Goodstart’s rollcall of shame: Kids left behind before Cairns death

A BABY was left on a Goodstart bus near Toowoomba just weeks before a boy tragically died in similar circumstances in far north Queensland.

A whistleblower raised the alarm that children had been left on Goodstart buses before, saying the company's policies should have been strengthened long before a three-year-old boy was left to die on one their buses in Cairns.

The Courier-Mail can now reveal in January this year a one-year-old child was left on the bus by a driver at Harristown Goodstart centre after neither the driver nor staff in the centre did a headcount, the source said.

The child was discovered later when the driver went back to the bus for his second transport pick-up round.

Police at the scene where a three-year-old child was found in a childcare bus in Cairns. Picture: Brendan Radke
Police at the scene where a three-year-old child was found in a childcare bus in Cairns. Picture: Brendan Radke

In a statement, a Goodstart Early Learning centre spokeswoman confirmed the one-year-old was left unsupervised for three to five minutes.

"The incident was thoroughly investigated, reported to the regulatory authorities and subsequent disciplinary action taken," she said. "The two staff members involved are no longer employed by Goodstart."

In 2015, a similar incident occurred at a nearby Goodstart Early Learning centre on Healy St centre in South Toowoomba where a three-year-old child was left on a minibus after the driver and room staff failed to complete a headcount, the source said.

The spokeswoman said the three-year-old child was left unsupervised for 10 minutes, which also resulted in a staff member being sacked.

These newly revealed incidents join another close call in January 2018, where a mother was distressed after her daughter was left on a bus at a Gold Coast Goodstart centre for more than an hour in 30C temperatures.

Late last month a Queensland court heard the boy in Cairns was left to die alone in a hot bus because of a "significant systems failure" and "appalling" criminal negligence.

Goodstart Edmonton director Michael Glenn Lewis and employee Dionne Batrice Grills were both granted bail on manslaughter charges.

The boy's family will bury him tomorrow.