Parents Of Toddlers Left On Child Care Buses Say ‘Something Needs To Change’
One year before a child was found dead on a child care bus in Cairns, another little boy was being rushed to hospital with severe dehydration after he was forgotten inside a different bus on a hot summer day in NSW.
That two-year-old boy needed to be hospitalised after he was also left alone on a child care bus for six hours in the sweltering heat.
The toddler, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was forgotten inside the empty 12-seater bus in Yass, NSW, on a 29-degree day last February.
In that case, it was claimed the bus driver had only realised the child was trapped inside when she returned to the vehicle later that day. The driver was hit with a $4,500 fine.
A year later his mother claims he still screams in his sleep and suffers night terrors because of the incident.
"He'll tell me that he was scared on the bus, that he wanted his mummy," she told 10 daily.
"When I picked my little boy up from hospital he was not the same child that he was before school that day.
"After it happened, he would take a bag and make sure he had a hat, a water bottle, toys and snacks. It was like he had a survival pack if he was ever put in that situation again."
The mum-of-two said she met with the state's education department to report the incident, but claimed she had not received a response since February last year.
Her comments come on Australian Bus Safety Week, February 18-24, which is now in its fifth year.
It also comes as police investigate last week's death of a three-year-old boy on a minibus in Cairns, Queensland.
Police allege the boy was left on the bus when it was parked for the day outside Hambledon State School, about 1.7km from the Goodstart Early Learning Edmonton centre.
"There's no protocols, no guidelines. There's nothing [childcare centres] have to follow," the mother of the surviving toddler said.
"It's disgusting. It was a punch in the face, what happened ... You're dealing with children's lives."
The NSW education department was unable to confirm to 10 daily what policies were in place to ensure care centres were keeping young children safe on their buses.
After last week's toddler death Goodstart temporarily suspended its national pick up and drop off bus services.
Goodstart's CEO Julia Davidson said in a statement after the boy's death that the company is reviewing its safety policies after the tragedy.
"The services will only restart once we have assured ourselves that the best possible policies and staff training are in place," Davidson said.
"Some of the key elements of our procedures include: Children are marked on a roll when they board, and a roll call is conducted at the end of each journey. Our drivers are also expected to walk through the bus and check that it is empty."
Lisa Easton's daughter Violet ended up in a hospital emergency department after she was left on a Goodstart bus on the Gold Coast two years ago.
The 15-month-old was eventually discovered by a daycare worker after she walked past the bus and heard Violet's frantic cries.
"I got a call from the daycare centre and they said 'I'm so sorry, I've left your daughter on the bus for a long time'," Easton claimed.
"[When I got there] my daughter was starring off to space with a cold banana in her hand and she was looking at me like she couldn't register who I was.
"I knew straight away I had to get her to the hospital."
Easton claimed her daughter had spent more than an hour alone on the bus on a 32-degree day, and she now suffers from emotional and social anxiety as a result.
"Her separation anxiety is through the roof. It was such a hard road. She was such a social butterfly before. Now she calls out for me all the time and wants me to do everything with her," she told 10 daily.
You feel so guilty. You think, why didn't I just drive my child to school?
More than 600 people have signed a petition started by Easton calling for Goodstart's bus services to be shut down.
"I am calling for a change to the administration of the Goodstart Early Learning Centre," Easton said.
"This is not the first time this company has left a child on one of their buses with more cases coming to the surface," she added.
"How many more children have to be left on buses before something is done?"
10 daily has contacted Goodstart Early Learning Centre and The Department of Education for comment.
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