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Childcare Helper Tried To Kill Own Kids

A WOMAN who tried to kill her son and daughter has been looking after children in a Melbourne kindergarten.
The mother is barred by the Victorian Supreme Court from caring for her own children, or even contacting them. She is under strict psychiatric supervision for the next 25 years, yet she was able to return to a job in January as an assistant at a kindergarten in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, caring for the children of unsuspecting parents.
A court heard the woman tried to kill her children in late 2003.
In November, the Supreme Court was told she tried to drug and gas herself and the children, then aged 12 and 10.
The woman, 45, was found not guilty of attempted murder on the grounds of mental impairment and no conviction was recorded. She returned to her part-time job in January.
The Herald Sun contacted the woman as part of its investigation on March 31. She would not comment. It is understood she quit that day.
The case has exposed a loophole in checks on people hired to care for children.
A Department of Human Services spokesman said yesterday that based on the circumstances, "the woman should not have resumed working with children".
"A police check had been conducted on the worker when she'd commenced at the pre-school several years ago," spokesman Graeme Walker said.
"She resumed in January this year and there was no requirement for a new police check."
He said a second police check would not have revealed that the woman tried to kill her own children because no conviction was recorded.
"When we were advised today by the Herald Sun of the circumstances of the matter, we immediately made contact with the kindergarten management," he said.
We were advised that the worker had resigned."
According to court documents filed as recently as three weeks ago, the woman described herself as a part-time kindergarten assistant working two half-days a week.
The Herald Sun is aware of the kindergarten, but chooses not to reveal its identity.
The Supreme Court heard last year that the woman tried to kill her children the day before the anniversary of her separation from her husband. They had been apart for 11 years.
The woman - whose identity was suppressed by Justice Philip Cummins - planned the murders for 12 months, the court heard.
While awaiting trial, she spent six months in the Thomas Embling Hospital for mentally-ill inmates. During this period she took leave without pay.
DHS spokesman Graeme Walker said the department conducted more than 3300 routine and spot inspections on kindergartens and childcare centres in 2004, including checking on whether police checks have been done.
"The Children Services Act requires all kindergarten workers to undergo the police check before they start working with children," he said.
"The State Government has also implemented an additional procedure recently where operators must sign a compliance statement yearly that all their workers have received police checks."
He said the DHS was told yesterday by the management of the kindergarten in question that they were unaware the woman tried to kill her children.
Kindergarten Parents Victoria told the Herald Sun that the protection of children was vital. "Clearly there needs to be close liaison between the courts and the government to make sure the data is put through," said chief executive officer Gerard Mansourhe.
"We need to protect children in all situations and that includes cases where the court chooses to exercise discretion."

Herald Sun (12-4-2005)
Russell Robinson

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