ECRU compliance officers will undertake spot checks in WA after another bus incident

ECRU compliance officers will undertake spot checks in WA after another bus incident

by Freya Lucas

June 15, 2022

Compliance officers from Western Australia’s Department of Communities’ Education and Care Regulatory Unit (ECRU) will undertake extra spot checks of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services after yet another incident when a child was left unattended in a vehicle while in the care of an ECEC provider. 

 

“It is unacceptable that despite notifications and warnings of the hazards of leaving children in care on vehicles unattended it is still occurring,” said Phil Payne, Executive Director – Regulation and Quality of the Department of Communities. 

 

“While it is positive that many centres have reviewed their policies and implemented suitable practices, some have still not. These centres are on notice that ECRU compliance officers will be undertaking compliance checks to ensure that their policies and procedures are adequate.”

 

The latest incident relates to an outside school hours care (OSHC) service in Esperance, which faced the State Administrative Tribunal earlier this week, being ordered to pay $10,000 and $2,000 for contravention of the Education and Care Services National Law (Western Australia) and Regulations following the incident which took place in July 2021.

 

An investigation by the ECRU established that on 28 July 2021 a four-year-old girl was picked up from a primary school in Esperance, along with seven other children, and transported to an after-school care session at the service.

 

All of the other children went into the service, however the educator was not aware a child had been left on the locked bus. The child was left alone and unsupervised for a period of between four and five minutes before being found by chance, and not as a result of the service’s policies and procedures.

 

The ECRU has stressed on a number of occasions that it is the responsibility of approved providers to ensure they have robust practices in place that are regularly audited to ensure that they are being followed by all staff.

 

This includes reviews of policies and procedures setting out the obligations of service providers when children arrive at and depart the service.

 

“In situations where children are disembarking vehicles, two educators should be present – one to supervise the children, and one to physically check that all the children have disembarked the vehicle,” the ECRU said.

 

“It is very concerning that in all recent cases, centres did not have adequate practices and training in place, despite the widespread reporting of these types of incidents in recent years,” Mr Payne added. 

 

“As we have seen in other states, a child being left unsupervised in a vehicle, even for a short period of time, can have tragic consequences.”

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