$210,000 fine for childcare business
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.