Two more serious breaches at Perth childcare centres

Stock image.
Stock image.

TWO children, aged one and two, wandered away from separate childcare centres and were found by the public during May this year.

In one case, a two-year-old boy ran in front of a car on Grosvenor Road in North Perth after he pushed over some temporary fencing to leave a centre.

In the other a one-year-old boy was found wandering alone at Wattle Grove Shopping Centre.

These cases were revealed after Community News’ report on a series of worrying breaches by childcare centres this year.

On Tuesday May 22, passengers in a car travelling on Grosvenor Road in North Perth stopped when they saw a small boy run in front of them.

The boy had been playing alone at Mulberry Tree Child Care Centre, in the outdoor area near the boundary fence line.

The fence is next to a vehicle-accessed alley between Grosvenor and Raglan Streets.

There was a gap between the fence and one of the centre’s buildings, opening out on to the carpark, and pieces of pool fencing had been attached to the building and wedged into the roadside fencing.

But this fencing was not secure, and the boy was able to push it over and move out onto Grosvenor Road.

The fence has since been fixed and the centre’s owner, Cachet Holdings Pty Ltd, has “accepted full responsibility for the incident and has not sought to deny the facts or minimise the seriousness of this incident”.

“The respondent has demonstrated genuine contrition and a desire to ensure another contravention does not occur,” the State Administrative Tribunal ruling said.

Cachet Holdings was fined $10,000 for the breach and ordered to pay $2000 towards the Department of Local Government and Communities’ legal costs.

In another case, on May 31, a boy aged one year and 11 months left Sonas Early Learning and Care in Wattle Grove and made his way to Wattle Grove Shopping Centre.

CCTV footage shows him wandering alone throughout the shopping centre.

A shop worker found the boy and alerted Sonas, although no one at the centre believed a child was missing.

A Sonas employee attended the store “just to be sure”, according to the SAT ruling, and recognised the boy, bringing him back.

It later emerged that one of the childcare centre’s gates was faulty.

Sonas was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and a further $1000 towards the department’s legal costs.

Mark Prendergast, the owner of Sonas, said the child in question still attended the centre.

“The incident has devastated all involved,” Mr Prendergast said.

“It was revealed the gate had been tampered with the night before.

“The gate appeared to be locked and secured when it in fact wasn’t.

“The gate has since been modified to eradicate the problem.

“There were proper supervision procedures in place – unfortunately these were not followed by some on the afternoon in question and dismissals have followed.

“Our centre is used by many families and no one withdrew their children.”

Mulberry Tree has also been contacted for comment.