Shocking number of NSW 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.

Most “serious incidents’’ happened in NSW, with 5013 cases of injury trauma or illness.
Most “serious incidents’’ happened in NSW, with 5013 cases of injury trauma or illness.

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.

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.

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 Victoria, 2712 children suffered a serious injury, trauma or illness, with ambulances called 559 times and 407 children missing or locked in or out of centres.

Two children escaped from their childcare centre in Melbourne’s Werribee.
Two children escaped from their childcare centre in Melbourne’s Werribee.

Victoria's Education Department has cracked down hardest on rule-breakers, listing actions against 41 childcare centres and family daycare operators during 2020.

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.''

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 NSW kids injured in childcare


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