A Perth childcare centre has been penalised for inadequate supervision after a four-year-old boy was found locked inside a mini-bus.
Mulberry Tree Childcare Centre in Mt Hawthorn has been hit with a $15,000 fine after the incident in October last year.
Tom Shipp was picked up from his nearby kindergarten, but when he arrived at the Loftus Recreation Centre, the little boy was left on the bus.
The worker did not do a headcount or check the bus was empty before locking the door.
The child was left alone on the bus for 11 minutes on a 31C day, with the vehicle parked in direct sunlight.
When Tom was found, he was crying and unsettled.
Staff went to look for him after his father arrived at the centre asking where he was.
Mulberry Tree Childcare has since implemented new bus run procedures with more checks and balances.
But Tom’s father Anthony Shipp is not satisfied with the $15,000 fine, telling The West Australian his son could have died.
“Purely by chance, I went to the centre at 3.30pm. We normally pick him up at 5pm,” he said.
“I think it’s just a minor slap on the wrist for an organisation as big as Mulberry Tree – it’s nothing to a company that size.
Shipp said the fine was not a big enough deterrent and he was shocked at how many incidents such as this have occurred at other daycare centres around the country.
“Personally, I no longer trust any centre to transport kids in buses.
“Clearly these fines have very little impact on this happening again and again.”
The WA Regulatory Authority released a statement saying it was important for service providers to review their transportation policies, risk assessments and practices.
“Being approved to operate an education and care service in WA carries significant responsibilities and obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children,” the department said in a statement.
“It is important that service providers review their transportation policies, procedures, risk assessments and practices to ensure they are adequate, and that staff – including casual and relief staff- are frequently trained in following these policies and procedures.
“The transportation practices put in place must be robust to protect against human error and to ensure thorough vehicle checks are undertaken every time.”