Hon Simone McGurk BA(Arts) BA(Comms) MLA

Hon Simone McGurk BA(Arts) BA(Comms) MLA

Minister for Child Protection; Women's Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services

    Childcare operators in hot water over burn incidents

    2/06/2022 10:30 AM
    • Childcare service operators prosecuted after children suffer burns from hot liquids
    • Operators warned to be aware of the risk and ensure staff are adequately trained
    • Department of Communities carries out spot checks to make sure operators are compliant

    Childcare operators are being reminded of the dangers of hot liquids around children after a string of recent incidents where children suffered serious burns.


    June is National Burns Awareness Month, and as the weather grows cooler, it is a timely reminder for operators to ensure they are on alert for hazards. 


    Over the past year, the Department of Communities has prosecuted three childcare services over the following:

    • An 11-month-old boy suffered burns after a bucket filled with boiling hot water was left on the floor of a childcare service. He leaned on it to stand up and lost his balance, resulting in his right arm going into the hot water, from his wrist to his shoulder.
    • A 16-month-old boy sustained significant injuries when hot tea spilt on him. The tea was in a travel mug that had been placed by an educator on a surface within the child's reach.
    • A five-year-old girl sustained second degree burns to her chest, her right forearm and minor burns to her face when she was splashed with hot water during a playdough-making activity.

    All three children required hospital treatment. One required skin grafting, and another continues to require ongoing occupational therapy and treatment.


    The childcare service operators that were prosecuted were each fined over $25,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal after Department of Communities investigations into the incidents.


    As regulator, the Department of Communities carries out spot checks to make sure operators are compliant.


    Communities also supports the sector through the provision of information to assist operators in delivering safe environments for children in their care.


    The Department of Communities is also able to suspend services from operating if it finds that children have been put at serious risk.


    Comments attributed to Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:


    "Burn injuries can have life-long physical and psychological consequences for children. They are incredibly distressing for the children involved, their families and staff.


    "The dangers of using hot water near children are well known, and hot water should not be used in an activity at an education and care service in any circumstances.


    "Childcare services are ultimately responsible for the actions of their educators and staff under the national law, and they need to ensure their staff are trained in the appropriate practices.


    "The State Government acknowledges and is grateful for the hard work of early childhood educators and centres who do the right thing when it comes to keeping children safe.


    "The State Government regularly investigates and prosecutes operators who do the wrong thing. Operators who flout the rules face hefty fines, and even suspension."


    Minister's office - 6552 6600