NSW compliance update: 8 educator prosecutions YTD, and over $16,000 in fines issued
The New South Wales Department of Education has updated its compliance breach listings for 2019, revealing that over $16,000 in fines have been issued to approved providers, and eight early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators in positions of responsibility have been prosecuted in local courts for breaches of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW).
The educators who were prosecuted were found to be guilty of offenses in relation to failing to ensure adequate supervision of children, failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury, and failing to ensure that no child is subjected to any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances.
Four approved providers were named in the updated compliance information, receiving financial penalties for failing to ensure adequate supervision of children, failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury, and failing to comply with the conditions of a provider approval.
In one instance of prosecution, a family day care educator was caring for six children aged aged 10, 8 and 6 (siblings), and 9, 7 and 5 (siblings). The eldest child of one sibling group contacted their mother via phone at approximately 1pm, advising the mother that she and her siblings had been left alone in a park for over an hour.
On arriving at the park, the children’s mother noticed her children, and a number of other children meant to be in the care of the educator and another educator from the same scheme, on the grass area near the playground. The park contained play equipment, including a flying fox with a sign warning that only children older than 12 years should use this piece of equipment, and a large climbing rope. Adjacent to the park was a canal, which was unfenced, and a public road. The maximum recorded temperature in the area on the day of the incident was 38.5 degrees Celsius.
As a result of a failure to adequately supervise children by leaving them alone in a park; and a failure to take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury, the educators were convicted in a Local Court and sentenced to a Conditional Release Order for a period of two years.
In the instance of prosecution in relation to failing to ensure that no child is subjected to any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances, an educator who was caring for a child who was nearly 17 months old took the child to the cot room and placed the child in a cot.
The educator tried to get the child to go to sleep, however, the child kept standing up in the cot. The educator proceeded to wrap the child in a bed sheet, tying the ends of the sheet to the cot rails. This forced the child to lie on her side with her arms restrained.
In a separate incident, the educator was caring for the same child. At nap time, the child was placed in a cot to sleep. The child did not go to sleep. In the presence of another educator, the educator proceeded to again wrap the child in a bed sheet, tying the ends of the sheet to the cot rails. The child’s arms and legs were restrained.
As a consequence of her actions, the educator recieved a $1,000 fine and a recorded conviction in relation to two offences of failing to ensure that no child is subjected to any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances – section 166(3)(b) of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW).
In the instance of approved provider penalties, one provider was fined $11,000 after a five and a half year old child was found on a bus, where he had been left for approximately one hour unattended after two educators failed to check the interior of the bus prior to locking it.
A Shire Council received a $6,750 fine after a six year old child left the service premises and walked down a nearby street. Neither educator caring for the child at the time knew the child had left the premises. After leaving the premises, the child approached two women and asked them to help her find her mother.
The remaining components of the $6,750 fine related to a failure to inform the Department of a change in nominated supervisor on two separate occasions.