Family face months waiting for answers

THE coronial inquest into the drowning death of Banora Point toddler Travis McCarron's could take months, say local police.

Travis, 21 months, drowned while on a day care outing on Friday last week after three carers took him and a group of children to a Tweed Heads South playground.

Police said Travis wandered away from the group unnoticed and was later found unconscious in a pond about 50m from the playground.

He was unable to be revived.

Tweed/Byron Local Area Command Crime Manager Greg Carey said the coronial hearing and outcome to determine the nature and cause of the death could take some time. He said for now detectives were continuing their investigations.

"The challenge for detectives now is to interview all the appropriate witnesses and report back to the coroner," Insp Carey said.

"The detectives will also be contacting Tweed Shire Council to get their perspective on the incident."

Insp Carey said at least two witnesses were being formally interviewed yesterday.

A Tweed Shire Council spokeswoman confirmed council would be doing their own internal investigation into the incident, but would not comment further on what she described as "a police matter".

The Department of Community Services (DoCS) will also investigate the incident, as will Work Cover and the family day care centre involved.

The three female carers who were supervising the group of children at the playground will be interviewed as part of the investigations.

Monique Webber, general manager of Family Day Care Australia, said family day carers were usually self employed and worked in partnership with a management organisation, as is the case with Tweed Shire Family Day Care.

Tweed Shire Family Day Care has more than 80 carers in the local area who provide care from their homes with the assistance of a professional co-ordination unit team.

Ms Webber said all carers were put through rigorous training and face strict conduct regulations.

"There are Commonwealth guidelines, state regulations, national standards and then there is accreditation from the National Childcare Accreditation Council, which Tweed Shire Family Day Care has," Ms Webber said.

Ms Webber said all carers must have current first aid qualifications.

The legislation governing day care facilities, the Children's Services Regulation 2004, states that if children are taken on an excursion where there is a "significant water hazard" there must be a minimum of one adult for each child who is under three years of age; one adult for each two children who are three or more years of age, but who do not normally attend school; and one adult for each five children who normally attend school.

The carers involved in last week's incident were supervising 15 children, including Travis, aged between six months and four years and a 12-year-old boy with special needs.

The ratio of carers to children is one of the issues under investigation. Residents who live near the pond where Travis drowned have raised their concerns that the water is unfenced, however it is understood that there are a number of other playgrounds within Tweed shire that are located close to bodies of water. Travis' parents Kirsty and Ricky have told friends they are struggling to understand the tragic loss of their son.

A friend said the couple are very well loved within the local community and have had a strong support system of family and friends to help them through their grief.



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