Affinity Education Group Limited has been fined $35,000, with no conviction recorded, after a child in the care of Milestones Early Learning The Lakes was left on the service's bus on 15 July 2021 for about 65 minutes.
The 4-year-old child had been collected from home, and a member of the public later noticed they were alone and restrained in the car seat inside the bus.
The department, as the Queensland Early Childhood Regulatory Authority, prosecuted Affinity Education Group Limited, as the approved provider of the service, for failing to provide children with adequate supervision and protection from harm or hazard.
Affinity Education Group Limited pleaded guilty to 2 charges, failure to do both of below:
- 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, and the $35,000 fine reflects their seriousness.
On 13 September 2023, Magistrate Rosemary Gilbert considered the risk the child was exposed to by being left on the bus, the ambiguities and deficiencies in the service's policies and procedures, and the numerous Regulatory Authority newsletters sent to approved providers about transporting safely, in deciding the defendant's guilt and sentence.
The magistrate also acknowledged that, while there was a very real risk of harm to children, in deciding the penalty, she considered the steps the defendant had taken following the incident and their cooperation with the Regulatory Authority, including installing an alarm and cameras on their buses.
This prosecution sends a strong message to approved providers that they have an overriding responsibility to ensure children are adequately supervised and protected from harm when they are transported as this type of incident could result in a child's serious injury or death.
Remember the critical message—
Look before you lock. Every. Single. Time.
The department will continue to work with the early childhood sector to promote supervision and ensure safe environments for children, particularly when being transported.
Adequate supervision and risk assessment and management are two 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 department will not hesitate to take appropriate action.