CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
The safety, protection and well-being of all students is of fundamental importance to International Maarif Schools of Australia. This document is prepared so that it will be made available to all employees at the Gallipoli Campus. It is written with the employees in mind.
All staff and the school have a range of different obligations relating to the safety, protection and welfare of students including:
a duty of care to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to prevent harm to students;
obligations under child protection legislation; and
obligations under work health and safety legislation.
The purpose of this Policy is to summarise the obligations imposed by child protection legislation on the school and on employees, contractors and volunteers at the school and to provide guidelines as to how the school will deal with certain matters.
Child protection is a community responsibility.
Key Staffing Procedures at Maarif Schools of Australia
A staff member’s employment with the School will be conditional upon satisfactorily obtaining and maintaining a valid Working With Children Check Clearance, at all times and any other forms that may be required from time to time for the purpose of fulfilling the School’s obligations under the WWC Act (as amended or replaced from time to time), and any other applicable legislation dealing with child protection. All staff bring their WWCC number with expire date and date of birth details. Admin staff will do the verification the numbers online https://wwccheck.ccyp.nsw.gov.au/Employers/Login and Principal at Maarif will check the verification at the time of employment. The Principal will ensure that this registration will be maintain. New staff cannot commence the employment without checking the verification.
The template provided on the Office of the Children’s Guardian website will be used to maintain records: http://www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au/working-with-children-check/resources
All documentation will be kept in the individual staff files in the Principal office in the locked secure cabinets in the office. All documentations will also kept on the school Sharepoint online folder with limited access to other staff. The Principal monitor compliance with this policy and securely maintains School records relevant to this policy, which includes:
register of staff members who have read and acknowledged that they read and understood this policy;
working with children check clearance (WWCC clearance) verifications;
mandatory reports to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), previously known as Family and Community Services; and
reports of reportable conduct allegations, the outcome of reportable conduct investigations, and/or criminal convictions.
All staff at the School undertake training in Child Protection at the beginning of each school year, to ensure that they are fully aware of their obligations under the current legislation to disclose any incidents of “reportable conduct” and “mandatory reporting” to the Principal. The training will be online or face to face or both. The face-to-face training will be conducted by Principal or Head of Curriculum and there will be catch up sessions if necessary during school terms, for new staff or anyone that start late. Cath up sessions will also be conducted by Principal or Head of Curriculum at Maarif. The training and catch-up sessions will be in Maarif school site in the Principal office. All staff sign the Child Protection Policy by saying that they read and understand the policy in every session and those sign sheets will be kept by Principal in her/his office. Every 2 years AISNSW will give the training to school staff via online or face to face. AISNSW provides the training in Child Protection covers Child Protection Training online – Identifying and Responding to Children and Young People at Risk: Child protection is an important issue for all staff working in schools. In accordance with the NSW Children and Young People (Care and Protection) Act 1998, this course outlines the legislative responsibilities for reporting that staff in schools must comply with. We will discuss the types of abuse and neglect that children and young people are most commonly exposed to, examine possible indicators and review the reporting process for child protection in independent schools. This is a useful catch up for staff who may have missed Child Protection training sessions at school.
NSW Reportable Conduct and Allegations against Employees: This online training module is designed to explain to all school employees what constitutes reportable conduct in NSW and what legislative responsibilities schools have in relation to allegations against employees.
The program draws on current research and provides a range of practical strategies and
tools to assist schools to create a culture of safety. It covers topics such as:
• child-safe organisations
• the NSW child protection legislative context
• understanding sexual abuse
• creating a culture of safety
This training also contains sexual abuse material including video footage of news stories and partial interviews with sexual offenders. This consultancy is offered as a half day program (min 3.5 hours).
At the beginning of each year staff will also be made aware of the Mandatory Reporter Guide on the “Keep them Safe” website http://www.keepthemsafe.nsw.gov.au/resources
All staff will sign a document stating that they have read and understood the Child Protection Policy and Procedures and their obligations to disclose and to act as a mandatory reporter of “reportable conduct” and “mandatory reporting” under the present legislation. They will also sign a document stating they have read and understood the Staff Code of Conduct. These documents will be kept on individual staff files in a secure location in Principal’s office. A central training register will be maintained to include details of the staff training including dates of training, whether it be face-to-face or online. Spread Sheet will be kept by admin staff and checked by Principal after each training session.
Casual teachers employed by the school may attend the Child Protection training at the commencement of the school year or need to attend the catch up sessions that is done by Principal or Head of Curriculum during the school terms in Maarif School site. Casual staff will also sign the Child Protection Policy same like Maarif staff. Signed Policy will be kept by admin staff and checked by Principal after each training session.
