Release date: 11 March 2020

Child care service providers are being reminded to regularly review their practices and safety standards for fencing and perimeter security.

The reminder comes after the State Administrative Tribunal ordered child care provider Goodstart Early Learning Ltd to pay a penalty of $10,000 following an investigation of an incident at the Goodstart Early Learning East Bunbury child care service.

The investigation carried out by the Department of Communities found that a three-and-a-half year old boy left the service unnoticed and unsupervised and walked alone to his mother’s house.

The service had not noticed the child was missing until the mother brought the child back to the service.

Earlier that day, an educator at the service had observed the child and thought he was not happy to be at the service that day. The educator had also observed him attempting to climb the perimeter fence.

The educator did not pass on those observations to the other staff, and the service’s supervision policy and procedures did not require or advise educators to do so.

The incident occurred in September 2019.

In applying to the State Administrative Tribunal, the Department of Communities alleged that Goodstart Early Learning Ltd failed to ensure that children receiving education and care at its service were adequately supervised at all times, in contravention of section 165(1) of the National Law.

The Tribunal found that Goodstart Early Learning Ltd had contravened the National Law and ordered Goodstart Early Learning Ltd to pay a penalty of $10,000 and $2000 towards the Department of Communities' legal costs.

Quotes from Assistant Director General, Commissioning and Sector Engagement, Brad Jolly:

“Parents who place their children with a child care service expect the safety of their children to be the priority for that service.

“While the industry maintains high standards, any occasion of a child being able to leave a secure premise unsupervised is unacceptable. This outcome should serve as a reminder to the industry of the need to be vigilant in monitoring children in their care.

“The Department of Communities has broad investigative powers to ensure children’s safety, health and wellbeing.

“Department of Communities officers conduct targeted inspections of services, including unannounced or announced visits and investigates all reported instances of non-compliance.

Media contact: Nick Butterly (08) 6217 4077