The Western Australian regulatory authority has handed down the maximum available penalty to a national approved provider in relation to a September 2022 incident where a child was strangled by a skipping rope caught around their neck and found unconscious by an educator.
“This incident was highly distressing for the child, family and all children and staff present. This very easily could have resulted in a death,” said Angelo Barbaro from the WA Department of Communities.
“Approved providers of early education and care services hold an unmitigable obligation to uphold the very highest standards of care and supervision, to ensure child safety and wellbeing is prioritised.”
It’s the first time in Australian history a maximum penalty has been handed down for breaches relating to inadequate supervision, sending a clear warning for all approved providers that child safety is paramount.
The child at the centre of the incident required 18 chest compressions before regaining consciousness and being transferred to hospital.
The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) subjected the approved provider to the maximum penalty of $50,000 for contravention of clause 165(1) of the Education and Care Service National Law (Western Australia) Act 2012, along with a record $40,000 penalty for contravention of clause 167(1).
“This incident clearly demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that inadequate supervision practices can have if policies and procedures are not followed,” Mr Barbaro said.
“Approved providers need to ensure that their service staff focus on active supervision of children in their care rather than being involved in routine tasks around the service. It is incumbent on the provider to ensure that audits and checks are regularly conducted to ensure staff practices reflect procedures.”