Look before you lock – reminder from Queensland Education Minister in wake of tragedy
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace and Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey have directed their departments to issue urgent advice to early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators and bus operators about the safety of children on buses.
The departmental directive comes after a police investigation was launched yesterday into the tragic death of a three-year old boy on a privately-run childcare bus service in Edmonton. While the circumstances which led to the incident are as yet unclear, Ms Grace said the message to all drivers and operators was clear – look before you lock.
“It’s a simple practice that just has to be followed,” she said, referencing an alert issued by the Queensland Department of Education late last year, outlining the five steps needed to be taken by drivers and operators to ensure children were not left unattended.
“There have been too many incidents of children being left behind on buses in the past year,” she said.“These incidents have left families devastated and shaken the confidence of staff and their wider communities.”
Parents using bus services, be they for school, kindergarten or daycare, need to have “peace of mind that they will come home safe,” Ms Grace added.
Mr Bailey warned against taking ‘shortcuts’ when it comes to policy, procedure and safety, noting that one such action “could have life-long consequences”.
The vast majority of bus operators and drivers, he continued, “are professionals who acknowledge their duty of care and take safety extremely seriously”.
“Every driver of a bus has an obligation to make sure every passenger is safe and accounted for, especially children.If you’re driving, then it is up to you to walk the entire length of that bus and check for passengers before you lock up.”
Mr Bailey said the Directors-Generals of the Education and Transport and Main Roads Departments had convened an urgent meeting to develop actions for addressing the safety of children on buses.
For more information and guidance about the safe transportation of children, please see here.