Teachers, including Casual Teachers who join the school during the school year will be required to undertake the 4 hour AIS online Child Protection training “Obligations in Identifying and Responding to Children and Young People at Risk”. If it is not possible to do this prior to working at the school with children then a briefing session will be conducted with the Principal or Head of Curriculum during which the Child Protection Policies and Procedures are read and signed off as being understood.
There are four key pieces of child protection legislation in New South Wales:
the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (“Care and Protection Act”);
the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (“WWC Act”);
the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (“Children’s Guardian Act”)
the Crimes Act 1900 (“Crimes Act”).
We deal with each below.
Your obligations to report
While we set out below circumstances in which the legislation requires reporting of particular child protection issues, the School requires you (staff, contractors, parents and volunteers) to report any concern you may have about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person to the Principal.
If the allegation involves the Principal, you are required to report to the Chair of the School Board.
This obligation is part of the School's overall commitment to the safety, welfare and well-being of children.
Please note that there are a number of other School policies that relate to child protection which you need to be aware of and understand including (but not limited to):
the Code of Conduct which sets out information about the standards of behaviour expected of all employees, contractors and volunteers of the School;
the Work Health and Safety Statement which summarises the obligations imposed by work health and safety legislation on the school and workers; and
Bullying and Harassment-Staff which summarises your obligations in relation to unlawful harassment and bullying; and
The Anti-Bullying Policy and Behaviour Management guidelines in the Discipline Policy
Grievance Policy and Procedures
PART A: Children and Young Persons (The Care and Protection) Act 1998
The Care and Protection Act provides for mandatory reporting of children at risk of significant harm.
A child is a person under the age of 16 years and a young person is aged 16 years or above but who is under the age of 18, for the purposes of the Care and Protection Act.
NOTE: Any concern regarding the safety, welfare or well-being of a student must be reported to the Principal.
1.1 Who is a mandatory reporter?
Under the Care and Protection Act persons who:
in the course of their employment, deliver services including health care; welfare, education, children's services and residential services, to children; or
hold a management position in an organisation, the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of services including health care, welfare, education, children's services and residential services, to children, are mandatory reporters.
All teachers are mandatory reporters. Other School employees may also be mandatory reporters. If you are not sure whether you are a mandatory reporter, you should speak to the Principal.
The Mandatory Reporter Guide on the “Keep them Safe” website should be used by staff working as a resource to guide their decision making and determine whether or not to report to the Children Protection Helpline. http://www.keepthemsafe.nsw.gov.au/resources
1.2 When must a report be made Communities and Justice Services?
1.2.1 What is the threshold?
A mandatory reporter must, where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child (under 16 years of age) is at risk of significant harm, report to Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) as soon as practicable, the name, or a description, of the child and the grounds for suspecting that the child is at risk of significant harm.
In addition, while not mandatory, the School considers that a report should also be made to Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a young person (16 or 17 years of age) is at risk of significant harm and there are current concerns about the safety, welfare and well-being of the young person.
In the independent school sector, a mandatory reporter will meet their obligation if they report to the Principal in the School. This centralised reporting model ensures that a person in the School has all of the information that may be relevant to the circumstances of the child at risk of significant harm and addresses the risk of the School not being aware of individual incidences that amount to cumulative harm.
1.2.2 Reasonable grounds
'Reasonable grounds' refers to the need to have an objective basis for suspecting that a child or young person may be at risk of significant harm, based on:
first hand observations of the child, young person or family
what the child, young person, parent or another person has disclosed
what can reasonably be inferred based on professional training and / or experience.
'Reasonable grounds' does not mean that you are required to confirm your suspicions or have clear proof before making a report.
1.2.3 Significant harm
A child or young person is 'at risk of significant harm' if current concerns exist for the safety, welfare or well-being of the child or young person because of the presence, to a significant extent, of any one or more of the following circumstances:
the child’s or young person’s basic physical or psychological needs are not being met or are at risk of not being met,
the parents or other caregivers have not arranged and are unable or unwilling to arrange for the child or young person to receive necessary medical care,
in the case of a child or young person who is required to attend school in accordance with the Education Act 1990 —the parents or other caregivers have not arranged and are unable or unwilling to arrange for the child or young person to receive an education in accordance with that Act,
the child or young person has been, or is at risk of being, physically or sexually abused or ill-treated,
the child or young person is living in a household where there have been incidents of domestic violence and, as a consequence, the child or young person is at risk of serious physical or psychological harm,
a parent or other caregiver has behaved in such a way towards the child or young person that the child or young person has suffered or is at risk of suffering serious psychological harm,
the child was the subject of a pre-natal report under section 25 of the Care and Protection Act and the birth mother of the child did not engage successfully with support services to eliminate, or minimise to the lowest level reasonably practical, the risk factors that gave rise to the report.
The significance can result from a single act or omission or an accumulation of these.
1.2.4 Other relevant definitions
Policy definition of significant harm
A child or young person is at risk of significant harm if the circumstances that are causing concern for the safety, welfare or well-being of the child or young person are present to a significant extent.
