Following the tragic drowning of two year old Lachlan in Perth, WA Minister for Local Government and Community Services Tony Simpson plans to propose a ban on swimming pools in family daycare centres.
The minister says he will make the proposal to the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), the body that administers family daycare centres across Australia under the National Quality Framework. As ACECQA is a national body, if it accepts the proposal, the ban would apply across the country.
Lachlan’s distraught parents argued for an increase in the height of swimming pool fences in daycare centres from the current 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres, but the minister says this proposal would be problematic as it would have to apply to all residential swimming pool fences in Western Australia.
The minister says that if that proposal failed to gain traction, he would push ahead with a ban at a state level.
“I can only imagine what Lachlan’s parents are going through at the moment and as the minister responsible for childcare I can’t help but think the easy answer would be let’s just take [pools] out of the childcare centre and that way this will never happen again,” he says.
“It’s bad enough dealing with a drowning in anyone’s backyard or in the ocean but at a place where you’re operating a business, I think to me this would be the easiest way to fix this.”
He also requested his director-general ensure all family daycare centres in WA were currently operating within the rules and asked for a new agenda item to be added to the upcoming meeting of the Early Childhood Policy Group.
He said the pool fence in question had been inspected annually for the past five years, most recently in March, and had ticked all the safety boxes.
There has been unconfirmed speculation that Lachlan climbed the fence using toys stacked up against it. The centre has been closed pending a coronial investigation.
The daycare centre had been running for about 12 months with the support of not-for-profit service provider Communicare. Communicare CEO Melissa Perry said the Carramar educator held a valid first aid certificate and her pool was gated, secure and inspected earlier this year.
“All our efforts right now are focused on supporting her, and everyone else associated with this tragic accident,” she says.
Meanwhile a mother’s video has been published on the Sunshine Coast Daily website showing her young child climbing over a compliant 1.2 metre gate, highlighting the need for constant supervision of children, regardless of the barriers in place.