Perth childcare service fined for leaving a child behind at the Perth Zoo

Media release
A Perth childcare service has been ordered to pay a penalty by the State Administrative Tribunal after an investigation found it breached regulations regarding supervision of children in its care.
A stack of paper files, and pen and a computer keyboard on a desk.

Service provider OSHClub Pty Ltd, trading as Como OSHClub, was ordered to pay $20,000 and $2000 costs by the State Administrative Tribunal for contravention of section 165(1) of the Education and Care Services National Law (Western Australia), following an incident in January of this year.

It was the fourth time the service provider had been before the State Administrative Tribunal.

A Department of Communities investigation found that at around 1:50pm on 27 January, 2021 a girl aged four years and 10 months who was on an excursion to Perth Zoo was left behind at an exhibit and the educators responsible for the child did not realise the child was missing from the group. The child was unsupervised by the service for between 15 and 25 minutes and was found by a member of the public. The child was in emotional distress.

The day that the incident occurred was the child’s first day at the service. She was not familiar with the Zoo, the childcare service staff or other children at the service.

Quotes from Phil Payne, Executive Director, Regulation and Quality, Department of Communities

“This incident demonstrates how a number of seemingly innocuous factors can combine to contribute to a lapse in supervision.

“The service had a comprehensive risk assessment process and strategies, but there was no clear system in place to ensure it was being followed.

“Being approved to operate a childcare service in Western Australia carries with it significant responsibilities and obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children enrolled at the childcare service.

“Off-site excursions are a high-risk activity, and supervision policies and procedures must be robust and include frequent headcounts to ensure all children are accounted for.

“During the school holidays, the Department of Communities will be paying close attention to service providers’ compliance in relation to supervision - at premises and on excursions.”

Media contact: Kaye Hopkins 0466 720 771

Page reviewed 29 December 2021