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Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School fined thousands for losing child at daycare centre

Headshot of Breanna Redhead
Breanna RedheadBunbury Herald
The State Administrative Tribunal has fined a Bunbury high school $15,000 after losing a four-year-old boy who was later found wandering in the nearby area by local residents.
Camera IconThe State Administrative Tribunal has fined a Bunbury high school $15,000 after losing a four-year-old boy who was later found wandering in the nearby area by local residents. Credit: The West Australian/supplied

The State Administrative Tribunal has fined a Bunbury high school $15,000 after losing a four-year-old boy who was later found wandering in the nearby area by local residents.

Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School’s three-year-old kindy received the hefty fines earlier this month, after being found in breach of section 165 (1) of the Education and Care Service National Law (WA) Act for the inadequate supervision of a child.

Following an investigation by the Department of Communities’ Education and Care Regulation Unit, it was found that on October 26, 2021, a four-year-old boy left the premises unsupervised through a gate in the outdoor yard of the centre.

Ten minutes later, a neighbouring resident found the child standing on their driveway, leaving the boy with her husband while she approached educators who were looking for the child.

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The boy was returned to the service about 20 minutes after he went missing, of which he was left unsupervised for 10 minutes.

Further, it was discovered at the time of the incident there was a process to undertake a daily outdoor yard check, but that check was not documented on the morning of the offence.

It is understood there was three staff working on the day the child went missing, looking after 14 children.

Department of Communities executive director of regulation and quality Phil Payne said the department continued to warn childcare service providers of the importance of supervision at all times.

“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,” he said.

“Services should continually review perimeter boundaries to eliminate single points of failure that could result in direct open access.

“Communities will continue to proactively target providers’ supervision policies and procedures to ensure they are robust and that adequate checks are undertaken, especially during transition times, to ensure all children are accounted for.”

Head of Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School Matthew O’Brien said student safety is the school’s “highest priority.”

“The safety and welfare of each student at our school is our highest priority,” he said.

“This was a historic incident and, following an extensive internal review, the school undertook remedial action at the time to the satisfaction of the Department of Communities, including installing additional locks on maintenance gates, raising the height of some door handles, and installing pool-style fence at the entry to the Service.

“As noted by Mr Payne, the School continues to review our practices to ensure that we go beyond the regulatory requirements for the operation of a child care centre, creating an exemplary service for the families of the South West.”

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