What is meant by 'significant' in the phrase 'to a significant extent' is that which is sufficiently serious to warrant a response by a statutory authority irrespective of a family's consent.
What is significant is not minor or trivial, and may reasonably be expected to produce a substantial and demonstrably adverse impact on the child or young person's safety, welfare or well-being.
In the case of an unborn child, what is significant is not minor or trivial, and may reasonably be expected to produce a substantial and demonstrably adverse impact on the child after the child's birth.
The significance can result from a single act or omission or an accumulation of these.
Child is a person under the age of 16 years for the purposes of the Care and Protection Act.
Child abuse and neglect
There are different forms of child abuse. These include neglect, sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
Neglect is the continued failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child with the basic things needed for his or her proper growth and development, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical and dental care and adequate supervision.
Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury or pattern of injuries to a child caused by a parent, caregiver or any other person. It includes but is not limited to injuries which are caused by excessive discipline, severe beatings or shakings, cigarette burns, attempted strangulation and female genital mutilation. Injuries include bruising, lacerations or welts, burns, fractures or dislocation of joints. Hitting a child around the head or neck and/or using a stick, belt or other object to discipline or punishing a child (in a non-trivial way) is a crime.
Serious psychological harm can occur where the behaviour of their parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self-esteem of the child or young person, resulting in serious emotional deprivation or trauma. Although it is possible for ‘one-off’ incidents to cause serious harm, in general it is the frequency, persistence and duration of the parental or carer behaviour that is instrumental in defining the consequences for the child. This can include a range of behaviours such as excessive criticism, withholding affection, exposure to domestic violence, intimidation or threatening behaviour.
Sexual abuse is when someone involves a child or young person in a sexual activity by using their power over them or taking advantage of their trust. Often children are bribed or threatened physically and psychologically to make them participate in the activity. Child sexual abuse is a crime.
Child wellbeing concerns are safety, welfare or wellbeing concerns for a child or young person that do not meet the mandatory reporting threshold, risk of significant harm.
Young person means a person who is aged 16 years or above but who is under the age of 18 years for the purposes of the Care and Protection Act.
1.3 What should you do if you consider that a mandatory report is required?
Reporting by the school about these matters to Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and, where necessary, the police, is generally undertaken by the Principal. This is in accordance with best practice principles and is the expectation of the School.
If you have a concern that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm you should contact the Principal as soon as possible to discuss whether the case reaches the threshold of 'risk of significant harm' and the steps required to report the matter.
However, if there is an immediate danger to the child or young person and the Principal or next most senior member of staff is not contactable you should speak to the Police and/or the Child Protection Helpline (13 12 11) directly and then advise the Principal or next most senior member of staff at the school as soon as possible.
You are not required to, and must not, undertake any investigation of the matter yourself. The Principal may delegate and arrange training for a suitable person at the School to be an Accredited Child Protection Investigator.
You are not to inform the parents or caregivers that a report to the DCJ has been made.
You are required to deal with the matter confidentially and only disclose it to the persons referred to above or as required to comply with your mandatory reporting obligations. Failure to maintain confidentiality will not only be a breach of this policy, but could expose you to potential civil proceedings for defamation.
In general, the Principal will report these matters to the DCJ and where necessary, the Police. This is supported by the DCJ in accordance with best practice principles.
1.4 What should you do if you have a concern that is below the mandatory reporting threshold?
While the Care and Protection Act outlines a mandatory reporter’s obligation to report to the DCJ, as an employee of this School, any concern regarding the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a student must be reported to the Principal.
You are required to deal with all reports regarding the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a student with confidentially and only disclose it to the Principal and any other person the Principal nominates.
Failure to do so will be a breach of this policy.
2. PART B: Reportable Conduct
What is reportable conduct?
Section 29 of the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 requires the Heads of Entities, including non-government schools in New South Wales, to notify the OCG of all allegations of reportable conduct and convictions involving an 'employee' and the outcome of the School's investigation of these allegations. Under the Children’s Guardian Act 2019, allegations of child abuse only fall within the reportable conduct jurisdiction if the involved individual is an employee of the relevant entity at the time when the allegation becomes known by the Head of Entity.
• involves a child (a person under the age of 18 years) at the time of the alleged incident; and
• involves certain defined conduct as described in the Act (see below).
• must keep under scrutiny the systems for preventing reportable conduct by employees of non-government schools and the handling of, or response to, reportable allegations (including allegations which are exempt from notification) or convictions;
• must receive and assess notifications from non-government schools concerning reportable conduct or reportable convictions;
• is required to oversee or monitor the conduct of investigations by non-government schools into allegations of reportable conduct or reportable convictions;
• must determine whether an investigation that has been monitored has been conducted properly and whether appropriate action has been taken as a result of the investigation;
• may directly investigate an allegation of reportable conduct or reportable conviction against an employee of a non-government school, or the handling of or response to such a matter (eg arising out of complaints by the person who is the subject of an allegation); and
• may investigate the way in which a relevant entity has dealt with, or is dealing with, a report, complaint or notification, if the OCG considers it appropriate to do so.
