Perth ECEC service fined $27,000 after a child is left on a bus following an excursion

Perth ECEC service fined $27,000 after a child is left on a bus following an excursion

by Freya Lucas

May 27, 2022

An early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider in the Perth suburb of Southern River has been ordered to pay $26,000 in penalties and $1,000 in legal costs after a five year old was left on a locked bus for more than two hours.

 

The incident occurred in September last year following an excursion to the Perth Museum. Three mini buses with five educators between them transported the 28 children to and from the museum. The child at the centre of the incident was on a bus with two educators and nine children. 

 

When the bus returned to the service at around 1:30 pm, neither educator on board conducted a head count or marked the roll as the children left the bus, or walked through the bus to ensure no child remained on board. 

 

Once all three buses had returned, a headcount was conducted. Despite only 27 children being counted, no action was taken by the educators. At around 3:30 pm an educator who was acting as the responsible person for the service undertook another headcount, which also found 27 children present, and this educator realised the 28th child was missing when the child’s bag was in the room without the child. 

 

A search of the premises was then carried out. The child’s mother arrived to collect the child at 3:45 pm. Shortly afterwards, a staff member checked the mini bus, finding the child “visibly upset, red faced, hot and sweaty.” 

 

As well as the fine, the service was suspended and required to implement a number of changes to its policies and practices before the suspension was lifted.

 

“To receive a report of a child being left in a locked bus for over two hours is quite confronting, even for our experienced investigators, as we have seen in other states it can have tragic consequences,” Department of Communities’ acting deputy director Damien Stewart said.

 

“In this case, numerous mistakes were made, from the moment the bus returned to the service from the excursion.”

 

The case marks the 11th time in the past six years when the Department has taken action in relation to a child being left on a bus. 

 

A summary of the agreed facts in relation to the incident may be accessed here.

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