Centre fined $18,000 for being in breach of ratio, detrimental action against educator
A Perth childcare centre has been ordered to pay $18,100 and been issued with disciplinary action under section 188AB of the Schedule to the Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012 (the National Law).
The judgement follows an adjudication meeting on 2 April 2019, where both the Western Australian Regulatory Authority and the service agreed on settlement terms, with the Tribunal saying in remarks that they were “satisfied that proper cause exists for disciplinary action against (the service)”.
The outcome relates to a failure by the service, on three separate occasions, to meet the National Law, specifically section 51 (8) of the National Law, by failing to comply with a condition of a service approval.
After the second offence, which occurred 5 October 2018, the service contravened section 297(1) of the National Law by taking “serious detrimental action” against an educator, in response to the educator making a protected disclosure to the WA Regulatory Authority.
Local news source, Community News, reported that the educator in question was returning to the service in the centre bus around 2:40 pm on the afternoon of September 6 when she was instructed to “do laps” and “buy time” as an authorised officer was in attendance at the service, and, should the educator return with the children in the bus, the authorised officer would be alerted to the fact that the centre was operating knowingly out of ratio.
Community News alleges that the employee returned to the centre at 3:50 pm, after she was made aware that the authorised officer had left the centre, meaning some children had been on the bus for more than one hour.
Prior to the educator driving the bus outlining her concerns, Community News said, the educator had worked up to five days a week at either of the approved provider’s two centres, with no issues raised in relation to her conduct or performance. On 3 October 2018, it was reported by Community News that the directors “asked the woman why she made a report to the Regulatory Authority, and said there had been a breakdown in trust”.
The educator was offered no further work post 5 October, and, according to the agreed facts of the case, the woman’s protected disclosure was at least part of the reason she was not offered any further work”.
The financial penalty to the centre of $18,100 comprises of $8,100 for the three breaches of section 51(8) of the National Law, $8,000 for the breach of section 297(1) of the National Law, and a $2,000 contribution towards the Department’s legal costs.
The service has 30 days to make payment after the issue of an invoice from the Regulatory Authority.
Further information from the Western Australian Regulatory Authority is available here.