ECEC service in WA fined $14,500 after child is left alone outside in hot temperatures

ECEC service in WA fined $14,500 after child is left alone outside in hot temperatures

by Freya Lucas

April 28, 2022

An early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been fined $14,500 in combined penalties and legal costs by the State Administrative Tribunal in relation to an August 2021 incident which saw a four-year-old girl found outside the service, in bare feet on a main road. 


The child was spotted by local police appearing to be talking to children inside through the perimeter fence. The officers continued on their patrol, but later stopped the child about 170 metres from the facility after she started running alone alongside one of the main roads in the area.


She was barefoot, and the temperature was 29 degrees. When the officers spoke to the child she told them she was going home. Officers contacted the child’s father who informed them the child was meant to be under the supervision of the service. 


When the officers returned the child to the service and approached an educator in relation to the incident they were told that the service was unaware the child was missing. While there was a supervision policy in place at the service, the Tribunal heard that the majority of educators at the service were not aware of it, and that a risk assessment for the outside space, which required a headcount every 30 minutes, had not been conducted.


Since the incident, the service has updated its safety procedures, developing supervision maps for the outdoor area,  and updating policies and procedures to ensure they were “current, compliant and centre-specific”.


All staff have completed external training in active supervision and monitoring, and other measures such as regular internal audits, daily indoor and outdoor checklists, and teaching children about the dangers associated with running away from the premises have also been put in place. 


To read the ABC coverage of this incident, please see here