A child is a person under the age of 18 years. With respect to matters notifiable to FACS, a child is defined as a person under 16 years.
Young Person: a person is aged 16 or 17 years.
An employee is defined as any person who is engaged by the Archdiocese of Sydney Catholic systemic schools, whether or not they are employed in connection with work or activities that relate to children in a paid or volunteer capacity; as well as any person engaged by SCS to provide services to children and young people. This includes: contracted staff, such as special transport drivers, cleaners and maintenance contractors; sub-contracted staff, such as canteen managers; trainees, such as those on student placement or work experience; clergy visiting schools; and volunteers, such as parent helpers. Any reference to employee in this policy encompasses all categories outlined above.
Civil Standard of Proof
The matter is considered sustained if the investigator is satisfied that the case has been proved on the balance of probabilities.
For matters that require reporting to the NSW Ombudsman Office, the final report comprises a copy of the investigation file. The file is forwarded to the Ombudsman, who has oversight of the agency’s process. The Ombudsman will review the file and advise SCS whether or not it is satisfied with the process prior to closing the matter. SCS will inform the employee when the Ombudsman closes its file.
Findings are made on each complaint at the conclusion of the process. The NSW Ombudsman and Office of Children’s Guardian Guidelines provide headings for findings of investigations within its jurisdiction and SCS relies upon these (see relevant fact sheet for details). Matters not in that jurisdiction rely on commonly used industry-relevant terminology.
Findings of matters managed at school level are determined by the Principal in consultation with SCS staff. Findings of matters managed by SCS are determined by the relevant SCS staff in consultation with the Team Leader: Child Protection.
Head of Agency
The Archbishop of Sydney is deemed to be the Head of Agency, as per Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW), for Sydney systemic schools. The Head of Agency may delegate certain responsibilities for oversight to the Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools.
For the purposes of this document, a complaint or allegation is considered to be any issue raised regarding the conduct of an employee of SCS in relation to children or young people, where such conduct is considered to be of a nature which may constitute reportable conduct in accordance with the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW).
- child or young person subject of the complaint is interviewed and relevant parent consent obtained
- employee given reasonable notice of complaint
- other witnesses interviewed
- relevant documents, e-communications or other items of evidence are obtained
- full details of allegation put to the employee who is the subject of the complaint
- the employee is given full details of the complaint in writing, with a support person present, and given an opportunity to respond (in writing and/or in person).
A ‘reportable allegation’ means an allegation of reportable conduct against a person, or an allegation of misconduct that may involve reportable conduct as defined by the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW). A reportable allegation must be reported to the Ombudsman and may result in an employee’s name being forwarded to the NSW Office of Children’s Guardian following a relevant completed employment proceeding.
In accordance with the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW), reportable conduct is defined as:
- any sexual offence or sexual misconduct committed against, with, or in the presence of a child (including child pornography offences)
- any assault, ill-treatment, or neglect of a child
- any behaviour that causes psychological harm to a child
- whether or not, in any case, with the consent of the child.
An exempt allegation
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 child, and to any relevant codes of conduct or professional standards (Code of Professional Conduct)
- the use of physical force that is trivial and negligible, but only if the matter is to be investigated and the result of the investigation recorded under workplace employment procedures
- conduct of a class or kind exempted from being reportable conduct by the Ombudsman under 25C (4) of the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW). Examples of this include allegations of physical assault, insofar as they fit specific criteria for children in different age groups and there is no alleged harm or injury to the child.
Note: matters not requiring a report to the NSW Ombudsman must still be recorded, investigated and an appropriate finding made.