Christian Outreach Centre has been fined $18,000 after a child in the care of Citipointe Childcare went missing while on a bushland excursion in April 2021.
As a result of this incident, the department—as Regulatory Authority for early childhood education and care services in Queensland—undertook legal action in Holland Park Magistrates Court against Christian Outreach Centre as the approved provider of the service for failing to provide children with adequate supervision and protection from harm or hazard.
Christian Outreach Centre pleaded guilty to two charges of failure to:
- Ensure children were adequately supervised.
- Take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and hazards likely to cause injury.
Both charges are offences under the National Law.
This prosecution once again sends a clear message to all approved providers that they have an overriding responsibility to ensure all children in their care are protected from harm and adequately supervised.
In this case, a child aged only 21 months went missing while on a bushland excursion, and was found between 10 and 30 minutes later by a member of the public who happened to spot the child while out driving.
The fine of $18,000 reflects the seriousness of these offences. Acting Magistrate Rowan Silva expressed concern that a child had been located outside the fence of the centre without any adult present to provide supervision and protection, and could have been placed in further danger if not found by a passer-by. Acting Magistrate Silva also highlighted the need for the service to improve its procedures and staff training. In deciding the penalty, the magistrate acknowledged the service’s previous long history of providing education and care, their guilty plea and willingness to work with the department regarding the issues identified.
The department works closely with the early childhood education and care sector to promote supervision and ensure safe environments for children. Adequate supervision is one of the Regulatory Authority’s
key priority areas as part of its risk-based approach to regulating early childhood services, Regulating for Quality. Where the steps taken to ensure the health and safety of children are inadequate, the Regulatory Authority does not hesitate to take enforcement action.