Numerous prosecutions outlined in latest round of NSW compliance breaches
A number of outside school hours care (OSHC) services, along with family day care (FDC) and long day care services, have been named in the latest round of compliance updates from the New South Wales regulatory authority, the Department of Education.
The largest penalty, $11,000, was levelled at a service who was prosecuted based on one offence of failing to ensure adequate supervision of children – section 165(1) of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW) after the service left a two-year-old in a bathroom for approximately half an hour unattended while other educators in the room went on an excursion.
In that instance, educators acknowledged that they had not completed a ratio check or head count of the children attending the excursion either prior to departing the service premises, during the excursion, or when arriving at the destination.
A separate incident took place in an OSHC service, resulting in the approved provider being penalised $5,000 and the nominated supervisor being prosecuted for one offence of failing to ensure adequate supervision of children – section 165(2) of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW); and one offence of failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury – section 167(2) of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW).
The service, located on the grounds of a public school fronting onto the Old Hume Highway, was using two areas for children’s play and learning – the school hall and the oval.
Children were able to move freely between the spaces, with educators communicating their whereabouts via walkie talkie.
During the incident in question two children, aged five and six, were signed into the service at around 3pm. After enjoying free movement between the spaces the children asked to return to the oval around 4pm.
Shortly afterwards the father of one of the children arrived to collect his child. At this time, it was discovered that both children were missing. Service staff, school staff and the parent of one of the missing children began searching for the children, first in the school grounds and then in the areas surrounding the school. The children were observed by a teacher from the school who was driving home at around 4:20 pm.
The children were located at about 4:37pm and returned to the service by two other staff members from the school. The police were not contacted at any time during the children’s absence.
In the incident involving a FDC educator, the educator turned on a portable heater to warm a play space approximately one hour prior to a 10-month-old child arriving to care.
The educator began preparing morning tea at approximately 9:15am, four meters away from the play space and heater. The child explored the heater with her hands and began to cry, ultimately being diagnosed with second degree burns to both hands.
The educator was charged with one offence of failing to ensure that every reasonable precaution was taken to protect children from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury – section 167(3) of the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW) and was convicted at Manly Local Court and fined a total of $1,500.
To access more information about the March compliance breaches outlined above, please see here.