Type: Conduct

Classification: Operational
Policy Number: HR201901
Version: 1.0
Updated:  November 2018

This Code of Professional Conduct incorporates the Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) Code of Conduct for Professional Conduct in the Protection of Children and Young People.

It was first published by the Department of Human Resources in 2014 and is updated every three years.

The purpose of this code of conduct is to promote a common understanding and consistency in expected standards of behaviour for employees. It may be applied to all people engaged to work in or provide services for Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS).

The code of conduct is not intended to be exhaustive but it does outline standards of conduct and behaviour that are expected of all staff within SCS.

The mission of the Catholic Church unequivocally commits SCS workplaces and every school community to foster the dignity, self-esteem and integrity of their employees and of every person to whom it provides a service.

Employees in Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Sydney uphold this mission by modelling positive relationships and acting in a manner that creates a safe and productive educational and pastoral environment. Those working in education are engaged in child-related employment, and are therefore subject to the obligations and duties imposed through applicable legislation, policies, procedures and standards.

Sydney Catholic systemic schools and SCS workplaces seek to create a caring and faith-filled environment where Gospel teachings inspire and affirm the highest standard of ethical conduct. Employees have a privileged role of service that requires prudent judgment and positive workplace relationships. Catholic school communities actively support the development of a culture that does not condone improper conduct or violation of relationships through practices such as intimidation, bullying, harassment, breach of professional boundaries or abuse of power.

This document is grounded in the belief that all SCS staff should be:

  • acting professionally and with integrity in all relationships and situations;
  • maintaining relationships that develop within the context of Gospel values;
  • honouring the equality of women, men and children;
  • promoting Catholic education, whether in the classroom, the office or the community, through the delivery of professional services;
  • being consistently honest, trustworthy and accountable.

This code of conduct draws on the Catholic values and ethos that guides the work of everyone employed in Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The code of conduct embraces the principles and values inherent in the guiding documents, Integrity in Ministry, and, Integrity in the Service of the Church, (National Committee for Professional Standards, 2004 (A Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes.) It is underpinned by relevant legislation, policies, procedures and standards at both the state and federal level.

  • Original Implementation: Term 4, 2014
  • Orignal Approval: Term 3, 2014
  • Latest Review: Term 4, 2018
  • Due for Review: Term 3, 2020
  • Policy Owner: Human Resources (Employment Services)

The code of conduct is intended to:

  • clarify the parameters of appropriate and inappropriate conduct for employees of SCS;
  • promote a safe and supportive school environment for students, employees and the broader school community;
  • promote behaviours that are consistent with our Catholic values and ethos.

The code of conduct applies to any person engaged to work in or provide services in or to Sydney Catholic Schools.

This includes any person who is engaged by Sydney Catholic Schools, whether or not they are employed in connection with work or activities that relate to children.

This includes:

  • all paid employees of SCS, working in SCS schools or the Leichhardt, on a permanent, temporary or casual basis
  • contractors
  • sub-contracted staff including, but not limited to, staff engaged through agencies as temps, canteen staff and staff engaged in construction on school sites
  • temps
  • trainees and interns including students on tertiary practicum placements or work experience
  • consultants
  • volunteers
  • members of religious orders engaged in schools

Principal/supervisor/manager includes:

  • principals
  • consultants
  • directors
  • PGIA leaders
  • business managers/office managers
  • coordinators

Where this code of professional conduct refers to Employees the term Employees covers all categories of persons listed above and all requirements of this document apply to all of the listed categories of persons.

By working in or with a Sydney Catholic school or office, employees are required to be aware of and comply with this code of conduct.

The code of conduct requires:

  • employees to take responsibility for their own conduct
  • employees to conduct themselves in a manner that is professional, co-operative and consistent with the code of conduct
  • principals/supervisors/managers and leaders to make employees well aware regarding the expectations contained within this code of conduct as part of their induction and ongoing employment.

There may be consequences for a breach of the code of conduct (refer to 4.3).

While contractors, students on tertiary practicum placements and volunteers are not usually subject to disciplinary action, conduct that would be assessed as being a breach of the code of conduct may result in their employment being terminated.


Expectations of Employees

An employee is expected to:

  • act in accordance with the, Positive Workplace Relationships Policy and Guidelines,
  • perform duties to the best of their ability and be accountable for their performance
  • follow reasonable instructions provided by their supervisor
  • comply with a lawful direction from relevant personnel, including direct managers (co-ordinators), executives, principals and SCS personnel
  • carry out duties in a professional and competent manner
  • participate in relevant personal and professional growth opportunities in order to continuously improve knowledge and skills
  • act in an honest and impartial manner at all times (including in situations where they have strong personal views)
  • work collaboratively to ensure his/her safety as well as the safety of others
  • maintain a professional reputation, including in his/her personal/private life
  • be familiar with the legislation under which he/she is employed, as this may specify requirements with which he/she needs to comply
  • act in good faith by not making unfounded complaints, with malicious, frivolous or vexatious intent, against another person.


