A childcare provider has been ordered to cough up $17,000 in penalties after a five-year-old girl was left trapped in a locked bus outside a Perth primary school — the seventh such incident in WA in the past four years.
Unlike a similar incident in Cairns last month, which saw a toddler die after being left in a hot childcare minibus, the girl was rescued after about 10-15 minutes when she was spotted by the parent of a child at Inglewood Primary School.
The bus had been used by childcare provider Helping Hands Network to transport children from pre-primary and kindergarten sites to its service at the school.
The State Administrative Tribunal has ordered Helping Hands to pay a penalty of $15,000 and costs of $2000 over the incident, which occurred in May 2019.
It is the seventh such incident in WA involving a child being left on a bus that the Department of Communities has taken to SAT since 2016.
Last month the SAT ordered a $10,000 fine over an incident outside Care for Kids OSHC North Woodvale, when a six-year-old child was left alone on the bus.
In that incident, the child was rescued when the school chaplain saw the child knocking on the window of the bus.
In another incident, details of which were only publicly released today, the SAT ordered child care provider Goodstart Early Learning to pay a penalty of $10,000 after a three-year-old was able to leave an East Bunbury site unnoticed.
Staff at the centre did not realise he was missing until his mother brought him back.
In a statement, Goodstart said a full investigation of the site’s outdoor environment had been carried out after the incident and “additional safety measures implemented”.
“These included a new perimeter fence with an increased height of 1800mm and the relocation of other outdoor equipment,” it said.
“Supervision policies were immediately amended and communicated to all staff. Weekly reviews or the outdoor learning environment are undertaken to identify any opportunity for improvement.”
Department commissioning and sector engagement assistant director-general Brad Jolly said when parents put their children into care they expected the safety of their children to be the top priority.
“The Department of Communities investigates every allegation or complaint of the safety of children not being met,” he said.
“And, as it has in this case, may apply to the State Administrative Tribunal to impose one or more sanctions against an approved provider, licensee or managerial officer for contraventions of the relevant Act or regulations.
“All providers should review their practices around children in their care being properly accounted for at all times, especially ensuring that no children are left in vehicles, and make sure staff are familiar with and follow procedures correctly.”