Supervision critical for childcare service providers

Media release
A Pilbara childcare service has been ordered to pay a total of $14,500 following an incident in which a child has left the service unsupervised.
Banner text which reads media release.

The State Administrative Tribunal has found that LA Anchor Pty Ltd, trading as Pilbara Preparatory - Bulgarra, breached Section 165 (1) of the Education and Care Service National Law (WA) Act for an offence involving inadequate supervision, imposing a penalty of $13,000 and $1,500 costs.

LA Anchor Pty Ltd was brought before the State Administrative Tribunal by the CEO of the Department of Communities.

A Department of Communities investigation found that in August of last year a female child aged four years and three months was observed on the outside of the service’s perimeter fence talking to children who were on the inside of the fence.

The child was observed by two police officers who were driving by. The officers reported seeing the child run away from the service in their rear-view mirror.

The officers turned their vehicle around before stopping the child approximately 170 metres from the service on the footpath near a busy road.

On speaking to the child’s parent by phone, the police officers ascertained that the child was supposed to be at the service and returned her there.

Equally concerning, on returning the child to the service it appeared staff were unaware the child had been missing.

The child was missing for approximately 13 minutes and was located barefoot on a bitumen footpath at a time when the temperature was approximately 29 degrees.

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

"This is the seventh time over the past two years where disciplinary action has been taken against services where children have left the service unattended, and staff have been unaware of them leaving.

“This is despite the Department of Communities Education and Care Regulatory Unit providing regular support and communication around supervision to the sector and reminding approved providers that they must ensure that all their staff are aware of and are able to follow their supervision policies.

“These are serious matters, and the Department has zero tolerance to any violations of this nature.

“This child was very lucky that officers from WA Police were driving past the centre at the time and noticed a child outside the fence.

“Approved providers must ensure that, when children are outside, an adequate number of staff are positioned in the outdoor area to be able to effectively supervise all the children.

“It’s equally important that thorough induction training is undertaken for all new staff to ensure they are fully aware of the supervision procedures, which may vary from service to service.

“Supervision training should also be conducted on a regular basis to ensure all staff are aware of the roles and responsibilities. It is incumbent on the Provider to ensure that regular audits and checks are carried out to ensure practices reflect the procedures.”

Media contact: Steve Worner 0418 918 299.

Page reviewed 9 May 2022