Policy Number: SCS2024007
Document Rescinds / Replaces: SCS2021007
Date released: February 2024
Review by: February 2029
Policy type: Operational

The Code of Professional Conduct (the Code) sets out the standards of conduct, professional and personal behaviour that Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) requires of its staff in upholding and encouraging a safe, supportive, ethical, productive and harmonious workplace.

Staff members have a responsibility to uphold the standards contained in the Code, including upholding the teachings and values of the Catholic Church and to avoid by word, action or public lifestyle, behaviours which are contrary to those teachings and values.

The Code does not attempt to provide a detailed and exhaustive list of what staff can or should do in every situation but instead sets out standards of guidance and expected behaviour.

The Code applies to all SCS. In this policy staff means all SCS employees, members of religious orders engaged in schools, volunteers, trainees (including practicum teachers), interns, and committee members. This policy is also applicable to contractors and consultants.

Staff must act lawfully and comply with all legislative, contractual and industrial requirements while engaged by SCS. Staff must also comply with SCS’ policies and guidelines and follow all reasonable and lawful directions given by SCS.

Staff must:

  • in the performance of their role, uphold the mission, teachings and ethos of the Catholic Church
  • avoid any influence on students that is inconsistent with the mission, teachings and ethos of the Catholic Church
  • be honest and act with integrity at all times
  • be objective, fair, impartial and accountable
  • respect the dignity, rights and views of others
  • listen and seek to understand different points of view (this does not necessarily mean agreeing with the point of view)
  • act respectfully at all times, including respecting cultural, ethnic and religious differences
  • acknowledge the genuine contributions that others make
  • express constructive feedback considerately and in a moderate tone
  • not disparage, harass, bully or discriminate against colleagues, students, parents or community members
  • not bring the reputation of Sydney Catholic Schools into disrepute
  • be courteous, fair, sensitive and considerate to the needs of others
  • actively assist in managing workplace conflict that personally affects them or staff members under their supervision to create positive and constructive outcomes
  • respect physical boundaries with colleagues

5.1 Productivity and performance

Staff must:

  • maintain a high standard and quality of work
  • not plagiarise the work of others
  • maintain and develop knowledge and understanding of their area of expertise
  • continuously seek to improve work performance and bring about improvements in the workplace
  • exercise care, responsibility and sound judgment when carrying out their duties
  • dress appropriately, professionally and in a manner that maintains respect and upholds the good reputation of SCS and is appropriate for child related work. Please note, body piercings (other than ear piercings) and tattoos are not to be visible while working
  • ensure procedural fairness is followed in all processes
  • maintain adequate documentation to support any professional decision making

5.2 Health and safety

Staff must:

  • take reasonable care of their safety and health in the workplace
  • take reasonable steps that their acts/omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others, including colleagues, students, parents/carers and members of the wider school community
  • immediately report any injury, incident, hazard or near miss to their Principal or Manager
  • not provide or permit students’ use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaping
  • not carry out their duties under the influence of alcohol, any illegal substance, or any drug which impairs work performance or poses a safety risk to themselves or others ensure they do not use tobacco, e-cigarettes or vape while at work and/or in the presence of students
  • not drink alcohol in the presence of students or at work. Please note the drinking of alcohol at work is allowed in certain limited circumstances, such as a Christmas party, but only where it has been approved by the relevant Principal or Director in advance and if no students are present.

5.3 Integrity

Staff must:

  • not ignore work duties or waste time during working hours
  • not take or seek to take improper advantage of any information gained in the course of employment
  • not take improper advantage of their position to benefit themselves or other
  • not allow personal political views/affiliations or other personal interests to influence or conflict with the performance of duties or exercise of responsibilities, including when representing SCS in a public setting.

5.4 Communications and reporting

Staff must:

  • report to SCS any instance where they believe they, or anyone within their workplace, has breached SCS policies, directions or guidelines, including this Code
  • not make or publish inappropriate or disparaging public comments about SCS, including on their personal social media, or make comments, including political commentary that could be perceived to be attributed to their role within SCS
  • use all forms of communication, including social media, responsibly and appropriately and in line with the Ethical Behaviour outlined in section 4 above maintain confidentiality and privacy where required.

5.5 External Engagements

Staff must:

  • ensure that any request to speak at an external forum (including conferences, seminars, external networking events and conference/seminar panels) receives prior approval from the SCS Communications Team. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for another person to represent SCS in the external forum
  • ensure that speaking at an external forum does not distract from the performance of one’s usual duties and does not bring the reputation of SCS into disrepute
  • ensure that any agreement with an external party provides that materials are treated as confidential, and they cannot be distributed or published without express authorisation by an SCS Director. Materials include, though are not limited to: photographs; video/audio recordings; online/hard copy promotional material; presentations and speech notes.