Expectations of principal/supervisor/manager

The principal/supervisor/manager is required to report any relevant child protection allegation in accordance with the following SCS child protection policies:

A principal, manager or supervisor, in addition to the above responsibilities, is expected to:

  • promote a collaborative and collegial workplace
  • exercise leadership by working with staff to implement performance and development processes that are consistent with the employee’s conditions of employment
  • provide ongoing support and feedback to staff
  • establish systems within the employee’s area of responsibility that support effective communication
  • consult with and involve staff in appropriate decision-making
  • inform employees of the code of conduct and all relevant policies, and make these documents accessible to them
  • take appropriate action if a breach of the code of conduct is found to have occurred.

Whilst different arrangements for engagement may apply for contractors, students on tertiary practicum placements and volunteers, they are still expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles underpinning the code of conduct.


Consequences of a Breach of the Code of Conduct

An employee holds a position of trust and is accountable for his/her actions.

Consequences of inappropriate behaviour and breaches of the code are described in various legislation, policies, procedures and standards applicable to the organisation. Relevant SCS policies, procedures and standards are available on the SCS intranet.

If an employee’s actions are found to be inappropriate, unethical or appear to breach the standards of the code of conduct, his/her supervisor has a responsibility to address any possible breach as soon as he/she becomes aware of it. This includes behaviour that is:

  • dishonest
  • fraudulent
  • corrupt
  • illegal – including, but not limited to: theft, drug offences, any use of violence or threat of violence, or criminal damage against property
  • a breach of other legislation
  • unsafe
  • a gross mismanagement or a repeated breach of administrative procedures
  • conduct that may cause financial or non-financial loss, or be detrimental to the school or SCS more broadly.

An alleged breach of the code of conduct may require a report to be made by either a principal or employee internally. The alleged breach may also need to be referred to external authorities under relevant legislation.

If any employee becomes aware of a breach of the code of conduct by a colleague, he/she should report this to the principal/supervisor/manager. If an employee is unsure about whether something needs to be reported, he/she may contact their union organiser or SCS Human Resources.

If an employee is concerned about an alleged breach of the code of conduct by his/her principal/supervisor/manager, this should be reported to the next level of management, as directed by the school authority or to the Director of Human Resources.

All reasonable steps will be taken to maintain the confidentiality of the person making the report. No adverse action will be taken by SCS against a complainant who makes a report in good faith. Persons making a report will be protected against reprisal, dismissal or discriminatory treatment as a result of making a report. Making a false complaint may be regarded as serious misconduct and may result in disciplinary action.

Every alleged breach of the code of conduct will be investigated as appropriate and proportionate to the alleged conduct. In investigating an alleged breach of the code of conduct, objective and impartial processes will be followed. Generally, where the report concerns the actions of another person, that person would be informed of the complaint in writing, where appropriate. This is subject to considerations such as maintaining the anonymity of the person making the report, or advice from external parties such as police or Family and Community Services.

The appropriate action to be taken in each case will be determined by the facts and circumstances. The seriousness of the alleged breach will usually determine the level of investigation.

Appropriate action is determined by considering:

  • the nature and seriousness of the breach
  • prior breaches
  • when the prior breaches occurred
  • mitigating circumstances
  • assessment of risk and
  • whether the breach would be serious enough to warrant formal disciplinary action.

Outcomes may include:

  • counselling
  • performance management
  • professional learning/development
  • increased supervision or monitoring
  • coaching or mentoring
  • specialist assessment
  • informal or formal disciplinary action
  • demotion
  • redeployment
  • termination.

Working in education is child-related employment and is therefore subject to relevant child protection legislation. Under this legislation, there are specific requirements for employees in reporting matters of concern, including the obligation to:

  • inform their employer if they are charged or convicted of an offence relevant to working in child-related employment, or have had any reportable allegation made against them
  • report to the employer any allegations or convictions of reportable conduct involving an employee, as required by the head of agency pursuant to Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW)
  • report any information or concerns about inappropriate behaviour by another employee which involves a student or any other child or young person under the age of 18 years
  • fulfil their legal obligations to report to the principal/manager/supervisor any risk of significant harm to a child, or to report possible criminal activity in accordance with the relevant legislation and SCS policy and practices
  • maintain the confidentiality of all parties concerned. In any matters where there is doubt as to the requirements of confidentially, the employee should seek the advice of their principal/manager/supervisor or SCS Human Resources. The employee may also choose to seek appropriate advice from their union regarding requirements of confidentiality.

