Supervisors to monitor national childcare service buses after boy’s death

Goodstart Early Learning centres will have supervisors checking buses and inside the centres after the boy's death.

Goodstart Early Learning centres will have supervisors checking buses and inside the centres after the boy's death. Photo: ABC News

Supervisors will be brought in to monitor a national childcare service’s buses and centres two weeks after a three-year-old boy was found dead after being left in a minibus in far north Queensland.

From Tuesday, additional safety measures will be introduced at Goodstart Early Learning centres across the country after two staff were charged with manslaughter over the boy’s death at Edmonton, Cairns.

Two staff have been charged with manslaughter as a result of the death and both have been sacked by the company.

A supervisor will sit at the back of Goodstart Early Learning buses and there will be an additional “checker” at childcare centres to do a sweep of the bus after the company reviewed its policies and procedures after the tragedy.

In addition, the staff member, who acts as the bus supervisor, is required to sit at the rear of the vehicle for the entire journey.

The checker is a centre-based staff member who meets, greets and checks a vehicle on its arrival.

While bus services have resumed, the kindergarten has yet to reopen.

“The Edmonton centre remains closed at the moment,” a Goodstart Early Learning Centre representative said.

“The bus services which have resumed are across the entire national Goodstart service at centres which offer pick up and drop off services.

“Both staff involved in the incident had their employment terminated following the charges which were laid.”

Goodstart Early Learning CEO Julia Davidson said the company had apologised to the boy’s family and was still trying to fathom what occurred in Cairns.

“This makes the events in Edmonton all the more bewildering. We don’t know why a senior staff member – who had received significant training and recent reminders about bus safety – apparently disregarded procedures,” she said.

“As was noted in court, rigorous policies and procedures around bus transport were in place at Edmonton.

“We had very strong procedures in place and now we are moving to strengthen them even further.”

She said there had been a number of incidents with Goodstart buses in recent years, after which additional safety measures were also introduced.

Charges laid in Cairns Magistrates Court

Bus driver Michael Glen Lewis and childcare worker, Dionne Beatrice Grills, have been charged with manslaughter over the death.

They were both bailed last week on the condition neither contact co-workers, each other or the victim’s family.

Lewis was ordered to surrender his passport and not come within 100m of an international point of departure.

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

-with AAP

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