File image of tricycle / The West Australian
File image / The West Australian

Fifty WA childcare providers breached State regulations in the past year, with legal action or licence suspensions pursued against 11 services for problems including inadequate supervision and failing to report a child's hospital visit to authorities.

Figures provided by the Department for Communities, which regulates the State's 1318 licensees, showed another eight centres were threatened with licence suspensions but had the notice withdrawn. Community Services Minister Robyn McSweeney confirmed yesterday her department had carried out 2014 visits in the past financial year.

Of the 50 providers which had a "non-compliance" matter identified, 19 were served with a notice of intention to suspend, a notice of suspension or pursued through the State Administrative Tribunal for a more severe penalty.

Since 2010, the department has named and shamed providers with the most severe breaches on its website after a surge in breaches prompted a warning from the minister for them to "lift their game".

The website shows of the four providers fined by the tribunal in the past year, a record $52,500 fine was issued to Camp Australia in March after it found it repeatedly failed to ensure that a supervising officer was present at seven of its WA facilities.

The tribunal halved the fine after acknowledging Camp Australia had addressed the issues raised.

In other fines, Yacht Holdings, the operator of Magic Cottage Child Care Centre in Geraldton, was fined $2000 in April for failing to inform the department of an injury to a child which subsequently required a hospital visit.

A three-year-old boy hurt his toe after he climbed on to an unused fish tank and pulled it back on himself. It was the first breach for the operator in 16 years and the tribunal accepted not reporting the boy's mother later took him to hospital was inadvertent.

A $1700 fine was issued to Katie Blythe Pitchford of Como Children over inadequate supervision and fencing, while The Young Mens' Christian Association of Perth, operating YMCA Bunbury after-school care, was fined $5000 over supervision matters.

Ms McSweeney said publishing breaches allowed parents to make informed decisions and made the sector aware of monitoring.

Shadow community services minister Sue Ellery said it was important that spot checks, not just visits, were carried out annually on every childcare centre.

The West Australian

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