Over $30,000 in fines for QLD ECEC service after multiple incidents
An early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in Bundaberg, Queensland has been fined $34,500, plus an additional $3,000 in legal costs, in relation to a string of incidents in which children were left unattended, or absconded from the service.
The case was heard in Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday, 7 February, and related to multiple incidents which took place between February 2021 and July 2022.
The incidents included leaving a four-year-old child unattended on a service bus for approximately 5–15 minutes, leaving a two-year-old child unsupervised in the playground for approximately two minutes, and an occasion where two children aged five and six years of age respectively left the service premises and were unsupervised for 30–45 minutes.
Following a period of investigation the Queensland Department of Education, in its capacity as the state’s regulatory authority, took legal action against the approved provider for its failure to protect children from harm and hazards, failure to provide adequate supervision, and failure to comply with compliance directions.
The approved provider, who had no prior history of compliance failures, pled guilty in response to all allegations, and no convictions were recorded.
In reaching her decision, Chief Magistrate Janelle Brassington commented that, given the purpose of the national framework and legislation is to protect children, it is important that the penalty imposed have a significant deterrent aspect.
“The prosecution sends a strong message to all approved providers that they have an overriding responsibility to ensure children are adequately supervised and protected from harm, and that they must respond to compliance actions as directed by the Regulatory Authority,” information released by the Department in relation to the findings notes.
“Where inadequate steps are taken to protect the health and safety of children, the Regulatory Authority will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”
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