Goodstart Early Learning implemented policy and procedural changes for collections and drop-offs two years before a toddler was found dead on a minibus in Cairns this week.
The not-for-profit childcare centre company this week cancelled all bus services after a three-year-old boy was found dead on a company-run minibus parked outside Hambledon State School in Cairns on Tuesday.
In early 2018, a 14-month-old girl was left in a bus used by Goodstart Early Learning in Parkwood on the Gold Coast for more than an hour, on a day when temperatures reached about 30 degrees.
Gold Coast mother Lisa Easton, whose daughter was left in the bus at Parkwood was distressed to hear her nightmare had not only been repeated, but this time ended in tragedy.
"I never thought this could happen to a child. I thought I could believe that the system had changed and they'd put the proper procedures in place," the tearful mother told Nine Network.
"That could easily have been my daughter if it wasn't for that worker that took the rubbish out to the bins. She would have been on that bus until 3pm as well.
"My daughter was quite vocal as well. The fact that she was an only child that was picked up that morning as well, that was what came as a great shock to me that she had been forgotten about."
Goodstart Early Learning CEO Julia Davison said the Gold Coast incident had resulted in policy and procedural changes.
She said drivers must complete all checks in line with several policies including a "responsibilities checklist" while children are marked on a roll as they board and then a roll call is conducted at the end of each journey.
"After the incident on the Gold Coast we conducted a review of our policy, procedures and staff training," Ms Davison said.
"Our drivers are also expected to walk through the bus and check that it is empty."
She said their bus service was usually utilised by those who did not have the means or the finances to get their children to a learning centre.
"We provide the bus service in communities where families do not have the resources to get their children to early learning – and often these children are the ones who need it most as they come from families experiencing disadvantage," she said.
The driver who picked up a boy from his home and later discovered his small body inside a minibus was being treated in hospital for shock.
Police have yet to confirm if they have interviewed him.
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