2.1 Definition of reportable conduct
Under the Children’s Guardian Act 2019, reportable conduct is defined as:
• a sexual offence;
• sexual misconduct;
• an assault against a child;
• ill-treatment of a child;
• neglect of a child;
• an offence under section 43B (failure to protect) or section 316A (failure to report) of the Crimes Act 1900; and
• behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child.
Reportable conduct does not extend to:
• conduct that is reasonable for the purposes of the discipline, management or care of children, having regard to the age, maturity, health or other characteristics of the children and to any relevant codes of conduct or professional standards; or
• the use of physical force that, in all the circumstances, is trivial or negligible and the circumstances in which it was used have been investigated and the result of the investigation has been recorded in accordance with appropriate procedures; or
• conduct of a class or kind exempted from being reportable conduct by the Children’s Guardian Act under section 30.
2.1.1 Other relevant definitions
Set out below are definitions of the various terms referred to above in relation to reportable conduct.
Behaviour that causes emotional or psychological harm to a child is behaviour that is obviously or very clearly unreasonable and results in significant harm or trauma to a child. There needs to be a proven causal link between the inappropriate behaviour and the harm, and the harm must be more than transient.
For a reportable allegation involving psychological harm, the following elements must be present:
- An obviously or very clearly unreasonable or serious act or series of acts that the employees knew or ought to have known was unacceptable, and
- Evidence of psychological harm to the child that is more than transient, including displaying patterns of ‘out of character behaviour’, regression in behaviour, distress, anxiety, physical symptoms or self-harm, and
- An alleged causal link between the employee’s conduct and the significant emotional or psychological harm to the child.
Ill-treatment captures those circumstances where a person treats a child in an unreasonable and seriously inappropriate, improper, inhumane or cruel manner. The focus is on the alleged conduct rather than the actual effect of the conduct on the child.
Ill-treatment can include disciplining or correcting a child in an obviously unreasonable and seriously inappropriate manner; making excessive and/or degrading demands on a child; hostile use of force towards a child; and/or pattern of hostile or unreasonable and seriously inappropriate, degrading comments or behaviour towards a child.
Neglect includes either an action or inaction by a person who has care responsibility towards a child. The nature of the employee’s responsibilities provides the context against which the conduct needs to be assessed.
An intentional or reckless failure to adequately supervise a child that results in the death of, or significant harm to, a child, or
An intentional or reckless failure to adequate supervise a child or a significantly careless act or failure to act, that:
Involves a gross breach of professional standards, and
Has the potential to result in the death or significant harm to a child.
Grossly inadequate care that involves depriving a child of the basic necessities of life: such as the provision of food and drink, clothing, critical medical care or treatment, or shelter.
Failure to protect from abuse:
An obviously or very clearly unreasonable failure to respond to information strongly indicating actual or potential serious abuse of a child.
Reckless act (or failure to act):
A reckless act, or failure to act, that:
Involves a gross breach of professional standards, and
Has the potential to result in the death of, or significant harm to, a child.
Physical Assault is any act by which a person intentionally inflicts unjustified use of physical force against another. An assault can also occur if a person causes another person to reasonably apprehend that unjustified force is going to be used against them. Even if a person who inflicts physical harm or causes another person to reasonably apprehend physical harm does not actually intend to inflict the harm or cause fear, they may still have committed an assault if they acted 'recklessly'.
'Recklessness' in this context relates to circumstances when the person ought to have known that their actions would cause a person physical harm or cause them to fear injury.
Assaults can include hitting, pushing, shoving, throwing objects, or dragging a child (actual physical force); or making threats to physically harm a child.
PSOA ‘person subject to the allegation’.
Reportable conviction means a conviction (including a finding of guilt without the court proceeding to a conviction), in NSW or elsewhere, of an offence involving reportable conduct.
Sexual Misconduct conduct with, towards or in the presence of a child that is sexual in nature (but not a sexual offence). The Act provides the following (non-exhaustive) examples:
descriptions of sexual acts without a legitimate reason to provide the descriptions;
sexual comments, conversations or communications;
comments to a child that express a desire to act in a sexual manner towards the child, or another child.
Note – crossing professional boundaries comes within the scope of the scheme to the extent that the alleged conduct meets the definition of sexual misconduct. That is, the conduct with, towards or in the presence of a child that is sexual in nature (but is not a sexual offence).
