$210,000 fine for child­care busi­ness

POST Newspapers - - Letters To The Post - By BEN DICK­IN­SON

An out-of-school-hours care op­er­a­tor based at West Leed­erville Pri­mary School has been hit with a $210,000 fine for car­ing for more chil­dren than its li­cence per­mit­ted.

Camp Aus­tralia staff kept two sets of records to cir­cum­vent a cap of 30 chil­dren per day in the com­pany’s on­line book­ing sys­tem, the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal (SAT) found in a de­ci­sion pub­lished last week.

“Camp Aus­tralia’s mid-level man­age­ment were aware that the ser­vice was op­er­at­ing in breach of the con­di­tion,” the de­ci­sion read.

“In­stead of act­ing to pre­vent the breaches oc­cur­ring, Camp Aus­tralia’s man­age­ment de­lib­er­ately at­tempted to de­vise a way around the re­quire­ments of the con­di­tion by keep­ing man­ual hand­writ­ten at­ten­dance rolls, sep­a­rate from the on­line book­ing sys­tem, for all chil­dren whose at­ten­dance would put the re­spon­dent in breach of the con­di­tion.”

The com­pany ad­mit­ted at the tri­bunal that as many as 44 chil­dren at a time were in its care be­tween Fe­bru­ary and May this year.

The Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties cot­toned on to the breach in May, when an in­spec­tor counted 35 chil­dren at the cen­tre.

The in­spec­tor was given printed records for 30 chil­dren and hand­writ­ten records for five.

A Camp Aus­tralia spokesper­son said the cen­tre was try­ing to meet the needs of fam­i­lies in a school com­mu­nity where there was more de­mand for child­care than there were ap­proved places.

“Camp Aus­tralia did not take this ac­tion for fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage,” a spokesper­son said.

“Cor­rect staff ra­tios were al­ways in place to main­tain child safety and qual­ity of care.

“The in­tent was to main­tain con­ti­nu­ity of care for fam­i­lies in need while Camp Aus­tralia sought ap­proval for an in­crease in li­censed space.”

The spokesper­son said Camp Aus­tralia ac­cepted full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the breaches, and that the com­pany would re­move pa­per-based rolls at its more than 700 cen­tres na­tion­wide.

The West Leed­erville cen­tre has since been granted ap­proval to care for up to 50 chil­dren.

Camp Aus­tralia must also pay $2000 of the Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties’ le­gal costs.

Child Pro­tec­tion and Com­mu­ni­ties Min­is­ter Si­mone McGurk has ruled out fur­ther ac­tion against the child­care provider.

The com­pany has been hit with a string of fines this year.

In Fe­bru­ary, the tri­bunal fined Camp Aus­tralia $100,000 for fail­ing to en­sure a re­spon­si­ble per­son was present at all times at its Dalkeith Pri­mary School cen­tre be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber 2016.

On the same day, the com­pany was fined $35,000 af­ter a sev­enyear-old boy was sprayed in the eyes with chem­i­cal cleaner by an­other child at a cen­tre in Joon­dalup.

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