SCS has a duty of care to all staff, volunteers and contractors to provide a safe place of work.

Employees have a legal and moral obligation to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others, including colleagues, students and others who they come into contact with as part of their employment. Duty of care cannot be universally defined for all possible situations but requires a consideration of the context, the risks to students and others, and the assessment of reasonable steps that would be required in the circumstances.

Duty of care obligations arise from the specific role and responsibilities of the employee and may include:

  • providing supervision
  • ensuring that grounds, premises and equipment are safe
  • implementing strategies to prevent bullying and harassment
  • following procedures relating to safety, welfare and wellbeing
  • providing medical assistance (if competent to do so), or seeking assistance from a medically trained person to aid a person who is injured or becomes sick at school*
  • complying with legislative and other prescribed obligations under work health & safety legislation and regulations, including those related to induction, emergency procedures and fire safety requirements
  • complying with relevant child protection legislation, policies, procedures and standards, including reporting risk of significant harm to a child or young person.

*Note that the WHS Act extends this to include not just the school, but other locations and sites staff and students attend for educational purposes, including excursion locations, churches and TAFE.

Employees are expected to behave in ways that promote the health, safety and wellbeing of students. All staff must understand and observe child protection legislation, policies, procedures and standards, including the maintenance of appropriate boundaries with children and young people. Employees must be aware of the policies around allegations of reportable conduct against employees.

Employees must be aware that their interactions with students are based on a trusting relationship arising from the nature of their role in the workplace, and that these relationships are open to scrutiny. This includes interactions with children and young people which occur outside of the workplace. Employees must not develop or allow to develop a relationship with any student which could be interpreted as being personal rather than professional.

Under no circumstances will a sexual relationship between an employee and a student be tolerated. Such relationships may be subject to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Relationships developed with students during the course of their schooling and pursued after the students have left the school could also attract legal recourse.

Where there are existing personal relationships such as family relationships or close friendships that involve an employee and a student, the employee needs to be transparent, prudent and mindful of any perceived conflict of interest. The employee must ensure that he/she does not breach the code or any other relevant policy.

Employees are required to inform the principal/manager/supervisor in situations where family or friendship relationships with students exist. Employees must be mindful of any perceived conflict of interest if they are involved in educational decisions involving family members or close friends.

While not all employees are required to manage and supervise students, it is essential for all employees to understand and observe child protection policies.

Unacceptable behaviour includes but is not limited to:

  • communication without an appropriate professional reason authorised by the principal – expectations for all staff are set out in the relevant SCS policies available on through the SCS Intranet
  • inviting students to join an employee’s social networking site/page/group
  • accepting an invitation to join a student’s social networking site/page/group
  • attending parties with or socialising with students
  • inviting students to the employee’s home
  • attending the home of a student without an appropriate professional reason and the consent of the parent or guardian and principal
  • transporting a student in a vehicle except in the case of a prior existing personal relationship (i.e. the student and teacher are family members) where permission has been granted by the parents and the principal. However, an employee may transport a student in their own vehicle in an emergency situation, and if parent/guardian permission cannot be obtained, a second adult should accompany the staff member. In these circumstances, the principal must be informed as soon as possible before or after the student has been in the teacher’s car
  • using sexual innuendo or inappropriate language or material with students
  • engaging students in conversations of an intimate personal nature including disclosing private information
  • giving students gifts which may encourage them to think they have a special relationship with the employee
  • discussing your personal life, sharing personal belongings/materials and/or photographs/videos/other media with students and/or parents/caregivers without an appropriate professional reason
  • addressing students in an overly familiar way (i.e. using pet names)
  • sharing your phone/personal email/home address contact details with students and/or parents/caregivers without an appropriate professional reason
  • physically entering a student’s personal space/boundaries without an appropriate professional reason
  • inappropriate language in the presence of students, parents/caregivers, colleagues and/or school community members
  • spending time with students outside of school hours on/off the school site or via electronic media without an appropriate professional reason
  • taking photos/videos/other media of students without an appropriate professional reason and authorisation from an appropriate member of the school leadership and/or retaining these on your device after these have been uploaded to the appropriate school server/data storage facility
  • posting/publishing/printing/sharing and/or sending photos of students on websites, social media and/or other electronic or print media without parental permission and appropriate professional reason
  • implementing behaviour management strategies which are demeaning and/or age inappropriate for students
  • being in/on a student’s vehicle without an appropriate professional reason

An employee is obliged to be aware of the relevant legislation which prohibits:

  • sexual relations with a person under the age of legal consent
  • sexual relations between a teacher and a student
  • possession, production, displaying or transmission of child pornography.