Sexually explicit comments and other overtly sexual behaviour
Behaviour involving sexually explicit comments and other overtly sexual behaviour which can constitute sexual misconduct. Some forms of this behaviour also involve crossing professional boundaries. This conduct may include:
inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature
comments that express a desire to act in a sexual manner
unwarranted and inappropriate touching
personal correspondence (including electronic communications such as e-mails and text messages) with a child or young person in relation to the adult's sexual feelings for a child or young person
exposure of children and young people to sexual behaviour of others including display of pornography
watching children undress. For example, in change rooms or toilets when supervision is not required or justified.
Sexual Offences is an offence of a sexual nature under a law of the State, another State, a Territory, or the Commonwealth, committed against, with or in the presence of a child, such as (but are not limited to) the following:
(a) indecent assault
(b) sexual assault
(c) aggravated sexual assault
(d) sexual intercourse and attempted sexual intercourse
(e) possession/ dissemination/ production of child pornography or child abuse
(f) using children to produce pornography
(g) grooming or procuring children under the age of 16 years for unlawful sexual
(h) deemed non-consensual sexual activity on the basis of special care relationships.
Definitions of ‘grooming’, within child protection legislation, are complex. Under the Crimes Act, grooming or procuring a child under the age of 16 years for unlawful sexual activity is classed as a sexual offence. The Crimes Act (s73) also extends the age of consent to 18 years when a child is in a ‘special care’ relationship. Under Schedule 1(2) of the WWC Act, grooming is recognised as a form of sexual misconduct. The Children’s Guardian Act 2019 and this Child Protection Policy reflect these definitions within the context of the Reportable Conduct Scheme (Division 2).
An alleged sexual offence does not have to be the subject of criminal investigation or charges for it to be catagorised as a reportable allegation of sexual offence. encompasses all criminal offences involving a sexual element that are 'committed against, with or in the presence of a child'.
Reportable allegation is an allegation that an employee has engaged in conduct that may be reportable conduct.
2.2 Process for reporting of reportable conduct allegations or convictions
2.2.1 Your obligations to report: Staff Member
You must report any concerns you may have about any other employee engaging in reportable conduct or any allegation of 'reportable conduct' that has been made to you, to the Principal, including information about yourself. If you are not sure whether the conduct is reportable conduct but consider that it is inappropriate behaviour you must still report it.
You must also report to the Principal if you become aware that an employee has been charged with or convicted of an offence (including a finding of guilt without the court proceeding to a conviction) involving reportable conduct. This includes information relating to yourself.
At the School the Principal encourages immediate reporting in person or if this is not possible then employees should request a meeting via the admin as soon as possible. The Principal may be contacted by phone at school on (1800 622 743 or 02 8316 0651) or by mobile phone on (0416 684 953).
If the allegation involves the Principal, you are required to report to the Chair of the School Board (email@example.com)
2.2.2 Parents, carers and community members
The Principal or is the contact point for parents if they wish to report an allegation of reportable conduct against an employee.
School stakeholder in particular parents and care givers are entitled to raise concern complaints. They are able to access the school the school’ s complaints handling procedures regarding allegations of staff misconduct or reportable conduct. The principles are on school website that can be accessed by parents and carers. Maarif has Grievance Policy for clear set procedures.
At the School the Principal encourages immediate reporting in person or if this is not possible then parents should request a meeting via the receptionist as soon as possible. The Principal may be contacted by phone at school on (1800 622 743 or 02 8316 0651) or by mobile phone on (0416 684 953).
2.2.3 The School
The Principal, as the Head of Entity under the Children’s Guardian Act 2019, must:
• Ensure specified systems are in place for preventing, detecting and responding to reportable allegations or convictions
• Submit a 7-day notification form to the OCG within 7 business days of becoming aware of a reportable allegation or conviction against an employee of the entity (unless the Head of the Entity has a reasonable excuse),
The notification should include the following information:
(a) that a report has been received in relation to an employee of the School, and
(b) the type of reportable conduct, and
(c) the name of the employee, and
(d) the name and contact details of School and the Head of Entity, and
(e) for a reportable allegation, whether it has been reported to Police, and
(f) if a report has been made to the Child Protection Helpline, that a report has been made, and
(g) the nature of the relevant entity’s initial risk assessment and risk management action,
• The notice must also include the following, if known to the Head of Entity:
(a) details of the reportable allegation or conviction considered to be a reportable conviction,
(b) the date of birth and working with children number, if any, of the employee the subject of the report,
(c) the police report reference number (if Police were notified),
(d) the report reference number if reported to the Child Protection Helpline,
(e) the names of other relevant entities that employ or engage the employee, whether or not directly, to provide a service to children, including as a volunteer or contractor.
(f) provide an initial letter to the ESOA advising that an allegation of reportable conduct has been made against them and the School’s responsibility to investigate this matter under Section 34 of the Children’s Guardian Act 2019; and
• Maximum penalty for failure to notify within 7 business days —10 penalty units.
