WA service issued $10,000 penalty after 2yo left in bus
Western Australia’s State Administrative Tribunal recently found that an early childhood service in Thornlie had breached regulation 23 (1), “staff supervision of enrolled children”, under the Child Care Services (Child Care) Regulations 2006 after a two-year-old girl was left unsupervised in the service’s 12-seater bus for about one hour and 45 minutes.
The service was issued with a penalty of $10,000 in relation to the November 2020 incident, the agreed facts of which are as follows.
The girl was transported on the bus from home to the Centre on the morning of 9 November 2020 and administratively signed into the Centre. The signing in occurred despite the fact the girl was still on the bus.
About 30 to 40 minutes after dropping children off at the service, the bus driver drove the vehicle from the Centre to fill up with fuel, not knowing the girl was still on board. Later that morning, a staff member completed a head count in the Centre and realised the girl was not there. The girl was found on the bus 25 minutes after it returned to the Centre.
“Transportation practices at childcare services must be robust to protect against human error and to ensure thorough checks are undertaken every time children are transported to and from a facility,” said Paul Isaachsen, Acting Deputy Director General – Governance, Integrity and Reform, Department of Communities.
“Despite this being the first breach of this nature by the service, the circumstances that led to a child being left on the bus were not acceptable. Being approved to operate a childcare service in Western Australia carries significant responsibilities and obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the enrolled children.”
Mr Isaachsen said the incident should serve as a reminder of the importance of childcare providers reviewing their transportation policies, procedures, risk assessments and practices to ensure they are adequate, and that staff – including casual and relief staff- are frequently trained in following these policies and procedures.
Operators, he continued, must also have systems in place to monitor that the staff follow the service policies and procedures.