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Riding school guilty of child labour

STAFF REPORTER

The owner of a riding school at Darlington in Perth’s east has pleaded guilty to illegally employing two 12-year-olds and a 14-year old as stable hands.

Rebecca Andree Speyer, who owns Avonlea Farm Riding School, yesterday entered a plea of guilty in the Perth Industrial Magistrates Court to three charges of illegally employing children.

Under the Children and Community Services Act 2004, it is illegal for agriculture-related businesses to employ children younger than 15.

The court imposed a 12-month, $5000 conditional release order on Ms Speyer.

Government spokesman Joseph Lee said the penalty had demonstrated the seriousness with which the court viewed the offence.

“This case should serve as a warning to all employers of the consequences of not abiding by this legislation,” Mr Lee said.

“Of particular concern is the environment in which these children were working.

“There are clear and inherent risks associated with children working in and around large animals in confined areas.

“Horses are susceptible to taking fright and, in some circumstances, are capable of inflicting serious injury.”

2 Responses to “Riding school guilty of child labour”

  1. CAROL BRANDS says:

    Thank goodness for some common sense from Jeffg. Young people are employed at Riding Schools all over WA. The children employed at them are all eager to work there. Their parents support their employment because it teaches them animal husbandry and a whole lot of really good habits. Working at the stables is no more dangerous than riding the horses and riding schools make sure the horses they use have docile temperaments precisely because they are ridden and cared for by children.
    Mr Lee from the Department of Commerce says “the penalty had demonstrated the seriousness with which the court viewed the offence.” I beg to differ. If you look on the net you will find that the maximum penalty for such an offence is $24,000 per child, in this case a possible $72,00. The fine imposed was a $5000 conditional release, in other words a suspended fine. Hardly an indication of the kind of attitude Mr Lee is pushing.

    If Mr Lee had ever visited a Riding School he might realise that most of the work is a healthy outdoor pursuit far better for the children involved than working in a fast food restaurant which they are allowed to do at a much younger age.

  2. jeffg says:

    what an interesting story, thanks for the coverage oneperth.

    i’ll comment, though i wish there were a bit more information in the story as i’m left with more questions. i appreciate that the answers might not be easily got because of the age of the people in the case.

    i say “neigh” to this ruling. did anyone ask the kids if they wanted to do this work? i bet they were happy doing it. where they missing school time? were they being “pressed” into service? did some horsey 15 or 18 year-old miss out on the job?

    i appreciate the legislation might be well-intentioned, but it’s probably an example of the state ruining a good thing for a few keen kids.

    kids grow up on farms and help out day in and day out. they don’t receive any payment for their work, just meals and a bed. they help in the mum and dad’s cornershop and don’t get paid. they hang around the workshop, tag along on sales visits, and learn a few lessons along the way and enter the workforce and adulthood better off than those comforted by well-meaning pressure groups and bureaucrats

    *maybe* a good law, but bad case to take to trial

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