2.3 What happens when an allegation of reportable conduct is made?
2.3.1 Initial steps
Once an allegation of reportable conduct against an employee is received, the Principal is required to:
(a) determine on face value whether it is an allegation of reportable conduct;
(b) assess whether the DCJ or the Police need to be notified (ie, if
reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm or criminal
(c) notify the child's parents (unless to do so would be likely to compromise the
investigation or any investigation by DCJ or the Police);
(d) notify the OCG within 7 business days of receiving the allegation;
(e) carry out a risk assessment and take action to reduce/remove risk, where
(f) investigate the allegation or appoint someone to investigate the allegation.
2.3.2 Investigation principles
The School will:
(a) be mindful of the principles of procedural fairness;
(b) inform the person subject of the allegation (PSOA) of the substance of any
allegations made against them and provide them with a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations;
(c) make reasonable enquiries or investigations before making a decision;
(d) avoid conflicts of interest;
(e) conduct the investigation without unjustifiable delay;
(f) handle the matter as confidentially as possible; and
(g) provide appropriate support for all parties including the child/children, witnesses
and the PSOA.
2.3.3 Investigation steps
In an investigation the Principal or appointed investigator will generally:
(a) interview relevant witnesses and gather relevant documentation;
(b) provide a letter of allegation to the PSOA;
(c) interview the PSOA;
(d) consider relevant evidence and make a preliminary finding in accordance with the
(e) inform the PSOA of the preliminary finding and provide them with an opportunity to respond;
(f) consider any response provided by the PSOA;
(g) make a final finding in accordance with the OCG Guidelines;
(h) decide on the disciplinary action, if any, to be taken against the PSOA;
(i) apply the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) Guidelines and decide if
the matter is reportable to the OCG; and
(j) send the final report to the OCG within 30 days after having received the allegation, as per section 36 of the Children’s Guardian Act 2019.
(k) should the final report be unfinished within 30 days, the Head of Entity must provide, at minimum, an interim report to the OCG within 30 days of having received the allegation, as per section 38 of the Children’s Guardian Act 2019.
Submission of an interim report must include;
a reason for not providing the final report within 30 days and an estimated time frame for completion of the report.
specific information, including (if known); the facts and circumstances of the reportable allegation; any known information about a reportable conviction; action taken since the OCG received a notification about the reportable allegation or reportable conviction; further action the Head of Entity proposes to take in relation to the reportable allegation or reportable conviction; including if the Head of Entity proposes to take no further action; the reasons for the action taken and the action proposed to be taken or the reasons for the decision to take no further action; other information prescribed by the regulations; and
be accompanied by copies of documents in the School's possession, including transcripts of interviews and copies of evidence.
The steps outlined above may need to be varied on occasion to meet particular circumstances. For example, it may be necessary to take different steps where the matter is also being investigated by the DCJ or the NSW Police.
A PSOA may have an appropriate support person with them during the interview process. Such a person is there for support only and as a witness to the proceedings and not as an advocate or to take an active role.
2.4 Risk management
Risk management means identifying the potential for an incident or accident to occur and taking steps to reduce the likelihood or severity of its occurrence.
The Principal is responsible for risk management throughout the investigation and will assess risk at the beginning of the investigation, during and at the end of the investigation.
2.4.1 Initial risk assessment
One of the first steps following an allegation of reportable conduct against an employee is for The Principal conduct a risk assessment. The purpose of this initial risk assessment is to identify and minimise the risks to:
(a) the child(ren) who are the subject of the allegation;
(b) other children with whom the employee may have contact;
(c) the PSOA;
(d) the School, and
(e) the proper investigation of the allegation.
The factors which will be considered during the risk assessment include:
(a) the nature and seriousness of the allegations;
(b) the vulnerability of the child(ren) the PSOA has contact with at work;
(c) the nature of the position occupied by the PSOA;
(d) the level of supervision of the PSOA; and
(e) the disciplinary history or safety of the PSOA and possible risks to the investigation.
The Principal will take appropriate action to minimise risks. This may include the PSOA being temporarily relieved of some duties, being required not to have contact with certain students, or being suspended from duty. When taking action to address any risks identified, the School will take into consideration both the needs of the child(ren) and the PSOA.
A decision to take action on the basis of a risk assessment is not indicative of the findings of the matter. Until the investigation is completed and a finding is made, any action, such as an employee being suspended, is not to be considered to be an indication that the alleged conduct by the employee did occur.
2.4.2 Ongoing Risk Management
The Principal will continually monitor risk during the investigation including in the light of any new relevant information that emerges.
2.4.3 Risk Management at the Conclusion of the Investigation
At the completion of the investigation, a finding will be made in relation to the allegation and a decision made by the Principal regarding what action, if any, is required in relation to the PSOA, the child(ren) involved and any other parties.
