Lack of supervision leads to childcare fine
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > Lack of sandpit supervision leads to $12,000 fine for WA approved provider

Lack of sandpit supervision leads to $12,000 fine for WA approved provider

by Freya Lucas

February 28, 2024

An early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in Western Australia has been fined $12,000, plus a further $1,500 in legal costs, for failing to adequately supervise children.


In an incident which took place on 20 December, 2022 a two year old was left with bite marks and scratches on their ear, face and hands after an altercation with two other children in the sandpit area of the service, where there was no supervision for up to seven minutes. 


The injured child (Child 1) was not typically enrolled at the service, however was in attendance that day due to maintenance work being carried out at their usual service. 


Child 1 was playing in the sandpit with four others, as shown on CCTV footage. Child 1 approached a second child (Child 2, also two years of age) and hit Child 2 with a plastic plate. 


Child 2 retaliated, hitting Child 1 back, and attempting to scratch them. Child 1 retreated, and was followed by Child 2, who tried to bite them, causing Child 1 to fall to the ground. 


While Child 1 was on the ground, with Child 2 seen moving towards and away from Child 1, a third child entered into the situation (Child 3) and approached the pair. At that point Child 2 and Child 3 threw sand at Child 1, with Child 3 also finding an object to throw at Child 1. 


Child 2 and 3 then left the sandpit, leaving Child 1 on the ground briefly, before standing and breathing heavily. 


In total, as confirmed by CCTV footage, all children were unsupervised for up to seven minutes. 


The four educators charged with supervising the space each said they did not see or hear the incident.


“It is crucial that all approved providers complete regular audits to ensure that staff follow service policies and procedures at all times,” Phil Payne, Executive Director, Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities said.


“When children are actively supervised in education and care services, the risk of harm is dramatically reduced.”


“Every parent should expect that they can entrust their children into education and care services and that they are getting the best quality care and attention.”


In handing down a judgement for the case the State Administrative Tribunal noted the genuine contrition of the approved provider, who has since put in a number of measures to ensure adequate supervision moving forward, including a lanyard system to identify supervision points and the appointment of a Director of Supervision who is responsible for ensuring that educators follow the supervision policy, remain at supervision points, and who is responsible for providing approval for educators to leave their supervision points. 


For more information about adequate supervision, please refer to this ACECQA resource.

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