Today host Allison Langdon confronted the boss of Goodstart following the deaths of a child in one of the firm's buses.
Today host Allison Langdon confronted the boss of Goodstart following the deaths of a child in one of the firm's buses.

‘A boy is dead’: Host takes on childcare boss

Today host Allison Langdon has taken the boss of a childcare company to task after the tragic death of a boy when he was left on one of the firm's buses unattended in 36C heat.

During this morning's live interview, Langdon suggested Goodstart Early Learning chief executive officer Julia Davison was "not doing enough" in the wake of the tragedy.

"A little boy is dead," she said.

"I don't know how has a parent I would ever allow my child to go on your bus."

The firey interview follows the death of a three-year-old boy on February 18, after it's alleged he had been left inside the vehicle for around six hours during a blazing hot day in the Cairns suburb of Edmonton.

Two people, both now former employees at Goodstart, have been charged with manslaughter following the death.

Ms Davison fronted up to Today after the company announced it would recommence bus services to bring children to and from its centres.

She said the firm was "still devastated" by the incident and the company had apologised and remained in contact with the family of the child that perished.

Police officers attend Hambledon State School in Cairns, where a boy was found dead in a Goodstart Early Learning Centre minibus. Picture: Brendan Radke
Police officers attend Hambledon State School in Cairns, where a boy was found dead in a Goodstart Early Learning Centre minibus. Picture: Brendan Radke

"Whilst we can't put the clock back, what we can do is look at everything we possibly can to make our bus service as safe as it possibly can be," she said.

Ms Davison said three staff would now be dedicated to the operation of each individual bus. As well as the driver, a supervisor will sit at the back of the bus to keep an eye on the children.

A new "checker" will not travel on the bus, but will board once it has reached its destination and ensure it's empty and take photos of the vehicle. These images will then be sent to a central Goodstart office, where they will be inspected to ensure no children remain inside the vehicle.

However, Langdon pointed out that a child had been left on a Goodstart bus on a previous occasion on the Gold Coast.

"How can any parent be reassured that your child is safe in your care?" she asked.

Ms Davison said the full details of what occurred in Cairns were still under investigation.

"What we do know is we have had a handful of bus incidents over the years here at Goodstart. Every time we've had an incident we've taken stock and we've reviewed and strengthened our policies and procedures," she said.

Goodstart CEO Julia Davison said the company had changed its policies to reduce the likelihood of such a tragic incident happening again.
Goodstart CEO Julia Davison said the company had changed its policies to reduce the likelihood of such a tragic incident happening again.

However, Langdon continue to push the childcare firm boss.

"With all due respect, we appreciate your turning out and talking to us today, but whatever you're doing isn't enough. A little boy is dead," she said.

"I don't know how has a parent I would ever allow my child to go on your bus."

But Ms Davison said parents were pleading with Goodstart to restart the services.

"There are family whose rely on these services. They want us to start going again so children can access high quality learning."

She said the firm had stopped the buses until they had put new policies and procedures in place and retrained every staff member.

"We will keep doing everything we possibly can to make sure that nothing like this can possibly happen again whilst a child is in our care."

Last week, the child's uncle said the loss of the boy had been, "distressing for all the family".

The family is indigenous and has refrained from using the boy's name for cultural reasons.

"He was a three-year-old boy, deeply connected to his siblings, peers and older children and played a big part in a very close-knitted family," his uncle Nick said on Wednesday.

"It's left many of us with the difficult task of trying to come to terms with his loss."

Police allege the boy was left on the bus when it was parked for the day outside Hambledon State School, about 1.7km from Goodstart's Edmonton centre.

The boy died after being left on a minibus for hours before he was discovered by centre manager and bus driver Michael Glen Lewis.

Dionne Grills leaves the Cairns watch house after being granted bail on February 25. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAP
Dionne Grills leaves the Cairns watch house after being granted bail on February 25. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAP

Mr Lewis and another childcare worker, Dionne Beatrice Grills, have been charged with manslaughter over the death and both have been bailed on the condition they don't contact co-workers, each other or the victim's family.

Their charges will again be mentioned in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 18.

During the bail hearing last week the court heard that Mr Lewis told authorities "my whole life is over" after finding the body of a baby in the back of the kindy bus he had been driving.

He made the comment during a call to triple-0 immediately after discovering the boy on the Goodstart Early Learning Centre bus at about 3.15pm, media reported.

According to the transcript of the call read out to the court, Mr Lewis told the emergency operator: "Oh my God, this kid is dead. The child was left on the bus all day. So sorry, buddy.

"I'm going to jail. Oh my God, my whole life is over."

Today host Allison Langdon confronted the boss of Goodstart following the deaths of a child in one of the firm's buses.
Today host Allison Langdon confronted the boss of Goodstart following the deaths of a child in one of the firm's buses.
Michael Lewis who along with Ms Grills is charged with manslaughter of a three old boy who died in a daycare minibus. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAP
Michael Lewis who along with Ms Grills is charged with manslaughter of a three old boy who died in a daycare minibus. Picture: Brian Cassey/AAP


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