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Australia 'Horrific flashbacks': Parents of toddlers who escaped childcare centre pursue legal action

10:00  04 november  2019
10:00  04 november  2019 Source:   theage.com.au

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The parents of two toddlers who escaped a childcare centre in Melbourne's south-west and ran onto a busy road are pursuing legal action , claiming it failed to keep their "Viewing the video footage has resulted in constant horrific flashbacks of which as parents has been a daily battle to contend with."

These centres are often provided in shopping centres , leisure centres and accommodation facilities. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs funds support programmes to help parents access quality childcare at a more affordable cost.

a group of people walking down the street: Childcare centre workers take the kids back across the road.© Supplied Childcare centre workers take the kids back across the road.

The parents of two toddlers who escaped a childcare centre in Melbourne's south-west and ran onto a busy road are pursuing legal action, claiming it failed to keep their kids safe.

Frightening dash-cam footage showed the two young children scampering across two lanes of traffic on Ballan Road after getting out of Werribee West Family Centre on March 12.

The children dashed onto the 70km/h road in Werribee with shocked motorists coming to a complete standstill.

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As the children ran across the second lane of traffic, a driver got out of their car and led the children to safety before childcare workers then ran out to collect the kids, who were uninjured.

The families of the two children are now investigating a public liability claim against the Werribee West Family Centre, which is operated by Early Childhood Management Services.

The Age revealed last week that the Education Department has laid charges against the centre's operator following the incident.

Clint, the father of one of the boys, said there was a "sense of happiness and justification" after the department's investigation into the incident led to charges.

The father of two from Werribee, whose son was two years old at the time of the incident, said he was angry about the way the centre handled the incident.

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"You put your trust in these people who do the wrong thing," he said. "The way they conducted themselves after was really poor we found."

He said he finds it extremely difficult and emotional to watch the footage of his son on the road.

Neither of his children have returned to the centre.

"I know a few parents have gone elsewhere. We sent our children to another centre nearby, they only go one day a week, instead of the full week. We only send him one day per week because it’s a trust issue for us more than anything."

a close up of a man: Clint with his son Luka.© Supplied Clint with his son Luka.

The father of the other child, Denis Jessop, who lives in Melbourne's west, said he had been disappointed with the centre’s communication around the incident.

"To this day, we still don’t actually know how they got out. Nothing, no apology. Nothing formal," he said.

Slater and Gordon senior associate Joseph Catoggio said the two families believed that "safety was not a priority for the centre on the day when this occurred".

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“Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not,” Dr. Levine said. That’s why parents hide certain toys from toddlers to avoid temper tantrums or take away a teenager’s car keys until he finishes his college applications.

a large red truck driving down a street: A large truck drives past in the minutes after the boys were on the road.© Supplied A large truck drives past in the minutes after the boys were on the road.

"The families trusted the centre to care for their sons and keep them safe and secure," he said.

"Allowing toddlers to run onto a main road with cars hurtling down the road at 70km/h is completely unacceptable and does not reflect the duty of care the centre is entrusted with by parents to ensure their children are kept safe and sound.

"Viewing the video footage has resulted in constant horrific flashbacks of which as parents has been a daily battle to contend with."

A spokeswoman for Early Childhood Management Services said as the matter was before the courts they were unable to comment further.

"We remain deeply sorry that this incident occurred and grateful that the children were unharmed. We notified the families as soon as the incident occurred, met with the families as well and offered whatever support we could," she said.

"We have taken significant steps since the incident to further review and enforce procedures at all our sites to protect the safety and well-being of children in our care."

A spokesman from Education Department said last week they could not confirm what charges were laid due to ongoing legal proceedings.

However, it's understood they relate to alleged breaches of the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, which includes penalties for the failure to adequately supervise children and to take reasonable precautions to protect children from harm and hazard.

The penalties for these breaches are $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for others such as a companies or organisations.

Early Childhood Management Services runs 70 kindergartens and childcare centres across Melbourne.

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