Coroner considers Travis evidence

FINDINGS from the Travis McCarron coronial inquest are expected within seven weeks, and Australian childcare associations are bracing themselves for the recommendations.

The second week of the inquest wrapped up in Sydney last Thursday and Deputy State Coroner of New South Wales Paul McMahon intends to hand down his decision in Tweed Heads court by October.

An inquest examining the 21-month-old's April 2008 drowning death during a Tweed Shire Family Day Care (TSFDC) park excursion to Russell Way Park, Tweed Heads South, started in April this year and was adjourned until August 3 when a week was not enough time to hear all the evidence.

Solicitor Sean Radburn, who has represented the McCarron family at the inquest, said it was acknowledged on the final day of hearings that Mr McMahon had significant issues to consider, and that his decision would have wide-ranging effects.

“It was agreed that the decision would have far-reaching implications for all day care associations around Australia who are waiting for the recommendations,” Mr Radburn said.

Discussion also turned to whether the Vintage Lakes park should be classified as high risk, as there were concealed ponds nearby.

In the aftermath of Travis' death, the McCarron family has campaigned for fences to be put around play equipment at Tweed parks and Mr Radburn said a change to Tweed Shire Council policies was something the family hoped to see.

“A fence confining children to a play area can prevent this tragedy occurring again,” Mr Radburn said.

It is also understood a review of Department of Community Services legislation has begun.

Coroner Paul McMahon retired to make his decision after hearing from two Tweed Shire Family Day Care Child Development Officers, a DOCS representative, experts in water safety and Tweed Shire Council's asset risk manager.

“All the evidence has been explored and now the inquest is adjourned while he considers all the evidence and delivers his findings and recommendations, which he is hopeful of doing within seven weeks up in Tweed Heads court,” Mr Radburn said.

In April this year, the first week of the inquest was held at Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah. Evidence was presented that three carers took their children to the Russell Way Park for an excursion, bringing the total number of children under supervision at the park on the day of Travis' death to 15. Carers also told the court they were unaware of the pond where the toddler drowned.

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