The State Administrative Tribunal fined a Bunbury childcare centre, in WA $15,000 after a four-year-old boy wandered off its property alone, a caution has been given to childcare service providers.
According to an investigation by the Department of Communities' education and care regulation section, the little boy had left the service unsupervised through a gate in the outdoor environment in October 2021.
The child was discovered outside by a local resident, who left him with her husband while she went to find the Educators who were looking for the boy and returned to the service shortly after.
The issue was brought before the State Administrative Tribunal, which determined that the service had violated the Education and Child Service National Law (WA) Act by failing to adequately supervise a child. The tribunal imposed a $14,000 fine as well as legal fees of $1,000.
The Department of Communities shared the results as a sobering warning to other service providers just days after a mother told Nine News Perth about a comparable incident that occurred in Baldivis.
Cohen, age 3, attended Camp Australia's after-school programme for the first time last week, according to mum Ashlee Rollinson, he was then picked up by a stranger at a mall more than a kilometre away from where he should have been under supervision.
Rollinson claimed that she had called before picking up her son to check on him and was surprised to learn that he had already been picked up.
They remarked, "You've already picked him up," and Rollinson responded, "No, I haven't," she said. "It's all so surreal, I was so upset and furious".
According to Phil Payne, executive head of regulation and quality at the Department of Communities operating a childcare service carries "significant responsibilities.
“Services should continually review perimeter boundaries to eliminate single points of failure that could result in direct open access, communities will continue to proactively target providers’ supervision policies and procedures to ensure they are robust and that adequate checks are undertaken, especially during transition times, to ensure all children are accounted for,” he said.
Bunbury Childcare Centre Fined After Boy, 4, Found Wandering Outside, The WA Today, 17th February 2023