WA OSHC fined $15,000 for wandering child
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > Western Australian OSHC ordered to pay $15,000 after child absconds

Western Australian OSHC ordered to pay $15,000 after child absconds

by Freya Lucas

October 02, 2023

An outside school hours care (OSHC) service in Western Australia has been ordered to pay $15,000 plus $1,000 towards legal costs after a four year old child in their care was left unattended for a period of more than 20 minutes. 


The four year old was collected from his classroom by OSHC educators and signed in to the service just after 3pm. The accepted practice of the service was for preschoolers and kindy (first year of school) children to remain seated on benches near the centre of the school – an area which is a throughfare for many children to move through at the end of the school day. 


A Year 1 teacher was walking through this area approximately 5 minutes later, along with 13-14 children in their care, near where the children were seated on the benches. An OSHC educator moved away from the seated children to collect another child, who was approximately 10-15 metres away from the seated children. 


At this point, the child at the centre of the incident moved from their seated position, and followed the Year 1 group, moving toward the school entrance. 


None of the supervising educators noticed the child slip away, and at some point in time the child left the school grounds without his absence being noticed.


During roll call the OSHC service became aware that the child was missing, and began a search of the school grounds. The child was located by educators from another service, run by the same approved provider, at approximately 3:30 PM.


At the time of the incident (March 2023) the approved provider had only recently taken over operation of the service (February 2023), and the agreed facts note that no meeting was held with any of the staff to discuss and assess supervision practices and procedures, or the safe movement of children through the school space whilst in the care of the service, or to assess educator knowledge and understanding of existing policies, practices or procedures. 


The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) found that the service failed to ensure the safety of the children in its care, and that the service had contravened section 165(1) of the Education and Care Service National Law (WA) Act 2012, for an offence relating to the inadequate supervision of a child. 


“Inadequate supervision within the education and care services sector is a significant concern of the Department of Communities,” Angelo Barbaro, A/Executive Director, Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities said.


“Despite (the) Regulatory Unit providing information to the sector regarding the importance of active supervision, we continue to see cases where inadequate supervision has put children at risk.”


“It is unacceptable that a young child was able to leave the premises of a service without supervision and is it very fortunate that on this occasion the child was unharmed.”


“Approved providers of early education and care services must uphold the very highest standards of care and supervision, to ensure child safety and wellbeing is not compromised”.

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