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Parents Distraught Over Child Care Abuse Claims


DISTRESSED parents say their children were bitten, kicked and punched by staff at a childcare centre in Melbourne's outer east.
The Hallam Child Care Centre was closed last week by the Department of Human Services after complaints from parents and the launch of a police investigation.
A staff member who allegedly abused children at the centre has been stood down.
Victoria Police confirmed it was investigating a series of physical assaults at the centre but had not laid any charges.
A woman, who did not wish to be named, told the Herald Sun she was horrified at the alleged abuse. Two of her children, aged three and two, attended the centre.
A mother of a three-year-old boy at the centre alleged the children were locked in cardboard boxes for up to 15 minutes at a time. "I'm more angry than anything. I'm still angry," she said.
The woman said she no longer wanted her son to attend a childcare centre.
But another mother of a child who attended the centre, who also did not wish to be named, defended the staff and said the allegations were false.
A DHS spokeswoman said an investigation was launched immediately after complaints from parents were received in late March.
She said the DHS investigation identified "serious issues" with the centre's programs, supervision, staff qualifications and conduct.
She said allegations of mistreatment were "not of a sexual nature".
The spokeswoman said the DHS refused to grant a licence after the operator of the centre failed to rectify its concerns within 14 days.
"The operator was then given seven days to close the service and DHS officers remained on site until the closure," she said.
She said alternative places had been found for all the children in the local area.
The privately-run childcare centre was licensed to care for 35 children from birth to five years. The Children's Services Register shows it was fully licensed by the State Government at the time of the alleged offences.
The centre's operator did not return calls to the Herald Sun yesterday.
POLICE yesterday confirmed a 19-year-old man had been questioned over a series of alleged child sex offences at a family child-minding business in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.
The man was interviewed last week about alleged offences dating back several years at the home in the City of Whitehorse. He has not been charged.

Herald Sun (30-5-2005)
Geraldine Mitchell - Holly Ife


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