Employees need to recognise the special position of trust and influence that a teacher or other school employee has with a student. This position of trust may continue after a student has left the school. It may also continue after the student has turned 18 years of age. Extreme care must be taken in any relationship between a teacher (or other school employee) and a former student, even one over 18 years of age.

Before entering into a personal, intimate or sexual relationship with a former student, a teacher or other school employee should consider many factors including:

  • the special relationship of trust and influence which is created between a teacher (or other school employee) and student, arising from the nature of the employee’s role
  • the age and maturity of the former student
  • the time that has passed since the student had left the school
  • the expectation that teachers will not act contrary to Catholic values and ethos
  • the perceptions of the community of such a relationship
  • the potential impact on the reputation of the school, Catholic education and the teaching profession, because of the relationship.

A personal or sexual relationship with a former student entered into by a teacher or other SCS employee may be found to be sexual misconduct if it is established that the employee used his or her position to develop and maintain a personal or intimate relationship with the student before the student left the school.

Schools, and Central Offices are professional workplaces which require professional relationships between employees, and between employees and the principal/manager/supervisor. Employees are expected to conduct themselves in ways which are conducive to positive workplace relationships.

Employees should refer to the Positive Workplace Relationships: Prevention of Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace – Policy and Guidelines for further information around professional relationships between colleagues.

Conduct which is not consistent with professional relationships:

  • gossip
  • inappropriate personal remarks to a colleague or other persons about a colleague
  • forming alliances/cliques which exclude other colleagues
  • offensive, hostile or discriminatory conduct and behaviour which may cause offence or isolation of a colleague
  • intentionally withholding information.

It is important to note that in the area of discrimination law at state and federal level, the focus is on the impact on the person rather than the intention of the individual/s involved. Care must be taken to take into account sensitivities regarding race, gender, age etc.

This section applies to all forms of communication by employees including but not limited to communications:

  • in person
  • via phone
  • via laptop, ipad/tablet or other device
  • by email
  • online on any website or forum
  • on social media
  • in another format with another person or publicly
  • via apps/applications

SCS provides staff with access to phones, emails, internet and ICT facilities for educational and/or administrative purposes. Any matters that need to be communicated urgently are best done in direct conversation.

There is no expectation on SCS staff to check or respond to emails outside of reasonable working hours other than in the case of an emergency or critical incident. Reasonable working hours would generally be those hours in which the school/office reception is open (i.e. 8am to 5pm).

In ordinary circumstances, staff are requested not to send communications to colleagues late at night or in the early hours of the morning other than in the case of an emergency or critical incident. Emails prepared late at night, in the early hours or on weekends can be saved in drafts and sent the following day/Monday morning.

At the workplace level, schools may develop local protocols around communications relevant to their school environment and consistent with these principles.

Where a staff member takes photos/videos/other media of students on a device for an appropriate professional purpose they must:

  • Upload the relevant media to the appropriate server/data storage facility as soon as possible
  • Delete all records of that media from the device
  • Not distribute/publish or display that media without parental consent and the knowledge and permission of the Principal
  • Ensure that they are aware if the parents of any student in the class have not signed the media consent form and that student cannot legally be photographed/videoed

When communicating it is expected that each employee will:

  • exercise good judgment
  • use appropriate, professional language and images
  • not speak in a way which constitutes shouting, yelling, swearing or other inappropriate conduct
  • avoid using capitalisation and bold, underline or coloured text in emails unless for an appropriate professional purpose, as this may be perceived negatively
  • avoid being personal in email, blogs, wikis or on social networking sites
  • not upload, download, circulate, display or respond to any of the following materials:
    • sexually related or pornographic messages or material containing thoughts and feelings with overfamiliar or sexual connotations
    • child pornography
    • violent or hate-related messages or material
    • threatening, defamatory, obscene or harassing messages or material
    • racist or other offensive messages or material
    • subversive or other messages or material related to illegal activities
  • report any situations to the principal/supervisor/manager if he/she receives or becomes aware of inappropriate communications by colleagues as listed above
  • use an appropriate phone, email or in-person manner, including a positive, helpful and engaged tone of voice and choice of language
  • not speak, write or respond in any manner which would be inconsistent with the Catholic ethos or the expectations of an employee of Sydney Catholic Schools.

Sydney Catholic Schools provides ICT facilities for its students and employees for educational and/or administrative purposes, (refer to the Staff Acceptable Use of Technology Policy and Guidelines


The employer has the right to monitor and view any data used, stored or transmitted using the employer’s facilities or devices. It is critical to remember that, by its nature, electronic communication is a fast and often informal way of communicating, however, once a document or image has been created, sent or saved, it exists forever.

