Policy Number: HR201702-1.0 • Version/Last Updated: 1.0 March 2017 • Audience: Public • Commencement: April 2017
- 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 Check) 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
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.
Where a SCS employee is in a contract for child-related work, it is an essential term of that contract that the employee holds a WWCC.
Where a SCS employee is a teacher, it is an essential term of the employment contract that the employee holds the requisite accreditation pursuant to the Teachers Accreditation Act 2004 (NSW) (as amended) (TA Act). It is a condition of accreditation that the person holds a valid WWCC.
SCS will verify the WWCC of every person that it employs to engage in child-related work.
Where a SCS employee has their WWCC cancelled or revoked they cannot engage in child-related work.
Where a SCS employee is the subject of an “interim bar” they cannot engage in child-related work.
SCS will not commence or continue to employ any person in child-related work where they do not hold a valid WWCC, or where they are subject to an “interim bar”.
SCS will notify the OoCG and the NSW police of any employee who attempts to engage in child-related work without a valid WWCC.
Where an employee is advised by the OoCG of their intention to conduct a risk assessment on the person or to impose an “interim bar” on the person, they 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 4.3.
- 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 is ‘barred’ from engaging in child-related work, it will immediately act as follows:
- Assess the person’s current position with SCS. Where the person is employed in child-related work, SCS will terminate the contract of employment consistent with its obligations under the legislation.
- SCS will not approve any application by the employee to take Leave Without Pay.
- SCS will pay any accrued leave owing to the person.
- After termination, SCS will consider whether, in the circumstances of the particular case, it can offer the person a new contract of employment that is not for child-related work.
Where the person is not employed in child-related work, it will refer the matter to the SCS Child Protection team and/or Employment Services team for a risk assessment.
Process for the consideration of a new contract of employment
SCS will undertake consideration as outlined in 4.2.1(d) with reference to the following factors:
- The current availability of a position that does not at law or otherwise require the person to have a WWCC (including for any accreditation purposes).
- The suitability of the person’s qualifications, skills and experience for the position.
- The degree to which the person has cooperated with SCS by providing information about the decision of the OoCG, or the circumstances leading or relevant to the decision.
- Whether the person is willing and able at that time, to enter into a new contract of employment on the applicable new terms and conditions.
After reviewing the above factors, SCS may offer the person employment in a different position. In those circumstances it will make a written offer to the person and issue a new contract of employment.
Process to seek re-employment where an employee, terminated for failure to hold a WWCC, subsequently obtains a WWCC
Where SCS has terminated a person’s employment for failure to hold a WWCC pursuant to the legislation and this policy, and the person subsequently obtains a WWCC, SCS may permit the person to reapply for Registration to Teach or Work, in accordance with the following requirements:
The person obtains the written approval of the Director of Human Resources to lodge an application for Registration to Teach or Work with SCS.
Where the person is applying for a position that requires accreditation pursuant to the TA Act, that the person holds the requisite accreditation.
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 for Registration to Teach or Work
Where, following consideration of the matters in 4.3, the approval of the Director of Human Resources (HR) is provided, the person’s application for Registration to Teach or Work 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 Officer to review all the material and application.
The Child Protection (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.
Work in schools or other educational institutions is child-related work (Clause 10 of the CP Regulations).
A criminal offence listed in Schedule 2 of the CP Act.
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: HR201702-1.0
Last modified: March 2017
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: June 2018
Approved by Leadership Team: 9 March 2017
Endorsed by SACS Board:6 April 2017
Approved by Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools: TBA
Commencement Date: TBA