HUNTER families are celebrating a David versus Goliath style victory, after the Department of Education reversed its decision to offer a contract for before and after school care to a national company fined for letting an autistic boy leave one of its centres unnoticed.
Mother-of-two Robyn Adamson said parents “cried tears of relief” on Thursday, when Floraville Public School published a notice on its app confirming it had withdrawn its offer to the controversial Camp Australia.
“Most of us have not slept since Monday, it’s been a very stressful experience,” Ms Adamson said.
“We feel we’ve moved a mountain – we beat the big guy, the little guy won. Common sense has prevailed.”
Parents mobilised on Monday, after the school told them a selection panel including parents and citizens committee members had conducted the five-yearly review of the contract and chosen to end the relationship with current provider Active OOSH. Instead, it would offer the contract for the service – which is based at Floraville but also caters for students of Belmont, Belmont North and St Francis Xavier’s Primary – to Camp Australia.
The Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) ordered Camp Australia this year to pay the WA Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) $30,000, after a non-verbal seven year old boy with autism and Down syndrome walked unnoticed out of his after-school care and into a stranger’s backyard. The DLGC also applied to the SAT to take disciplinary action after allegations two five year olds left two separate centres unsupervised in July and August this year.
A department spokesperson said since the offer was made, “it has been established that during the tender period Camp Australia became ineligible to tender or receive any new licences”.
The department introduced a scheme on November 1 that disqualifies providers that wish to tender if they have been prosecuted in the past three years or are the subject of any complaints.
“Accordingly the letter of acceptance issued to Camp Australia has been revoked. The next highest rated tenderer, Active OOSH… has accepted the department's offer.”
Mrs Adamson said the more than 360 parents who joined a Facebook group to discuss the matter, plus others who the principal refused to meet, were not going to lie low. “We want to tell other schools to stand up for what they believe in – we want to have the tender process reviewed and we need an appeals process introduced,” she said. “We also need to have some kind of response from the principal – he needs to gain our trust back. A simple Google search brought up the breaches – where was the duty of care?”