Prosecution for approved provider and nominated supervisor as child is left in bus

by Freya Lucas

April 13, 2021

A New South Wales early childhood education and care provider has recently been ordered to pay over $45,000 in penalties in relation to a February 2019 incident in which a two-year-old was left in a minibus for an extended period of time.


The nominated supervisor of the service received a separate $9,000 penalty in relation to the incident, which resulted in the hospitalisation of the child, who was left in the minibus for approximately six hours on a 30 degree day. 


A regular ‘bus run’ was provided as part of the typical offering of the service both in the morning and in the afternoon. At the time of the incident, the approved provider did not have a policy or risk assessment procedure in relation  to the use of the service.


The child was collected from their home shortly after 8:30am, and placed in the middle seat on the second row of the mini bus. The bus driver returned to the service shortly before 9am, parking the bus in the service carpark, leaving the child in the bus, and entering the service alone, before signing out at 9:01am and returning home, having finished their shift. The child was marked on the service attendance roll as absent for the day. 


At around 3pm, the bus driver returned to the service to commence the afternoon driving shift. On opening and entering the bus in the carpark, the driver “noticed an unusual smell” which caused her to look around the bus, at which time she discovered the child. 


She removed the child, and ran to the staff room of the service, where she approached the person with management and control, stating she had left the child in the bus “all day”. At this point the child was not moving, and was flushed and clammy. An ambulance was called, and educators attempted to cool the child while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. 


The child was taken to hospital where they were treated for dehydration. 


As a result of her failure to ensure adequate supervision, and failure to take every reasonable precaution to protect a child from harm and hazard likely to cause injury, the nominated supervisor was fined $9,000. 


The approved provider was penalised over $45,000 for: 


  • failing to ensure adequate supervision;
  • failure to take every reasonable precaution to protect a child from harm and hazard likely to cause injury;
  • failure to take reasonable steps to ensure that nominated supervisors and staff members of the service complied with the required policies and procedures of the service (in that the Defendant did not provide a copy of the service’s policies and procedures to all staff when they commenced working at the service); 
  • failure to provide training to all staff in relation to the service’s policies and procedures and any changes to them; and, 
  • failure to  provide a formal induction to all staff or show certain staff where the service’s policies and procedures were located.


For further information about the incident, please see the NSW Government Department of Education website, here