Call for action on resort kids' clubs safety

Safe: Children get stuck in with manager Sharen Patey at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort.
Safe: Children get stuck in with manager Sharen Patey at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort. Photo: Michelle Smith

Parents love resort kids' clubs and creche services because it means they might get a bit of a holiday themselves. But few families realise these services are not subject to the same stringent regulations as regular childcare.

Australian child protection charity Child Wise is calling on the federal government to introduce a national child protection safety standard, which would apply to all sectors that work with children, including resort care.

Child Wise child protection policy and certification officer Scott Jacobs said the lack of national standards for resort childcare services makes it hard for parents to be sure a club is safe for children.

Legal requirements for kids' clubs currently vary from state to state, though states have working with children checks. childcare at Queensland holiday resorts, for example, is completely unregulated.

"Some services are going to be good, some mean well but they don't have the resources to put in proper protection," Mr Jacobs said. "Because there isn't the [national] oversight or guidelines, there isn't a consistent approach."

Child Wise's proposed national standard would cover work practices, effective recruitment and screening of childcare workers, and complaints procedures.

But Child Care Minister Kate Ellis said the federal government had "no plans" to expand the national childcare regulations to cover children's services at Australian resorts.

Despite the lack of regulation, specialist family travel agents say children are still safer at Australian resorts than anywhere else in the world.

"If you want total safety and security for your child you have to holiday in Australia," Travel with Kidz managing director Wendy Buckley said. "It's the only place it can be guaranteed."

Ms Buckley said most clients weren't conscious of the variation in standards of childcare at resorts until it was pointed out to them. "They become horrified," she said.

Sydney mother Carolyn Chessell is spending this school holidays with her family on the Sunshine Coast.

She has heard so many horror stories about children poorly supervised at resort kids' clubs that she said she would never risk sending her sons anywhere but the popular Kidz Cove at the Novotel resort.

"You talk to other parents about kids' clubs, they've had a bad experience," Ms Chessell, from Elanora Heights, said.

"I have never ever sent [my children] to another kids' club because I was too frightened."

The standard of care is especially important to her because her nine-year-old son Jack, is autistic and has a tendency to wander.

The Chessells regularly holiday at Twin Waters and Jack and his eight-year-old brother Tom have been going to Kidz Cove since they were pre-schoolers.

Comments