Child left in restaurant leads to $10,000 fine for OSHC service
An outside school hours care (OSHC) service has been ordered to pay $10,000, plus $2,000 in legal costs, after a five year old child wandered off from her group during an excursion and was left in a restaurant.
The agreed circumstances of the incident, which took place in December 2022 (going before the State Administrative Tribunal in January 2024) are as follows:
- Children from the service were going on an excursion to the movies and afterward to a restaurant
- Due to the size of the group, they were transported in three groups: two groups of less than 10 children each, travelling in service owned vehicles, and a large group of 41 children, who were travelling on a private coach
- After the movie the coach was unavailable for the restaurant transfer, and as such, the large group of 41 was being transferred to the restaurant in the service owned vehicles
- Whilst at the restaurant, the issue with the coach was resolved, and educators prepared the larger group to leave the restaurant on the coach
- The large group were lined up in pairs, with educators positioned to effectively supervise
- As the group began to move from the restaurant the child separated from the group to use the toilet
- The child returned from the toilet to find the group had exited the restaurant. Staff members in the restaurant noticed the child and contacted educators, who had not yet left the carpark of the restaurant
- The child was returned to the group
During the course of the investigation into the incident, the Department became aware that one of the supervising educators (N) was in her first day of the role, and that while N had completed an induction into the overall procedures of the approved provider as a group, N had not been oriented or inducted into the individual service in which she was working, and that no risk assessment specific to the excursion had been shared with her.
“All approved providers must ensure that staff are aware of supervision policies and their associated risk assessments, especially when taking part in excursions,” Phil Payne, Executive Director, Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities said.
“Risk assessments should be reviewed immediately prior to excursions by all educators so that any changes on the day can be addressed to minimise further risk.”
As a result of the incident the approved provider has made changes, including ensuring that only one venue is attended on any given excursion day, and to educate its employees on the importance of adaptive planning on excursions dictated to the circumstances on any particular day.
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