Warnings given on unfenced pond

THE drowning death of Banora Point toddler Travis McCarron has brought back sad memories for Casino residents.

Travis, 21 months, drowned in an unfenced pond while on a day care outing last Friday after three carers took him and a group of children to a Tweed Heads South playground.

Residents who live near the pond where Travis drowned had raised concerns the pond was unfenced, but it is understood there are a number of other playgrounds within Tweed shire that are located close to bodies of water.

It was a similar tragedy which claimed the life of Casino three-year-old Chloe Ensby in 2001.

Chloe drowned in a storm water retention pond at North Casino located 17 metres from residences.

In October, 2003, Richmond Valley Council decided not to fence the pond, but instead committed to a $47,000 'fix-up package' that included erecting warning signs, reducing the depth of the pond, tapering edges and planting natives shrubs as a barrier to the pond.

Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Council (NOROC) president Cr Ernie Bennett described the Tweed drowning as a real tragedy.

He said NOROC did not have a policy on fencing water courses or bodies of water.

"Each council will create their own policy about fencing bodies of water and water courses," he said.

Cr Bennett, who is also mayor of Kyogle Council, said it was difficult to create a policy that would cover every situation surrounding bodies of water.

"Many towns and villages have streams running through them, and the Kyogle local government area covers 6300 square kilometres, and there is literally thousands of ponds within this area," he said.

"I could not commit council to blocking every bit of water, it is an impossible task."

Tweed/Byron Local Area Command crime manager Insp Greg Carey said the coronial inquest to determine the nature and cause of the death of Travis McCarron could take some time.

The three female carers who were supervising the group of children at the playground will be interviewed as part of the investigations.

The legislation governing day care facilities, the Children's Services Regulation 2004, states that if children are taken on an excursion where there is a 'significant water hazard' there must be a minimum of one adult for each child who is under three years of age.

The carers involved in last week's incident were supervising 15 children, including Travis, aged between six months and four years, and a 12-year-old boy with special needs.

The ratio of carers to children is one of the issues under investigation.


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