WA approved provider fined $22,000 in relation to children who left through outdoor gate
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > WA approved provider fined $22,000 in relation to children who left through outdoor gate

WA approved provider fined $22,000 in relation to children who left through outdoor gate

by Freya Lucas

August 15, 2022

Western Australia’s State Administrative Tribunal has ordered an approved provider to pay $22,000 and $2,000 in legal costs after a Department of Communities investigation found they had failed to secure the environment appropriately, or to notice that children had left the service unattended. 


The investigation found that at around 4.30pm on 23 August 2021, three children, all below four years of age, exited the service’s outdoor yard through an outdoor gate, before they were found playing on a footpath adjacent to the service’s boundary fence.


A parent who was leaving the service after collecting her child noticed the children outside and ushered them back into the service. An educator from the service then directed the children to move away from the gate and closed the gate.


The investigation also found that the educators had noticed this gate left open more than once during the day and failed to notify the responsible person. They also failed to ensure the gate was securely locked.


The parent who found the children informed the responsible person about the incident the following day, however, the service failed to notify the Department of Communities Education and Care Regulatory Unit about the incident within the required timeframe of 24 hours.


“This is the ninth time over the past two years where disciplinary action has been taken against a service where children have left the service unattended, and staff have been unaware of them leaving,”  said Phil Payne, Executive Director of Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities. 


Despite the Department of Communities’ Education and Care Regulatory Unit providing regular support and communication around supervision to the sector and reminding Approved Providers that they must ensure that all their staff are aware of and follow their supervision policies, the issues persist. 


“The Department of Communities will continue to take strong action in cases where staff are unaware of a child leaving, and where there are failures in security measures such as ineffective or deficient locking mechanisms which put children at elevated risk,” Mr Payne continued. 


“Childcare service staff must focus on active supervision of children in their care. It is incumbent on the Approved Provider to ensure that audits and checks are regularly conducted to ensure staff practices reflect procedures.”


Checks on outdoor areas should include a physical, not just visual, check of gates to ensure they are securely locked, he continued. 


“Services should also regularly check their boundaries to eliminate any possible points of failure that could result in children having direct access out of the service, and staff also need to be clear on reporting harm and hazards when they are first noticed.”


For more information on active supervision, please see here

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