Employees must comply with all relevant policies or procedures relating to the use of ICT including the Staff Use of Social Media Policy.

It is recommended that personal email accounts be kept separate from work email accounts.

In certain circumstances, electronic files or communication can be accessed by the employer/police or other agencies for viewing or production in court.

If there are reasons for an employee to communicate with students or their families using ICT for reasons other than educational/school purposes, it is important the employee discusses this with their principal/supervisor/manager.

Employees must be familiar with the Staff use of Social Media Policy.

Certain social media sites are not appropriate for professional use.

Private use of social media should be managed by each employee in a way which protects his/her professional reputation as an employee of SCS.

Employees are expected to exercise professionalism at all times in using and publishing material on official school social media accounts.

Employees are recommended not to use or link their personal social media accounts to the official school social media account to avoid students, parents/caregivers and community members finding their personal social media accounts. Where an Employee does elect to use a personal social media account to follow SCS social media accounts their account should be locked with appropriate privacy settings such that parents/students are not able to view their personal materials.

Employees must not use social media in a manner which would bring their employer into disrepute. Identifying the employer or place of work in personal social media may increase the risk of bringing their employer into disrepute.

Employees must not make comments/post pictures/or make any other public remark about any SCS staff member, parent or student on social media which are inappropriate, derogatory and/or offensive. Employees must report to the principal/supervisor/manager if they become aware of any of the above, and the conduct should be investigated in accordance with the Positive Workplace Relationships Policy and Guidelines.

If an employee feels that they have become an online target of inappropriate communication from students or any member of the school community, he/she should alert the principal/manager/supervisor.

Please refer to the Positive Working Relationships Policy and Guidelines for further information about professional relationships between colleagues.

All employees have an obligation to maintain appropriate records and data in relation to their professional practice. All records and data that are produced in the course of work are the intellectual property of SCS. Student and staff records are to be maintained in a manner that is consistent with obligations under the relevant privacy laws. This does not preclude the appropriate sharing of information that is pertinent to the appropriate care and education of students.

A record serves an essential administrative, legal and historical purpose. A record includes, but is not restricted to, class rolls, student assessment records, emails, electronic documents, digital images and audio recordings, correspondence, statements, records of interviews, files, forms, plans, drawings, notes, photographs and films.

Each employee has a responsibility to create and maintain full, accurate and honest records of their professional activities and decisions. He/she should create and maintain contemporaneous records of any disclosure, observations and discussions in relation to a breach of the code of conduct.

Employees should be mindful of the need to retain records securely and confidentially and they should seek appropriate advice regarding the destruction of records. Principals/supervisor/managers have a responsibility to ensure that the employees reporting to them comply with their records management obligations.

SCS employees must behave ethically, appropriately and with integrity and will not plagiarise for work, academic or other purposes.

Work represented by an employee as solely their own work will be solely their own work. Work completed in collaboration with others will be represented as the work of a team/school and/or with appropriate private/public acknowledgment of others involved in the creation of that work.

SCS recognises that staff collaboration and drawing upon the resources and work of others is invaluable for planning, programming, teaching and learning. However, it is critical that where work is shared that the original creator is acknowledged or gives their permission for their work to be used and that work submitted for any official, NESA or academic purpose is the original work of the individual.

Employees will not:

  • Plagiarise the work of others and represent it as their own work without the express permission of the creator
  • Represent work which is partially or solely the work of others as their own work without discussion with/ acknowledgment to that other person
  • Plagiarise the work of others and represent it as their own work for any formal/official purpose including but not limited to:
    • NESA accreditation purposes including evidence collection/reports
    • academic studies/qualifications/papers/essays/materials
    • official school documents such as student reports, letters and/or other materials
    • workshops/presentations/professional learning sessions
    • any other official SCS workplace purpose.

Employees will not complete any form of fraud/misconduct during engagement with SCS including but not limited to:

  • fraud
  • falsifying documents
  • misappropriation of government funds/school fees/school funds
  • failure to follow SCS financial accounting procedures
  • misrepresentation
  • personal use of business resources
  • negligent or wilful poor stewardship of resources
  • falsifying timesheets
  • manipulation of student/employee data
  • private purchases through business accounts/business credit cards

Employees are required to comply with copyright legislation and regulations. Any use of copyright material requires the permission of the copyright-holder consistent with copyright legislation. Employees who do not comply with copyright legislation risk disciplinary action and SCS takes no responsibility for the actions of employees who breach copyright.

Work that is developed in the course of employment remains the intellectual property of SCS. Intellectual property includes, but is not limited to: music, written works, symbols, designs and programs. Documents and programs developed within one school context remain the property of that school and SCS. Copies may be retained and used by the originating school even though the employee may re-use the materials at a new location.

