What the???? How??? Uh??? The political class are simply buffoons….
This is bordering on Monty Python’s Cheese shop. A child daycare centre without kids. This sentence makes the point “..there is no explicit requirement in federal legislation for a care provider to actually look after children..” $1.6m handed to daycare business operator without proof of kids
“…In the 16 months Ruben Majok Aleer Aguer ran a family daycare business from his Canberra home, he received $1.6 million in federal government money, even though multiple officials sent to do compliance checks never spotted a child confirmed to be in care.
Mr Aguer, a church youth minister and former ACT Education Department staffer who came to Australia from a Sudanese refugee camp, received $100,000 a month in childcare benefits for 74 children whose existence was never verified by government and 21 educators.
The Australian can reveal there is no explicit requirement in federal legislation for a care provider to actually look after children. The legislation deals mainly with the qualifications of educators and requirements to display approval information.
States have urged the federal government to change the act, through which more than $1 billion of taxpayer money has been siphoned fraudulently, as a matter of priority and will discuss options for reform in December.
In an ACT civil proceeding involving Mr Aguer, the director of Long Life Family Daycare was unable to provide complete or accurate evidence to support his claim he employed educators nor any of the three support co-ordinators he ought to have had on his books. In multiple spot checks and arranged inspections, regulatory staff from the ACT Education Department were never able to confirm there were any children in care.
The tribunal stated “no allegation of misuse of these funds” was expressly put to Mr Aguer.
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The ACT authorities found he failed to employ care co-ordinators and that some of the Certificate III qualifications of Mr Aguer’s alleged educators were from the deregistered Australian Vocational Driving Institute.
Mr Aguer’s business was suspended by the ACT government in September last year and he appealed against the decision, resulting in the matter being brought before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for review this year.
The details provide a startling anatomy of large sums of money being passed to providers with few checks.
“It is apparent … that there was considerable goodwill toward the applicant and a desire within (the ACT government) to get the business operational,” a senior tribunal member said.
A lawyer for the Education Directorate told the tribunal that patience was extended to Mr Aguer partly because “the regulator does have an interest in providing diversity within the family daycare marketplace, if we can put it that way, and having particular groups within the community provide family daycare is seen as a desirable outcome. But, for that reason the patience, if I put it that way, that the regulator showed Mr Aguer in relation to the various aspects of getting into the marketplace was reflective of that concern.”
The relationship soon soured, when Mr Aguer, who had struggled from the beginning to provide appropriately filled-in paperwork began an escalating series of bizarre excuses to avoid having his educators and place of business inspected. In his first attempt to register the business he misspelt the name and had bought policy documents from a Sydney company called Blizz prompting. Mr Aguer first delayed a visit because he was installing a software update and all his educators had the day off, then claimed a co-ordinator was sick and, when he relented to a site visit, claimed to be working from a temporary office.
“Later, on 4 August 2014 (ACT staff) and Mr Aguer visited the house of an educator, Ms Deng,” the judgment says. “Notes indicate that they arrived at Ms Deng’s home at the same time as a scheduled electrician, and that the presence of so many strangers made the children unsettled.
“The inspection was ended as a consequence. The children were not identified in that visit.”
Mr Aguer moved into several other “temporary offices”. When he finally let inspectors visit his home all the information they needed to see was kept in boxes.
The months dragged on and the tribunal noted: “If Mr Aguer’s evidence to the tribunal is accepted he had, by this time (late November 2014) been operating a care service for six months, and the service engaged 10 educators who cared for in excess of 30 children. Yet the respondent (ACT) had seen no evidence of any staff, or any children, and nor had it properly inspected a principal office or the premises of any carer.”
One child seen on a site visit may have been related to a carer.
Mr Aguer ran his business for 10 months before he received his first compliance notice in February last year. The business was eventually suspended in September and, after the ACT civil hearing, Mr Aguer’s accreditation was cancelled by the territory government over failure to have correct information displayed and the lack of contractual evidence of educators being employed.
Mr Aguer told The Australian yesterday he would fight the cancellation, though he conceded he did not have the correct number of co-ordinators with signed contracts. “I’m still demanding for my licence to be issued back again,” he said at his home. “They (the money) come through me and I pay them to the carers, who were looking after the kids. There was not any case against children — abuse — or anything raised against me.”
Mr Aguer plans to reopen.
The tribunal found that, after 14 months in operation, they heard from only one of the 21 educators who Mr Aguer claimed worked for him and she did not have an employment contract.
Any effort to recover the $1.6m is the responsibility of the federal government. The Australian is not aware of any proceedings.