Perth childcare centre fined for too many kids, sacking whistleblower

Stock image.
Stock image.

A PERTH childcare centre has been ordered to pay $18,100 after it was found to have exceeded its maximum number of children on multiple occasions, and sacked the woman who brought it to the attention of authorities.

Narula Holdings operate the Little Peoples Place Early Learning Centre in Evans Way, Byford, and in August and September last year it was found to have breached its limit of 47 children for short periods on three different afternoons.

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About 2.40pm on the afternoon of Thursday September 6, an employee was returning from collecting children on the service’s bus.

She was instructed to “do laps” and “buy time”, as the authorised officer in attendance would know the centre had breached its child limit if she returned.

The centre’s employee returned at 3.50pm, after she’d been told the authorised officer had left the centre, meaning some kids had been on the bus for more than an hour.

The Department of Local Government and Communities was alerted to the incident the next day by a woman who was an educator at the centre and earlier this month, the matter went to mediation at the State Administrative Tribunal.

From June 14, 2018 until September 28 the woman had worked up to five days a week, at 7.5 hours a day, at either of Narula’s two childcare services.

During this time there were no issues raised with the woman on the performance of her duties.

But on October 3, the directors asked the woman why she had made the report to the Department and said there had been a breakdown in trust.

She was offered no further work with the company after October 5, and according to the agreed facts of the case the woman’s “protected disclosure was at least part of the reason the educator was not offered any further work”.

Narula was ordered to pay $8000 for three breaches of their child limit, and $8100 for “taking serious detrimental action against an educator in reprisal for a protected disclosure”.

The company was also ordered to pay $2000 towards the Department’s legal costs.

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