'Worst nightmare': CEO of childcare centre speaks out after boy found dead in minibus

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

The CEO of a childcare provider said the organisation has been left “devastated and shocked” after a three-year-old boy was found dead inside one of their minibuses in Far North Queensland.

Julia Davison, CEO of not-for-profit Goodstart Early Learning, appeared on Channel Nine’s Today on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the child was found by the bus driver outside an Edmonton primary school, south of Cairns.

“Look, we are absolutely devastated. The team at Goodstart Edmonton are still trying to come to terms with this,” she said.

Ms Davison said her organisation has been left "devastated" by the child's death. Source: Today

“All of our 15,000 educators are devastated and shocked.

“It is every family's worst nightmare that something might happen to their child and it is every educator's worst nightmare something might happen to a child in their care.”

Ms Davison said she flew to Cairns on Tuesday night and is offering support to educators at the facility and will look to assist the boy’s family however they can.

“Our deepest condolences are with the family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them,” she said.

“Obviously we will do anything we possibly can to reach out and support the family of the young boy who tragically died yesterday.”

Police said the child was due to be delivered to Edmonton Goodstart Early Learning Centre.

The boy was found inside the vehicle at about 3.15pm by the vehicle’s driver, who was later treated for shock.

The minibus the child was found inside. Source: Nine News

The boy’s mother has been notified, the ABC reported.

The circumstances surrounding the death are being investigated by Cairns detectives from the Child Protective Investigation Unit.

“We're just trying to work out exactly what's happened,” Inspector Jason Smith told reporters on Tuesday.

While temperatures reached 33 degrees in Edmonton on Tuesday, authorities were unable to confirm if the death was heat-related.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Ms Davison said the organisation will be assisting investigations and that as a precaution, their fleet of vehicles will not be in use as of Wednesday.

She said the move was a difficult decision to make because they “pick up and collect lots of vulnerable children who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to access early learning.”

“We just want to make sure we can make everything as safe as possible while still giving children access to our early learning,” she said.

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