Major Coast after-school carer facing dozens of charges
ONE of the Gold Coast's largest providers of after-school care faces 48 court charges after alleged understaffing and inadequate records.
The raft of charges include an alleged instance where up to 38 children were allegedly left alone with one staffer from out-of-school-hour-care (OSHC) provider Camp Australia.
National regulations require at least one educator for every 15 children over preschool age.
The charges, filed against Camp Australia and related entities in November 2018, detail a number of alleged breaches at facilities Gold Coast-wide in 2016 and 2017.
Breaches allegedly occurred during private after-hours care while Camp Australia was contracted at Park Lake State School, Coomera Spring State School, Emmanuel College, Tallebudgera State School, Tamborine Mountain State School, Varsity College and Currumbin State School.
The Department of Education case, mentioned in Southport Magistrates Court yesterday, is scheduled for a hearing in December, when both parties will agree to a statement of facts.
Last night, Minister for Education Grace Grace said OHSC services were provided directly via school P&Cs, and the Department of Education held no contracts with Camp Australia.
But she added: "The Department of Education as regulator through its monitoring activities identified a range of concerns and alleged breaches at their OHSC services. As the safety and wellbeing of our students is paramount, compliance notices were immediately issued, and action taken requiring Camp Australia to rectify these breaches.
"I can assure all parents and carers the Department has at all times worked closely with Camp Australia to address the issues and has ensured concrete measures are now in place to ensure Camp Australia meets its legal obligations."
Alleged breaches detailed in court documents include:
- Seven breaches at Park Lake State State School OSHC in April and December of 2017 including 46 children left with two staff members.
The department also alleged sign in documents at the Pacific Pines facility were not accurate.
- Three staffing ratio breaches in March and April 2017 at the Coomera Springs State School OSHC run by Camp Australia.
All charges related to child to carer ratio breaches. The most extreme occurred when one educator was allegedly left with up to 25 children for a period of three hours.
- Three instances of understaffing at the Emmanuel College OSHC service in January 2017.
The worst alleged incident was on January 17 where one educator was left to attend 22 children.
- Five similar cases at the Tallebudgera State School Camp Australia Program in 2017.
- Tamborine Mountain State School had five separate allegations of understaffing and two recording issues where staff allegedly failed to record the presence of a child.
- An operation at Varsity College recorded eleven alleged offences related to staffing arrangements.
In one instance in April 2017, 112 children were allegedly under the care of six educators - a ratio of 18.6 to one.
- The Currumbin State School facility recorded six alleged cases of staffing ratio offences.
At one point one staff member was allegedly left with 38 children.
A spokesman for Camp Australia said it is unable to discuss an ongoing court matter.
"Camp Australia takes its obligations under the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) very seriously," he said.
"These proceedings relate to staff rostering and administration issues between late 2016 and early 2017."
In August it was revealed Camp Australia's operations in Coombabah, Canungra and Elanora all failed to meet national standards during their last audit by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority.
So far this year two Camp Australia facilities have faced enforcement action by the Victorian Education Department.
In December, 2016, the company was banned from tendering new contracts with the NSW education department or renewing existing ones because it failed to meet requirements.
Camp Australia is listed as an OSHC provider for nine Gold Coast schools.