2.5 What information will be provided to the PSOA?
The PSOA will be advised:
(a) that an allegation has been made against them (at the appropriate time in the investigation); and
(b) of the substance of the allegation, or of any preliminary finding and the final finding.
The PSOA does not automatically have the right to:
(a) know or have confirmed the identity of the person who made the allegation; or
(b) be shown the content of the OCG notification form or other investigation material that reveals all information provided by other employees or witnesses.
The WWC Act enables a person who has a finding referred to the OCG under the Act to request access to the records held by the School in relation to the finding of misconduct involving children (see Part C section 3). The entitlements of a person to request access to information in terms of section 46 of the WWC Act is enlivened when a finding of misconduct involving children has been made.
2.6 Disciplinary Action
As a result of the allegations, investigation or final findings, the School may take disciplinary action against the PSOA (including termination of employment).
In relation to any disciplinary action the School will:
(a) give the PSOA details of the proposed disciplinary action; and
(b) give the PSOA a reasonable opportunity to respond before a final decision is made.
It is important when dealing with allegations of reportable conduct that the matter be dealt with as confidentially as possible.
The School requires that all parties maintain confidentiality during the investigation including in relation to the handling and storing of documents and records.
Records about allegations of reportable conduct against employees will be kept securely [electronically in a Secure File] and will be accessible by the Head of Entity or with the Head of Entity's express authority.
No employee may comment to the media about an allegation of reportable conduct unless expressly authorised by the Principal to do so.
If you become aware of a breach of confidentiality in relation to a reportable conduct allegation you must advise the Principal.
3. PART C: WWC Act
The WWC Act protects children by requiring a worker to have a WWCC clearance or current application to engage in child related work. Failure to do so may result in a fine or imprisonment.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) is responsible for employment screening for child related employment. A Working With Children Check (Check) is a prerequisite for anyone in child-related work. It involves a national criminal history check and review of reported workplace misconduct findings. The result of a Check is either a clearance to work with children for five years, or a bar against working with children. Cleared applicants are subject to ongoing monitoring by the OCG, and any relevant new records which appear against a cleared applicant's name may lead to the Check being revoked.
It is the responsibility of the child-related worker to ensure that when they are eligible to apply for a Check or when their Check is up for renewal that they do so.
If you are an existing employee, employed at this school in paid child-related work prior to the commencement of the new Working With Children system, or you are a volunteer, your requirement to obtain a Check will be phased in over a five year period, according to the phase in schedule developed by the OCG, the schedule is available at http://www.kids.nsw.gov.au/
The object of the WWC Act is to protect children:
(a) by not permitting certain persons to engage in child-related work; and
(b) by requiring persons engaged in child-related work to have working with children
Schools are required to:
(a) verify online and record the status of each child-related worker’s Check;
(b) only employ or engage child-related workers or eligible volunteers who have a valid Check; and
(c) report findings of misconduct involving children made against child-related workers
Child-related workers and eligible volunteers are required to:
hold and maintain a valid Check;
not engage in child-related work at any time that they are subjected to an interim bar or a bar; and
report to the Principal if they are no longer eligible for a Check, the status of their Check changes or are notified by the OCG that they are subjected to a risk assessment.
notify the OCG of any change to their personal details within 3 months of the change occurring. Failure to do so may result in a fine.
All volunteers are required to:
sign the Volunteer Statutory Declaration. Some volunteers engaged in high risk roles maybe required to have a Check;
to be aware and follow the expectations of conduct expressed in the School Staff Code of Conduct.
3.3 Relevant Definitions
This bar is applied based on a decision made by the OCG, following a risk assessment. This person is barred against working with children.
An interim bar is issued to high risk individuals to prevent them from continuing to work with children while a risk assessment is conducted. An interim bar may be applied for up to 12 months. If an interim bar remains in place for six months or longer, it may be appealed against through the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
Not everyone who is subject to a risk assessment will receive an interim bar; only those representing a serious and immediate risk to children.
Interim bars are issued only for risks considered likely to result in a final bar.
3.3.2 Child-related work
Child-related work includes, but not limited to work in the following sectors:
early education and child care including education and care service, child care centres and other child care;
education schools and other educational institutions and private coaching or tuition of children;
residential services including boarding schools, homestays more than three weeks, residential services and overnight camps; or
counselling, mentoring or distance education not involving direct contact;
transport services for children including school bus services, taxi services for children with disability and supervision of school road crossings.
Any queries about whether roles/duties engage in child-related work should be directed to the Principal.
3.3.3 Child-related worker
A person who has physical contact or face to face contact with children in work outlined above in 3.2, including schools. This may include volunteer work.
A child-related worker may commence work once they have completed the Check application process. An application is completed when the online application form is complete and the worker’s identity has been proven at the NSW motor registry or Council Agency and the fee has been paid (if in paid work).
