‘Corporate failure’: Judge slams daycare firm over bus death

 

CAIRNS' top judge has delivered a scathing attack on the daycare company which operated a bus that a toddler was left on for six hours, describing it as "organisational or corporate failure".

In sentencing the former centre director of Edmonton Goodstart Early Learning Centre, Justice Jim Henry said while Michael Glenn Lewis, 46, had been negligent, he was also impeded by "organisationally inadequate and under-resourced arrangements" which left the centre short staffed and unable to properly handle bus collection of children.

The Cairns Supreme Court heard the centre's usual bus driver was on leave when Maliq Nicholas Floyd Namok-Malamoo, 3, was left on the vehicle for almost six hours in February 18 last year.

A police forensic officer inspects the Goodstart van. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
A police forensic officer inspects the Goodstart van. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

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"Your counsel described your workplace as one in which you were doing the best with what you had," Justice Henry said, while sentencing Lewis on Wednesday.

"Just as this tragedy would not have happened if you had followed the sign-in sheet procedure, it is almost most unlikely to have happened if the centre had adequate relieve staff so that (the usual driver's) absence on leave did not leave the centre's depleted staff spread too thin to tend to the morning collection runs in the normal way.

Maliq “Meeky” Namok-Malamoo, 3, died after he was left for six hours in a day care centre bus in Cairns
Maliq “Meeky” Namok-Malamoo, 3, died after he was left for six hours in a day care centre bus in Cairns

"The driver would have been focused on the task at hand rather than performing it, as you were, as a belated hurried side task during a morning of delays and distractions arising from the inadequate suitable arrangements in place for bussing children that morning."

But Goodstart, which operates more than 600 centres around the country, has vowed it had put "safety in the spotlight" following the tragedy.

Chief executive Julia Davison said the company had been "deeply affected" by Maliq's death and had worked to improve and strengthen safety policies and procedures in the past year.

Michael Glenn Lewis enters Cairns court house. Picture: Brendan Radke
Michael Glenn Lewis enters Cairns court house. Picture: Brendan Radke

"In the past 12 months the Edmonton centre has been permanently closed and we have undertaken extensive safety reviews and trialled new technology which has resulted in further improvements to our transport and assurance policies," she said.

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Corporate failure': Top judge slams daycare company over bus death



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