Brisbane ECEC service fined $18,000 after child absconds, with provider disputing claim

Brisbane ECEC service fined $18,000 after child absconds, with provider disputing claim

by Freya Lucas

May 24, 2022

A Brisbane-based early childhood education and care (ECEC) service has been fined $18,000 after a toddler was left unsupervised and without adequate care and supervision, despite the service disputing the circumstances around the event and disagreeing with the findings of the investigation. 


The Queensland Education Department alleged that the incident, which took place in April last year, saw the 21-month-old child go missing for between 10 and 30 minutes while on a bushland excursion, with educators only being made aware of the child’s disappearance when he was spotted by a member of the general public who saw him while driving past. 


The service, however, alleges that the child went missing “after their initial safe return” from the excursion, and noting that they were willing to work with the Department regarding the issue.


“This prosecution once again sends a clear message to all approved providers that they have an overriding responsibility to ensure to protect the children in their care from harm and ensure they are adequately supervised,” the department said in a statement.


In reaching the decision, the acting Magistrate acknowledged the centre’s previous long history of providing education and care, and that the provider had pleaded guilty to the incident. 


“We have apologised to the parents and the child and we regret that this incident took place as we value every child in our care,” a statement from the provider to parents in relation to the incident said.


“We are truly thankful that the child was unharmed. We have conducted an internal review of our processes and staff training to ensure that an incident such as this will not take place in the future.”