Shocking number of Queensland kids injured in childcare
A little boy who died on a daycare bus was among more than 16,000 Australian children seriously harmed or sick in childcare last year.
A record 13,077 babies, toddlers and preschoolers suffered a serious injury, trauma or illness - including broken bones, burns, cuts, concussions, anaphylaxis reactions and severe asthma attacks - requiring urgent medical attention in 2019/20.
Ambulances were called to daycare emergencies 2145 times and 1409 children went missing, or were "mistakenly locked in or out of'' services or taken away without approval.
A total of 16,632 "serious incidents'' were reported to state and territory childcare authorities, a new Productivity Commission report reveals today.
Just a handful of centres have been prosecuted for breaking the rules - with none in NSW, Tasmania or the Northern Territory last year, compared to 41 compliance actions in Victoria, seven in Queensland, and four in South Australia.
In Queensland, 2357 children were seriously injured or suffered a trauma or illness, with ambulances called 657 times and 306 children missing or locked in or out of a centre.
One child died - three-year-old Malik Namok-Malamoo, who was found dead on a Goodstart Early Learning Centre minibus in Edmonton, south of Cairns, in February last year.
Former Goodstart carer Dionne Batrice Grills, 34, had a charge of manslaughter dropped last month.
The former director of the centre, Michael Glenn Lewis, 45, was charged with manslaughter and has been committed to stand trial in Queensland's Supreme Court at a date to be set.
Goodstart has closed the Edmonton centre and introduced "checkers'' to ensure that no children are left behind on a bus.
"In February of 2020 a small boy, who had been entrusted to us by his mother, died while in the care of our Edmonton centre,'' Goodstart says in an apology published in its latest annual report.
"We express our deep sorrow and remorse for the death of Meeky.''
Education Queensland shut down two child care operators and took disciplinary action against five educators last year.
Its compliance register shows that Moorooka Family Day Care in Brisbane and Sam's Place Child Care Centre in Charleville both had their approvals cancelled in January 2020 over "an unacceptable risk to the safety, health or well being'' of children.
But the identity of five childcare workers disciplined by the department has been kept secret - along with the centres where they worked.
One childcare supervisor was ordered to destroy a diploma after the Education Department found the worker was "not a fit and proper person''.
Three "lead educators'' were demoted and forced to do extra training after Education Queensland found an "offence to use inappropriate discipline''.
One "lead educator'' in a centre was ordered to do training in anger and stress management, managing workplace anxiety, safe sleeping and "managing challenging exchanges''.
A family day care educator was banned from working for a year after breaches for "inappropriate discipline'' and failing to protect children from "harm and hazard''.
In Victoria, 2712 children suffered a serious injury, trauma or illness, with ambulances called 559 times and 407 children missing or locked in out of centres.
Victoria's Education Department has cracked down hardest on rule-breakers, listing actions against 41 childcare centres and family daycare operators during 2020.
It prosecuted the Werribee West Family Centre in Werribee, owned by Early Childhood Management Services, in October 2020 for "inadequate supervision and a failure to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children''.
"Two children exited the service without the knowledge of the service and were returned … by a member of the public,'' the compliance register states.
It states that the "Magistrate's Court proved charges and ordered good behaviour bond''.
"Emergency Action Notices'' were slapped on two family day care centres - Mother's Choice Family Day Care in Tarneit and Lovely Kids Family Day Care in Albanvale - in September.
The Victorian Education Department found evidence that adults living in the homes used for family daycare had not been identified on the register of carers, and it was "unclear if any of these people held current working with children checks''.
Murrindindi Family Day Care in Alexandra was given a compliance notice last September after the Education Department found it had failed to "adequately supervise children at all times (and) protect children from harm and hazards''.
Most "serious incidents'' happened in NSW, with 5013 cases of injury trauma or illness, ambulances called 560 times and 346 kids reported missing or locked in or out of centres.
But NSW Education's website does not list any "significant enforcement actions'' against operators since Sydney City Council was fined $10,000 in 2019 for inadequate supervision, after a child with Down syndrome "absconded'' and ran into the street.
In South Australia, 1064 cases of serious injury, trauma or illness were reported to the Productivity Commission, with ambulances called 139 times and 155 children missing or locked in or out of a centre.
The Education Standards Board SA lists four childcare providers that breached regulations in 2020.
The Productivity Commission report reveals 25,141 breaches of childcare regulations last year - with 13,673 in NSW, 6141 in Victoria, 3135 in Queensland, 410 in South Australia, 834 in Western Australia, 165 in Tasmania, 349 in the ACT and 434 in the Northern Territory.
Originally published as Shocking number of Queensland kids injured in childcare