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Service resumes after childcare bus tragedy

THE childcare provider at the centre of a Cairns tragedy will reinstate its bus services with "additional safety measures" after a toddler was found dead in one the vehicles on February 18.

Goodstart Early Learning has announced that buses will resume on Tuesday with strengthened safety procedures following a review by its national Safe Work team.

Goodstart Early Learning indefinitely suspended its bus services after a devastating incident where a three-year-old boy was found dead in one of the its buses outside the Edmonton Centre in Cairns.

Members of the public have laid flowers and left teddies at the Goodstart Early Learning Centre, Edmonton, following the tragic death of a boy, 3, left in a minibus. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Members of the public have laid flowers and left teddies at the Goodstart Early Learning Centre, Edmonton, following the tragic death of a boy, 3, left in a minibus. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Centre manager and bus driver Michael Glen Lewis, 45, and childcare worker Dionne Beatrice Grills, 34, were both charged with one count each of manslaughter with police alleging the boy was left unattended in the vehicle for six hours, on a day when Cairns temperatures soared as high as 36C.

The service will resume with newly-designated safety roles including a newly-designated supervisor will sit at the back of the bus checking the vehicle is empty as the leave for the door.

A centre-based checker will also inspect each bus on its arrival to the centre - double-checking the roll and photographing the empty vehicles.

Goodstart early Learning CEO Julia Davidson said the organisation's primary focus in the past fortnight had been on the little boy's family as well as educators, families and children at the Edmonton centres, who had all been devastated by the tragedy.

Police officers attend Hambledon State School at Edmonton, where a 3 year old was found dead in a Goodstart Early Learning Centre minibus at around 3:30pm on Tuesday. A police forensic officer inspects the van. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Police officers attend Hambledon State School at Edmonton, where a 3 year old was found dead in a Goodstart Early Learning Centre minibus at around 3:30pm on Tuesday. A police forensic officer inspects the van. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

 

"We are no closer to understanding why the robust policies and procedures on bus safety appear to have been ignored on February 18," she said.

"This makes the events in Edmonton all the more bewildering."

Ms Davidson said the bus service would recommence because it was "vital" for certain families and children who attend childcare centres.

"Our focus on quality, safety and reconciliation will continue while we learn the lessons from this tragic event - and share them with others in the sector to protect all Australian children," she said.

She said Goodstart took its responsibilities for the safety of children extremely seriously.


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