Mother speaks out

Wanneroo Times - - Front Page - Greig John­ston

BUT­LER mum Sky Phillips will never for­get the day her young daugh­ter told her a story that would chill her heart.

Mikayla (9) had been at af­ter-school care on De­cem­ber 14 at an OSHClub pro­gram at John But­ler Pri­mary Col­lege with her six-year-old brother Noah.

Noah, who is autis­tic and non-ver­bal, had been at­tend­ing the pro­gram since July.

That day one of the car­ers, Kath­leen Burton, smacked Noah and put soap in his mouth while another, Tam­mie Bell, was said to have held him dur­ing the or­deal.

Miss Phillips had been un­well in hos­pi­tal that day and got home when her chil­dren were in bed.

The next morn­ing Mikayla ran into her mum’s room and told her what hap­pened.

“Kathy got re­ally an­gry be­cause Noah kept spit­ting and throw­ing cars,” Mikayla told the Times dur­ing an in­ter­view with the fam­ily.

“She went into the kitchen, put some soap in her hand and walked over to Noah. Tam­mie held Noah and then Kathy just put it his mouth.”

Miss Phillips con­tacted the po­lice straight away, along with the man­ager of the OSHClub.

“The po­lice in­ter­viewed ev­ery­one, the OSHClub were re­ally great in sus­pend­ing the staff mem­bers straight away,” she said.

Miss Phillips’ in­stincts told her that her daugh­ter was telling the truth – and a court agreed.

Burton was charged with com­mon as­sault in cir­cum­stances of ag­gra­va­tion or racial ag­gra­va­tion.

She pleaded guilty in Joon­dalup Mag­is­trates Court and was fined $700, with costs of $100.

The cen­tre it­self was not sanc­tioned.

De­spite the court find­ing, Miss Phillips be­lieved the penalty was in­suf­fi­cient. She has had no fur­ther con­tact with the women.

“I’ve had no apolo­gies from any of them,” Miss Phillips said.

“There’s no re­strain­ing or­ders stop­ping them from talk­ing to me, so an apol­ogy would be nice.”

Bell had her ac­cred­i­ta­tion can­celled. The De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties web­site states she held Noah dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

A third woman, Jes­sica Peters, also had her ac­cred­i­ta­tion stripped af­ter she failed to in­ter­vene or re­port the in­ci­dent.

Autism As­so­ci­a­tion of WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Joan McKenna-Kerr said the in­ci­dent was “be­yond the pale” and ev­ery par­ent’s “worst night­mare”.

“I think a par­ent’s worst night­mare, es­pe­cially a non-ver­bal child, is the idea that child might be abused,” she said.

d480407 Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Sky Phillips with her chil­dren Noah (6) and Mikayla (9).

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