Childcare service operators are being reminded of the importance of constant, active supervision to ensure the safety of children in their care after a service provider was prosecuted by the Department of Communities.
The State Administrative Tribunal found that Maragon WA Pty Ltd, trading as Busy Bees at Mirrabooka, had breached Section 165 (1) of the National Law for an offence involving inadequate supervision, imposing a penalty of $14,000 and $1,500 costs.
A Department of Communities investigation found that, on 10 August 2020, a three-year-old child left the service’s premises, walked through a busy public carpark and then entered a pharmacy in Mirrabooka. Pharmacy staff alerted WA Police and also enquired with the service as to whether they were missing a child. It was only at this point that the service realised a child was missing.
Educators collected the child from the pharmacy and returned with him to the service. Obtained CCTV footage confirms the child had been missing for at least 15 minutes.
Quotes from Catherine Stoddart, Deputy Director General – Governance, Integrity and Reform, Department of Communities
“This outcome should serve as a warning to providers in the childcare industry. Being approved to operate a childcare service in Western Australia carries significant responsibilities and obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children enrolled at the childcare service.
“It is crucial that childcare providers review their supervision policies and practices to ensure they are adequate and meet the individual needs of all children enrolled.
“In this case, it is not known how the child involved left the service, however, it was known to the service that the child was able to climb over fences.
“Operators should implement ongoing reviews of fencing and barriers at their services to ensure they are of a height and design to prevent children from being able to go through, over or under them. This includes ensuring there are no objects against or close to the structures that can be used as a climbing aid or foot hold. All gates must provide the necessary levels of security and all structures must be appropriately maintained.
“The supervision policies and procedures must be robust and include frequent headcounts and premises checks, especially for those children with known abilities such as climbing fences or tall outdoor or indoor structures, to ensure all children are accounted for.
“Operators must also have systems in place to monitor and ensure that all staff follow the policies and procedures.”
Media contact: Kaye Hopkins 0466 720 771