Childcare service operators are being reminded of the importance of constant, active supervision to ensure the safety of children in their care.

The State Administrative Tribunal has found that YMCA WA, trading as YMCA Carnaby Rise OSHC, breached Section 165 (1) of the National Law for an offence involving inadequate supervision, imposing a penalty of $17,000 and $2,000 costs.

YMCA WA was brought before the State Administrative Tribunal by the Department of Communities.

A Department of Communities investigation found that, on 21 January this year, a five-year-old boy enrolled in a vacation care session at the service left the premises. His departure went unnoticed by staff, who were alerted by a grandmother who was collecting her grandchildren.

The child left the premises while staff members were attending to other duties.

Building works were being conducted at the premises, which resulted in accessways being left open, and staff at the service were distracted by tasks related to tending to individual children and food preparation.

Several staff searched for the child, who was later found by a member of the public in the middle of Landsdale Road, about 800m from the service.

He had been missing for more than 45 minutes.

Quotes from Jon Pilkington, A/Executive Director Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities

“Supervision is a fundamental element of childcare.

“It is critical that childcare operators and staff remain vigilant and alert – especially during high-risk times, such as when children are being moved around as a group, either at the service or on excursions.

“Circumstantial or environmental changes can pose additional risk to children’s safety.

“In this instance construction works at the premises meant accessways that would have been closed under normal circumstances were left open.

“YMCA WA has advised the Department of Communities that the incident provided an opportunity for the organisation to examine the failures that occurred, and use the incident as an opportunity to improve through the development of better training resources, reinforcement of existing practices and re-inductions.”

Media contact: Steve Worner 0418 918 299