Reminder for childcare service providers

Media release
A childcare service operator has been fined $15,000 plus $1,000 costs over an incident where a child was nearly hit by a vehicle after he left his group during an excursion and wandered onto a laneway.
A stack of paper files on a desk.

The State Administrative Tribunal has found that Affinity Education Group Ltd, trading as Milestones Early Learning Yokine, (formerly known as ASILO Bilingual Childcare and Learning Centre), breached Section 165(1) of the National Law for an offence involving inadequate supervision.

A Department of Communities investigation found that in April of this year, during an excursion to a local reserve, a two-year-old male child left the site unnoticed and unsupervised.

The child was found standing in the middle of a bitumen lane that runs behind a group of shops, parallel to the park, after he was almost hit by a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Up until that point, both staff members were unaware that the child had left the group.

Staff were only alerted to the fact that the child was missing after the driver of the vehicle called out to a staff member.

There were two educators with a total of 14 children, including the child, present at the excursion. The service’s own risk assessment for the excursion required a minimum of three educators. The staff were positioned at opposite ends of the reserve about 30m apart with children playing at either end of the reserve.

Quotes from Catherine Stoddart, Deputy Director General – Governance, Intelligence and Reform, Department of Communities

“It is long been recognised that excursions to locations without walls, even to familiar places, may require a higher ratio of educators to children to guarantee adequate supervision.

“Excursion practices should ensure the educator-to-child ratios are appropriate for the needs of each excursion and don’t just meet the minimum standard. These practices should consider the location, age and individual needs of all children in attendance.

“Childcare providers should also consider staff capabilities and provide additional support, if required, when planning an excursion.

“Childcare providers must actively ensure that their service’s practices are appropriate and robust, so that staff know them and follow them at all times.

“Having policies for supervision and excursions is a start, and ongoing reviews should be conducted to ensure maintenance of these practices and - where applicable - improvements made.

“Risk assessments need to be robust, and all staff must be trained in these processes prior to participating in an excursion so they can understand and implement them.”

Media contact: Steve Worner 0418 918 299

Page reviewed 19 November 2021