Policy Number: HR201817-1.0 • Version/Last Updated: 1.0 September 2018 • Audience: Public • Commencement: April 2017 (revised 2018)
- 1.0 Rationale
Catholic systemic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney are guided by a fundamental mission to provide a safe and supportive environment for all students entrusted to our care. This policy reflects the legislative responsibilities of Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) and demonstrates a commitment to protect the safety and wellbeing of students, while supporting employees and volunteers working with children and young people in our educational context.
SCS has in place a variety of strategies to ensure child safe schools and offices. This includes ensuring compliance with legal obligations, including the obligation for all employees working in child-related work to hold a valid Working With Children Check clearance (WWCC), and the obligation on the employer to verify those WWCCs.
The WWCC is administered by the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (OoCG). The relevant legislation is the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (CP Act) and the Child Protection (Working with Children) Regulations 2013 (CP Regulations). The main features include the introduction of an online WWCC application process and real time monitoring of all persons who seek to, or do currently, work in child-related work. The CP Act introduced statutory categories (schedule 2) that automatically ‘disqualify’ a person from holding a WWCC, and identified matters (schedule 1) which require the OoCG to conduct a risk assessment of an applicant/holder of a WWCC. The purpose of these provisions is to improve the safety of children.
This policy sets out the process SCS will follow to ensure compliance with its legal obligations and to provide a safe and supportive environment for students and staff.
- 2.0 Guiding Principles
SCS is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its students and staff.
Sydney Catholic schools strive to be places where all students feel safe and protected.
- 3.0 Policy
In assessing an application for a WWCC, the OoCG takes into account an applicant’s full criminal history and certain sustained findings of workplace misconduct involving children.
A WWCC application will result in a:
- clearance to engage in child-related work, or
- bar from engaging in child-related work, or
- closed application where insufficient information is provided or an application is withdrawn.
Persons with a WWCC clearance will be subject to ongoing monitoring by the OoCG of any new relevant records over the five-year period of the clearance.
The OoCG may cancel or revoke a person’s WWCC, or issue an “interim bar” on a person, at any time during the life of the WWCC.
SCS employees, regardless of the work they perform or the location in which it is performed, may have access to records of children enrolled in SCS schools, and may have direct contact, or work face to face, with children in SCS schools. Unless otherwise specified in a contract of employment, all SCS employees are engaged in “child-related work” and it is an essential condition of employment with SCS that an SCS employee obtain and hold a valid WWCC clearance.
It is a condition of accreditation under the Teacher Accreditation Act 2004 (NSW) (as amended) (TA Act) that a teacher holds a valid WWCC.
Where an SCS employee is a teacher, it is an essential condition of employment with SCS that the employee is accredited under the TA Act.
SCS will verify the WWCC of every person that it employs, unless specified in a contract of employment that the person’s role is not child-related work.
Where the result of a verification of an employee’s WWCC indicates that the employee must not engage in child-related work as defined in the CP Act, SCS must not engage that employee, and that employee must not engage, in child-related work.
Where an SCS employee’s WWCC is barred, interim barred, closed or expired, SCS must not engage that employee, and that employee must not engage, in child-related work as defined in the CP Act.
SCS will notify the OoCG and the NSW police of any employee who attempts to engage in child-related work without a valid WWCC clearance or without an application for a WWCC in progress.
Where the OoCG informs an employee of SCS of their intention to conduct a risk assessment on the employee or to impose an “interim bar” on the employee, the employee must immediately inform their Principal or Director.
Where an employee has had their WWCC cancelled or revoked, or is subject to an “interim bar” and subsequently obtains a WWCC, the person may seek reemployment with SCS in line with the process outlined at 4.4.
All employees are responsible for renewing their WWCC before the date it expires and must provide SCS with evidence of the renewal of their WWCC before its expiry date.
- 4.0 Procedures
SCS Process for verification of WWCCs
The WWCC process for all SCS school-based and regional/central office-based employees, contractors and volunteers, is managed centrally by the Human Resources Department at the SCS Central Office.
Where an employee does not hold a WWCC as required
Where SCS becomes aware that an employee either does not hold a valid WWCC or does not have an application for a WWCC in progress, and cannot engage in child-related work, regardless of the reason, it will:
- Notify the employee as soon as practicable that SCS intends to terminate the contract of employment in accordance with the employee’s conditions of employment.