SCS encourages staff to share freely the material that they develop in the course of work. Materials should include the National Education Access Licence for Schools (NEALS) logo as this supports the sharing of such materials. The NEALS logo allows staff in schools to copy any material that is normally available to them and marked with a NEAL’s logo without incurring the usual copyright fees that would apply. There is no restriction on the volume (number of copies), provided materials are used for an educational purpose only.

Materials that are shared and appropriated should always have the original creator of the document acknowledged.

Each employee has a right to participate in political and community activities, and pursue individual interests, provided they do not publicly conflict with their role as an employee of SCS.

Employees must not make disparaging comments about others or the organisation in any public forum, including social media.

Employees are responsible for ensuring that their capacity to perform their duties is not impaired by the use of medications, tobacco, alcohol or drugs, and that the use of these substances does not put them, a student or any other person’s health and safety at risk. An employee who is concerned about any colleague who may be affected by medication, alcohol or other drugs should consult his/her principal/manager/supervisor.

Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while an employee is ‘on duty’ can affect his/her ability to work safely and efficiently, especially when he/she has a responsibility to supervise or work in close proximity to students. The employee’s principal/manager/supervisor may seek the assistance of the Legal, Staff Wellbeing and Professional Services team at SCS if there are concerns in relation to employee substance abuse.


Prescribed Medications

If an employee is required to take medication (including prescription medication) which may impair his/her work performance, conduct or ability to exercise duty of care, he/she must notify their principal/manager/supervisor.


Alcohol, Tobacco and Illicit Substances

Employees must not take to school or consume at school, or at school-related activities or workplaces, any illegal drugs or restricted substances.

Employees must not consume tobacco on school premises.

Employees must not consume tobacco at any school-related activity where students are visibly present.

Employees must not present at work under the influence of alcohol. Employees must not consume alcohol during work hours or at school activities such as school retreats, excursions and other school activities when students are present. In the absence of a policy that totally prohibits the consumption of alcohol, schools should be mindful of the following when deciding if alcohol is appropriate at events:

  • professional boundaries and safety of students and colleagues
  • modelling appropriate behaviour for students
  • work, health and safety
  • laws against driving under the influence of alcohol
  • reputation of the school
  • professional reputation

If an employee is concerned that any person at work may be affected by alcohol or drugs, or may have engaged in the behaviours outlined above, he/she should consult the relevant principal/manager/supervisor.


Provision of Medications, Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco to Students

Employees must not purchase for, offer, supply, give or administer to students (including those over the age of 18):

  • illegal drugs
  • restricted substances
  • prescribed or non-prescribed medication (unless dealing with or administering medication in accordance with relevant policy);
  • alcohol
  • tobacco and/or e-cigarettes/vapers.

Employees must not encourage or condone students’ use of:

  • illegal drugs
  • restricted substances
  • alcohol
  • tobacco and/or e-cigarettes/vapers.

All employees have an obligation to SCS to ensure that their role as an employee is not impacted by any competing, conflicting or outside interest, be it personal, financial, relational, filial, or otherwise.

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest is a situation or set of circumstances that has the potential to influence the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a real or perceived link between the person’s self-interest and their professional interest. The private interest can include, but is not limited to, financial gain, desire for professional advancement, or the desire to assist family and friends.

Employees must not accept gifts that are excessive or that may give rise to an expectation or perception of bias, inducement or advancement for the gift-giver. Gifts that are received under such circumstances must be returned and the principal/manager/supervisor informed.

As an organisation which provides education services to children, it is expected that each employee will always:

  • inform their employer or supervisor of any conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest, that arises at work
  • conduct himself/herself in an objective and impartial manner at work, and be seen to do so.

Examples of competing interests include:

  • a teacher referring their students to attend private tutoring sessions in which he/she or a relative or friend has a financial/business interest
  • an employee tutoring or coaching students from their school or workplace in return for payment
  • an employee running a local dance school with students from the school.
Secondary Employment

Full-time employees shall not engage in any other employment without the express written permission of the Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools or a delegate. The Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools has delegated this function to the Director of Human Resources and to each principal. Approval must be obtained annually. For HSC marking, seeking the approval of the principal is part of the application process and a separate approval need not be obtained.

Part-time employees who work in another Sydney Catholic school or with another employer on the days on which they are not working within the school must advise their principal/manager/supervisor of any such other employment.

Engaging in other employment may compromise the duties of an employee owed to SCS as the primary employer. For this reason, employees who engage in secondary employment must ensure that their duties to SCS are not adversely affected by their secondary employment, and that no conflict of interest arises.

