A pool operator and the Victorian Department of Education have been charged over the death of an eight-year-old boy who drowned while on a school trip.
Cooper Onyett died in May 2021 at Belfast Aquatics, in south west Victoria, while on his first overnight camp with Merrivale Primary School.
His devastated family were dealt a further blow when they were forced to have a much-reduced funeral for the youngster due to Covid restrictions which only allowed for 10 guests.
Cooper Onyett drowned in a pool at Belfast Aquatics in Port Fairy just before 11am while on his first overnight camp with Merrivale Primary School’s grade two class.
Worksafe Victoria on Friday charged the pool operator, Port Fairy Community Pool Management Group Inc, with six breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The pool operator has been accused of failing to properly assess the swimming ability of the schoolchildren as well as failing to have qualified lifeguards on duty and failing to properly instruct lifeguards.
“WorkSafe will allege the pool failed to test the swimming ability of the students before allowing them to use an inflatable obstacle course, have currently qualified lifeguards on duty and instruct lifeguards on the safe use of the inflatable,” a WorkSafe spokesman said.
Cooper Onyett. Picture: Facebook / https://www.facebook.com/tennielle.onyett
The Department of Education has also been charged with one breach of the Act.
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“WorkSafe will allege the Department failed to inform the pool of the children’s swimming abilities or ensure their abilities were tested,” the spokesman said.
The case is expected to be heard at Warrnambool Magistrates‘ Court at the end of the month.
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