Sex assault shows blue card not enough: childcare operators

SUNSHINE Coast childcare operators say procedures should have prevented the alleged sexual assault of a two-year-old at a Brisbane centre last week.

A 20-year-old male childcare centre employee, who is believed to have held a Blue Card, has been charged with the attempted rape of a two-year-old boy.

He was charged after a woman arrived to pick up the boy and allegedly found him being molested in a back room.

One childcare centre worker on the Coast said a Blue Card was not proof that a person was safe to work with children, only that they did not have previous convictions.

"Anyone can get one, as long as you don't get caught," she said.

Childcare workers said the best way to ensure children were safe was for all staff to follow procedures to ensure they were never placed in vulnerable situations.

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A representative of one centre, who also asked not to be named, said staff members should be working in pairs and in eye contact with each other at all times.

If a staff member had cause to take a child into a room alone, it was common practice to tell someone else why and keep the door open.

Patrice Vaughan, director of Noosaville Childcare and Preschool Centre, said staff undertook annual training in child protection.

But the centre would seek the advice of a workplace health and safety consultant on whether any extra precautions were needed, she said.

Ms Vaughan said incidents such as the alleged case were rare.

"I've only heard of something similar once in 20 years and that was in New Zealand," she said.

Kathy Butler, of the Aroona Childcare Centre, said the centre had long-term staff members who knew and worked with each other.

"We don't find we have much of an issue," she said.

She was shocked by the alleged incident and said it would reflect badly on other male workers.

"The sad thing is that's why you don't care many male workers at childcare centres," she said.

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