For child protection reasons, permission to undertake secondary employment will ordinarily not be granted for employees to work in an external tutoring/coaching capacity with students who are currently enrolled at the school/college in which the employee is engaged.

Employees as Parents/Carers of School Students

From time to time, employees will interact with a school in their capacity as a parent or carer. It is expected that such interactions will be in the capacity of a parent only, and will be consistent with the professional standards and expectations of SCS employees. Please refer to clause 13.0 Managing Professional Reputation.

Care must be taken to not interfere with teaching and learning. Any concerns regarding the child/ren of an employee need to be taken forward using the appropriate formal channels which have been put in place at the school and system level. Discussions with other parents about matters other than those concerning their own children should not occur.

Employees Working in the School their Child Attends

Sydney Catholic Schools understands that some employees may work in a school in which their child is enrolled. To prevent any perceived or actual conflict of interest, particular policy restrictions apply to ensure equitable and fair processes for all students.

Sydney Catholic Schools recognises that the appointment of a staff member to a school at which their child is enrolled, or the enrolment of a child in a school in which their parent or stepparent is already employed, can generate pressures and misunderstandings among parents, students and colleagues.

To guard against such conflicts, the following practices should be observed:

  • SCS employees should avoid, where possible, working directly with their child in an educational setting
  • SCS employees should not be involved in the marking of any assessment task which their child has completed
  • SCS employees should not be involved in the management of the discipline of their child in their capacity as an employee
  • to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, an employee should not participate directly or indirectly in any decisions involving a direct benefit to their child, including but not limited to: any financial decision, any academic decision, any decision involving selection of their child for a sporting/academic or other extracurricular pursuit, and any other decision which may be seen as a conflict of interest
  • where a conflict of interest may arise any decision to be made will be made by a more senior colleague (for example the co-ordinator, assistant principal, principal, consultant or director) or referred to the Director of Human Resources.
Employment of Family Members

For the purpose of this clause, ‘family member’ includes all parties related by blood or marriage and all parties in a personal or sexual relationship with an existing member of SCS staff.

SCS permits the employment of more than one member of a family (including parents, siblings, spouses and children), whether or not the person concerned is employed in the same region, office or school. This approach does, however, require particular policy restrictions to ensure an equitable and fair recruitment process in all circumstances.

As in all appointments, the primary concern with the appointment of members of family of existing staff is that the applicants are the best candidates for the particular role in regard to work experience and academic or administrative qualifications.

SCS staff and schools are welcome to refer relatives who are interested in filling available advertised positions at SCS, however, employment decisions cannot be made on the basis of personal relationships.

Any individual who makes an offer of employment to a family member without advertising the position, or who makes a significant change to the conditions of a role to benefit a family member, assumes responsibility for any penalties, liabilities and expenses which may arise out of that action. This applies equally to casual, part time, full time, temporary and permanent roles.

SCS recognises that the appointment of two or more family members, especially within the same school, can generate pressures and prejudice among colleagues. For this reason SCS recognises that in most cases it will not be appropriate for two family members to be employed within one department or school.

To guard against such conflicts, the following practices should be observed:

  • family members of existing SCS staff cannot be appointed or employed in any position, casual, contract, temporary or permanent, unless the position has been advertised and is open to internal and external applicants
  • no employee may be directly involved in the recruitment, selection or employment of a family member – where a family member of an existing employee is an applicant for a position, a panel will be composed consisting of a chair and panelists who are not related to any applicant to ensure transparency and guard against perceptions of bias
  • a family member of an existing staff member cannot be employed in the same school or office of SCS without the express written permission of the Director of Human Resources
  • to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, no employee may participate directly or indirectly in any decisions involving a direct benefit to a member of their family including initial employment, promotion, salary/stipend/allowance/payment/ or any other financial reimbursement, classification, performance appraisal or other working conditions
  • where such a conflict may arise any decision to be made will be made by a more senior colleague (for example a consultant or director) or referred to the Director of Human Resources.
Engagement of Family Members as Contractors

For the purpose of this clause, ‘family member’ includes all parties related by blood or marriage and all parties in a personal or sexual relationship with an existing member of SCS staff.

SCS staff are permitted to alert relatives to jobs as contractors within the SCS system in schools and offices other than that in which they personally are employed or have an influence over relevant decision making. The financial decision to engage a contractor cannot involve any element of personal relationship.

SCS does not ordinarily permit the engagement of the family members of existing staff members as contractors at the same school site or office site in which their relative is employed, unless otherwise approved by the Director of Human Resources.

