Queensland ECEC service fined $15,600 over October escape incident

Queensland ECEC service fined $15,600 over October escape incident

by Freya Lucas

November 09, 2021

The approved provider of a near Coomera, Queensland long day care service has been fined $15,600 following an incident on 22 October 2020 in which two children were able to escape from the service through an unlocked gate. 

 

Queensland Regulatory Authority, the Department of Education, prosecuted the provider in the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday following its investigation into the incident, which was captured on dash cam and internal CCTV footage.

 

The provider pled guilty to four charges, including failure to:

 

  1. ensure children were adequately supervised
  2. take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and hazards likely to cause injury
  3. ensure children did not leave the service unless in prescribed circumstances
  4. take reasonable steps to ensure staff follow policies and procedures.

 

The first and second charges are offences under the National Law while the third and fourth are charges under the National Regulations.

 

Magistrate Joan White commented on the seriousness of the incident, which she said could have resulted in death or serious injury.

 

She considered the defendant’s remorse, cooperation with the Regulatory Authority, prompt response to the incident, and their acknowledgement that had policies and procedures been followed, the incident would not have occurred.

 

The Magistrate also observed that if the children had been adequately supervised, they would not have been able to access the road.

 

“The Regulatory Authority will continue to hold approved providers accountable for their obligations under the National Law regarding the safety and wellbeing of children in their care,” a Departmental spokesperson said.

 

“Prosecution sends a strong message to approved providers that they have an overriding responsibility to protect the children in their care and, where measures are inadequate, the department will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”

 

For more information on the importance of adequate supervision and the obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure staff follow policies and procedures, please see the Department’s regulatory priorities for 2021–2022.    

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