- Invite the employee to provide a response to the intention to terminate their contract of employment.
- Consider any response provided by the employee before determining whether to terminate their contract of employment.
In circumstances where SCS terminates an employee’s contract of employment under this clause, SCS will pay any accrued leave owing to the person and pay in lieu any entitlement to notice.
The Director of HR, at their discretion, may allow an employee who does not hold a valid WWCC, or does not have an application for a WWCC in progress, to take long service leave, annual leave (if available) or leave without pay (if agreed to by the employee), in circumstances where the reason the employee does not have a valid WWCC or application in progress is subject to ongoing court or tribunal proceedings.
Process to seek re-employment where an employee, terminated for failure to hold a WWCC, subsequently obtains a WWCC
Where SCS has terminated an employee’s employment for failure to hold a WWCC pursuant to applicable legislation and this policy, and the person subsequently obtains a WWCC or has an application for WWCC in progress, SCS may permit the person to reapply for a position with SCS, in accordance with the following requirements:
The person obtains the written approval of the Director of Human Resources to lodge an application to work with SCS.
Where the person is applying for a position that requires accreditation pursuant to the TA Act, that the person is accredited.
The person has cooperated fully with any request for information made by SCS into the circumstances surrounding the decision of the OoCG, or the circumstances leading or relevant to the decision.
The person has demonstrated full cooperation with any internal investigation that SCS may undertake, including any investigation required at law pursuant to Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW).
Any investigation undertaken did not result in a sustained finding of a sexual offence, sexual misconduct or serious physical assault involving a child or children, or professional misconduct including towards children.
SCS does not have concerns around the person’s ability to perform the role in a competent and professional manner.
Process and assessment of subsequent application to work for SCS
Where, following consideration of the matters in 4.3, the approval of the Director of Human Resources (HR) is provided, the person’s application to work for SCS will be assessed as follows:
The Director of HR will refer the matter to the SCS Child Protection (CP) Team Leader.
The CP Team Leader will appoint a SCS Child Protection (CP) Officer to review all the material and application.
The CP Officer will undertake a risk assessment in light of all information known to SCS about the person. This may include meeting with the person involved.
The CP Officer will provide a recommendation to the CP Team Leader regarding the person’s application for Registration to Teach or Work based on the risk assessment.
All other aspects of registration will be reviewed by appropriate SCS personnel (including whether the person requires and holds the requisite accreditation to teach, obtaining reference checks where applicable).
The CP Team Leader and the Legal Team Leader will review the recommendation and advise the Director of HR.
The Director of HR will make the final determination on the application.
The Director of HR will communicate the decision to the person in writing.
- 5.0 Bases of Discretion
The Executive Director of SCS and the Director of HR retain all discretion in the determination of the above matters.
- 6.0 Explanatory Notes and Definitions
A person is barred from engaging in child-related work by the OoCG where:
- they are charged with, or convicted of, a disqualifying offence set out in Schedule 2 of the CP Act, or
- the OoCG issues an “interim bar” on the person while it undertakes a risk assessment, or
- the OoCG refuses, revokes or cancels a person’s WWCC.
Child-related work is defined in Part 2 of the CP Regulations and includes work in schools or other educational institutions.
A criminal offence listed in Schedule 2 of the CP Act.
A person convicted of, or against whom proceedings have commenced for, a Disqualifying Offence.
A determination by the OoCG preventing the applicant engaging in child-related work.
NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian. The OoCG administers the WWCC in NSW.
Working with Children Check clearance issued by the NSW OoCG.
- 7.0 Supporting Documents
- 8.0 Appendices
- 9.0 Classification
Policy number: HR201817-1.0
Last modified: September 2018
This policy supersedes all previous policies relating to matters contained therein. In so much as any aspect of this policy may appear to be in conflict with another Archdiocesan system or school-based policy, then precedence is to be given to this policy.
Review by: September 2021
Approved by Leadership Team: 9 March 2017
Review approved by: 27 September 2018
Endorsed by SCS Board:6 April 2017
Approved by Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools: 6 April 2017
Review approved by Executive Director SCS: 28 November 2018
Commencement Date: April 2017 (reviewed 2018)