In certain circumstances where there is no other alternative available contractor a relative of a staff member may be engaged as a one-off with the approval of the Director of Human Resources and the relevant consultant. Approval will not ordinarily be granted for the relative of any member of the school leadership team to be engaged as a contractor.

Any individual who engages a family member as a contractor assumes responsibility for any penalties, liabilities and expenses which may arise out of that action.

Employees working in schools which they attended

In the interest of the professional growth of new graduate teachers and practicum students it is generally recognised that commencing their teaching career in a different setting than the primary or secondary school they attended will assist in transitioning as a professional and ensuring appropriate professional boundaries with colleagues, students and community members.

It is important for employees to have a separation of their identity as a student versus their role as an employee in a position of responsibility, and are seen in this way by other staff, students, parents/caregivers and community members.

Where an employee is to be engaged at a school in which they attended as a student within five years of graduation from year 12, the matter should be referred to the Consultant.


Recruitment at SCS is to be conducted in accordance with appropriate SCS Recruitment and Selection Policy and Guidelines. Employees involved in a selection process need to disclose any prior knowledge or interest in any of the applicants. This is to ensure that any conflict of interest, which might unduly influence that person in the selection process, is carefully managed. Prior knowledge of an applicant does not necessarily amount to a conflict of interest.

Political commentary

SCS is an apolitical organisation and operates from an apolitical perspective. SCS employees involved in public communications on behalf of SCS will ensure that communications released are consistent with an apolitical perspective and ensure that the views of all political parties are fairly represented in communications.

SCS employees must ensure that any political comment which they make via media or social media is not attributed to SCS or attributed/related to their role within SCS.

Some SCS employees who are employed in senior roles with senior responsibilities (as identified in their contract of employment) within the organisation should not be making any political comments via media or social media as it may be perceived to be a comment on behalf of SCS.

Employees are obliged to dress in a manner which reflects positively on SCS, maintains the professional reputation of the staff member and is appropriate to their role and responsibilities in a Catholic workplace.

The staff dress code is professional attire as a minimum standard. Particular schools, offices and departments may set their own additional professional dress requirements above this minimum standard at their discrection.

All SCS staff must dress at all times in a manner which is:

  • neat, modest, and tidy
  • appropriate for a staff member in a Catholic workplace
  • appropriate for a staff member in child-related employment
  • professional
  • appropriate for their role and responsibilities
  • appropriate in the light of work, health and safety obligations, particularly in relation to appropriate footwear
  • inoffensive to other staff, students and the community and which does not constitute any form of harassment or bullying
  • not casual attire such as, tracksuits, singlets, t-shirts, leggings or hoodies, unless it forms part of the school sports attire specifically required for the activity of that day (i.e. school camp/PDHPE teaching/school staff sports day).

Note:It is the expectation of SCS that body piercings (other than ear piercings) and tattoos will not be visible while in the presence of students.

SCS only provides written Statements of Service. Any written reference that is provided must be on behalf of an individual and not written on SCS or school letterhead.

Care should be taken by employees in providing accurate references for employment or other purposes, particularly when the only knowledge of the individual is in a workplace setting.

Verbal references will often be sought. It is important for each employee to provide accurate, truthful and professional information, using specific examples where possible, to illustrate their opinion.

Employees must be mindful of confidentiality and privacy when providing verbal information.

SCS collect and store confidential and personal information about students, their families and employees. Any misuse of confidential or personal information, whether intentional or reckless, is inconsistent with the SCS mission and ethos. It may harm individuals and the reputation and credibility of Sydney Catholic systemic schools. It may also be unlawful.

Therefore, employees must:

  • treat confidential and personal information about students, their families or other staff with respect
  • exercise caution and sound judgment in discussing other people’s confidential and personal information
  • comply with relevant legislation and regulations regarding the collection, dissemination, use and security of all such information
  • use such information only for work-related purposes
  • communicate such information only to those who need the information in order to perform their role
  • not disclose any confidential information regarding students, parents/families or colleagues, with the exception of disclosure to the principal, assistant principal or other person required to know for an appropriate work purpose. The decision around disclosure of confidential information to other staff will be made by the principal or relevant manager.

Sharing of confidential and personal information with external persons or agencies may only occur within the established guidelines for such communication and in accordance with any relevant legislation relating to the provision of such information. See the Privacy Policy and the Record (Data) Management and Retention Policy.


Policy Number: HR201901-1.0


Version: 1.0

Last modified: November 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.


Audience: SCS


Review by: September 2020


Originally Approved by Leadership Team: April 2014

Review Approved by Leadership Team: 6 December 2018


Originally Endorsed by SACS Board: 3 April 2014


Approved by Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools: 1 November 2017

Review approved by Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools: 13 December 2018


Commencement Date: March 2014 (reviewed 2018)