The State Government will strengthen regulations for family day care operators to improve child safety at residences with swimming pools, spas or water features.
The changes announced by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk today address recommendations handed down at the completion of a 2018 coronial inquest into the tragic death of Lachlan Mitchell, who drowned at a family day care service in 2015.
Under the sector’s updated regulations, swimming pools and spas will be gradually phased out from family day care services.
Existing family day care services with pools, spas and water features will also be made safer by new compliance requirements, including monthly inspections of these residences and additional safety devices on site.
A transition period will apply to ensure that family day care providers and educators have time to meet the new compliance requirements, including any applicants currently in the process to commence or transfer.
The updated regulatory requirements will mean:
- existing educators in residences with pools or spas can continue to operate, but will not be eligible to transfer to another approved provider once the transition period has ended;
- a ban on new family day care services in residences with pools or spas, except those in the application process until a specified date as part of the transition period;
- monthly inspections of each family day care residence with a pool, spa or water feature by an approved provider;
- existing family day care educators with pools or spas will be required to have additional safety device/s designed to alert or deter a child from entering the water;
- approved providers need to be trained by a qualified third party to undertake inspections of pools, spas and water features at each family day care residence; and
- all family day care educators will need to have a back-up means of communication in a fixed location, in case of emergency.
The Department of Communities will work immediately to enact the regulatory updates and will collaborate with the sector to support it through the transition period.
As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:
“I am confident phasing out swimming pools and spas, paired with new safety requirements for all residences with gathered water on site, will improve the safety of children at family day care services.
“As the child care regulator in Western Australia, the Department of Communities maintains robust policies and processes around family day care services, and I believe these changes will further support child safety outcomes.
“Following the coronial inquest into Lachlan Mitchell’s tragic death, I promised to take the coroner’s recommendations into account, hear views from within the sector and consider public submissions on the potential changes.
“I have also spoken to Lachlan’s mother, Melanie Mitchell, throughout this process, and I would like to acknowledge and thank her for engaging purposefully to help implement meaningful sector changes that will support better child safety outcomes.”