If you are unclear if your role is child-related, you should speak with the Principal.
3.3.4 Disqualified person
A disqualified person is a person who has been convicted, or against whom proceedings have been commenced for a disqualifying offence outlined in Schedule 2 of WWC Act.
A disqualified person is a person who has a bar preventing them from working with children in child-related work.
It is an offence for an employer to knowingly engage a child-related worker when they do not hold a Check or who has a bar or an interim bar.
It is an offence for an employee to engage in child-related worker when they do not hold a Check or has a bar or an interim bar.
3.3.5 Findings of misconduct involving children
The school will report to the OCG when a finding has been made that the person (an employee of the school) subject to the finding engaged in:
sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child, including grooming of a child; or
any serious physical assault of a child.
The School will advise the person that the OCG has been notified of a finding of misconduct involving children.
The WWC Act enables a person who has a finding referred to the OCG under the Act to request access to the records held by the School in relation to the finding of misconduct involving children.
3.3.6 Reporting body
Independent Schools which are members of the AISNSW are defined as a reporting body by the WWC Act.
The School is required to advise the OCG of the findings they have made after completing a reportable conduct investigation, including whether they have made a finding of reportable conduct. A finding of reportable conduct in relation to sexual misconduct, a sexual offence or a serious physical assault, must be referred to the OCG's WWCC Directorate. Information must also be referred internally to the OCG's WWCC Directorate if it meets the threshold for consideration of an interim WWCC bar, as per Section 17 of the WWC Act, pending a formal risk assessment.
The School may also be obliged to report, amend or provide additional information to the OCG as outlined in the WWC Act and the Children’s Guardian Act.
Risk assessment is an evaluation of an individual’s suitability for child-related work.
The OCG will conduct a risk assessment on a person’s suitability to work with children when a new record is receive which triggers a risk assessment. This may include an offence under Schedule 1, pattern of behaviour or offences involving violence of sexual misconduct representing a risk to children, findings of misconduct involving children.
3.3.7 Working with Children Check Clearance
A Working with Children Check (Check) means authorisation under the WWC Act to engage in child-related work. An employee will be issued with a number which is to be provided to the School with the employee’s date of birth to verify the status of an employee’s Check.
3.3.8 Application/ Renewal
An application or renewal can be made through Service NSW or its replacement agency. The process for applying for and renewing a WWCC clearance with the OCG involves a national police check and a review of findings of misconduct. If the OCG grants or renews a WWCC clearance, the holder will be issued with a number which is to be provided to the School to verify the status of a staff member’s WWCC clearance.
The OCG can refuse to grant a WWCC clearance or cancel a WWCC clearance. The person is then restricted from engaging in child-related work and not able to apply for another clearance for five years. Employers are notified by the OGC and instructed to remove such persons from child-related work.
4. CRIMINAL OFFENCES
In 2018 the Crimes Act was amended to adopt recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The new offences are designed to prevent child abuse and to bring abuse that has already occurred to the attention of the Police.
4.1 Failure to protect offence (Crimes Act 1900 – NSW)
An adult working in a school, therefore all staff members, will commit an offence if they know another adult working there poses as serious risk of committing a child abuse offence and they have the power to reduce or remove the risk, and they negligently fail to do so either by acts and/or omissions.
This offence is targeted at those in positions of authority and responsibility working with children who turn a blind eye to a known and serious risk rather than using their power to protect children.
4.2 Failure to report offence (Crimes Act 1900 – NSW)
Any adult, and therefore all staff members, will commit an offence if they know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child abuse offence has been committed and fail to report that information to Police, without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse would include where the adult has reported the matter to the Principal and is aware that the Principal has reported the matter to the Police.
4.3 Special Care Relationships (Crimes Act 1900 – NSW)
It is a crime in NSW for a staff member, volunteer or contractor to have a sexual relationship with a student where there is a special care relationship. The Act provides that a young person is under an adult’s special care if the adult is a member of the teaching staff of the School at which the young person is a student; or has an established personal relationship with the young person in connection with the provision of religious, sporting, musical or other instruction.
The Special Care (sexual intercourse) offence under s73 was supplemented by an additional special care offence involving sexual touching now under s73A of the Crimes Act. The new offence under s73A will expand special care offences to also apply to non-penetrative sexual touching. The offence will protect children aged 16-17 years from inappropriate sexual contact with teachers and others who have special care of the child.
NSW Department of Communities and Justice
The Office of the Children’s Guardian
Department of Premier and Cabinet – Keep Them Safe
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY AND PROCEDURES
INTERNATIONAL MAARIF SCHOOLS OF AUSTRALIA
I _______________________________ have read, understood and agree to comply with the terms of this Child Protection Policy and Procedures.
This acknowledgement will be placed on file for the employee, contractor, casual or volunteer.