Monday, June 24, 2024

Transport safety regulations for WA childcare centres from tomorrow

From tomorrow, centre-based Western Australian childcare services will be required to ensure children who are regularly transported are better accounted for, as part of amendments to the state’s Education and Care Services National Regulations.

Early Childhood Education Minister, Sabine Winton said the new requirements aim to reduce the risk of children being accidentally left inside vehicles and apply to all centre-based services that offer or arrange regular transportation of children.

“Families have every right to expect their child is kept safe and appropriately supervised at early childhood learning centres when they are dropped off and picked each day. These changes will give them that extra peace of mind,” said Minister Winton.

“It doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside – a parked vehicle gets hot very quickly, especially if it’s in the sun. Children can suffer serious harm if they’re accidentally left inside, even for only a short period.”

The changes include making sure:

  • children are accounted for as they get in or out of a vehicle by a staff member or a nominated supervisor other than the driver;
  • a staff member or nominated supervisor other than the driver accounts for children when they get on and off transport at the childcare service premises;
  • the interior of the vehicle is checked to ensure no children are left behind;
  • records are kept of how each child was accounted for; and
  • the Department of Communities is notified when regular transportation starts being provided or arranged by the services, and if/when it stops. 

The penalty for breaches of the regulations will range between a minimum of $9,000 and a maximum of $26,000.

“Our early childhood learning centres provide a wonderful and valuable community service and do a really important job in helping to support the learning and development of our children.”

“These common sense changes are about reducing the risk of children being left in vehicles, by making sure there are clear requirements for how services should supervise and account for children when they are transported,” the Minister said.

She said that while most WA centre-based childcare services are diligent when transporting children in their care, since 2017, the Department of Communities has initiated 12 disciplinary proceedings before the State Administrative Tribunal, relating to centre-based services leaving children unattended inside vehicles.

These proceedings have resulted in these services being collectively fined more than $157,000.  

Four of those incidents occurred during the hottest part of the day between 1pm and 4pm, with unsupervised times ranging from five minutes up to over two hours.

The ages of the children left unattended ranged from three to six years old.

For more information on the new transport regulations, visit the Department of Communities website https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-communities/education-and-care-regulatory-unit.

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