6.1 Required behaviours

Staff must:

  • promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of students
  • comply with their duty of care including ensuring adequate supervision of students at all times
  • maintain professional relationships and ensure appropriate and respectful communication with students and parents/carers, including outside the workplace and on SCS social media platforms
  • abide by the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers for teacher-qualified staff
  • inform their Principal or Manager immediately if they are charged or convicted of a criminal offence, or have a finding or reportable allegation made against them (as defined in the SCS Child Protection Policy Responding to Allegations and Complaints against SCS Staff)
  • inform their Principal or Manager of any family or friendship relationships with students and ensure there is no conflict of interest involving family members of students of close friends
  • abide by SCS child protection policies and guidelines, including ensuring they fulfill their mandatory reporting obligations including reportable conduct, risk of significant harm notifications and any possible criminal activity involving children.

6.2 Prohibited behaviours

6.2.1. Sexual/physical conduct

Staff must not:

  • verbally abuse a student or create a climate of fear
  • physically enter a student’s personal space without an appropriate professional reason
  • engage in any unwarranted or inappropriate physical contact with students
  • use corporal punishment in any circumstances or implement behaviour management strategies that are demeaning or include strategies that are not age appropriate
  • develop or allow to develop a relationship with any student which could be interpreted as being personal rather than professional
  • be alone with a student where there is no professional reason for this. Where there is a reason, staff should remain visible to others where possible
  • engage in conversation with students on personal or intimate matters or share personal information, materials or belongings
  • make personal comments or address students in an overly familiar way (e.g. pet names)
  • have a sexual relationship with a student
  • use sexual innuendo or inappropriate language with students including telling adult jokes or discussing topics of a sexualised nature share inappropriate material with students either verbally or via technology platforms such as an Ipad, mobile phone, social media etc
  • Provide or permit students access to pornography or explicit material

Extreme caution must be taken before a staff member considers entering into a relationship with a former student over the age of 18 years. This behaviour may be found to be sexual misconduct if it was established the staff member used their position to develop the relationship with the student prior to them leaving the school and is strongly discouraged.

6.2.2. Transport & home visits

Staff must not:

  • transport a student in their vehicle unless they are family members, or permission has been granted by the parents/carers and the Principal or in an emergency situation (in which case a second adult should accompany the staff member and the Principal should be notified as soon as possible thereafter)
  • be transported within a student’s vehicle without a professional reason for this occurring (in which case the staff member must notify the Principal prior to or as soon as possible after)
  • invite students to their home or attend a student’s home without an appropriate professional reason and without the consent of the parents/carers and the Principal.

6.2.3. Social media & activities

Staff must not:

  • invite students to join their personal social networking sites
  • accept an invitation to join a student’s personal social networking site
  • engage in any form of communication with students on their personal email accounts or social media platforms
  • give students gifts that are not in accordance with the school’s general practices or that will lead them to think there is a special relationship with the staff member
  • take or share photographs/video of students without an appropriate professional reason or retain such images on their personal device after they have been uploaded to the school/system database
  • attend parties or socialise with students

6.2.4. Exceptions

It is acknowledged that in some instances, a staff member may be a close family friend of a student’s parents or their child could be friends with a student at the school. Where this is the case, a staff member may be exempt from some (e.g. social activities), but not all, of the above restrictions. Given this, the staff member should formally disclose the nature of such relationships to their Principal or Manager.

SCS is committed to ensuring that its work is not compromised or affected by personal interest, and preventing adverse consequences that arise from conflicts of interest.

A conflict of interest exists when a reasonable person might perceive that a staff member’s personal interests could be favoured or have influence over their professional duties. Conflicts of interest may include any circumstance, whether actual, potential or perceived.

Staff must comply with the SCS Conflict of Interest Policy which sets out the requirements for identifying, disclosing and managing conflicts of interest in SCS in a timely and ethical manner.

All SCS staff members are responsible for declaring any actual, potential, or reasonably perceived conflict of interest that may arise in their work on the Conflicts of Interest & Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Register.

SCS acknowledges that the giving and receiving of gifts, benefits and hospitality is not uncommon for staff and can form part of building relationships, welcoming guests, celebrating achievements or as a token of appreciation.

The giving and receiving of a gift, benefit or hospitality must be done in an ethical manner to not only protect the reputation of SCS and its staff but to also avoid a possible perception of bias or a conflict of interest.

Staff members therefore must not solicit or accept gifts, benefits or hospitality which might reasonably be seen to, either directly or indirectly, compromise or influence their professional duties with SCS. This could occur by creating a sense of obligation or undermining a staff member’s impartiality.

All staff must comply with the SCS Gifts, Benefits & Hospitality Procedures which require staff to consider the value and purpose of a gift or benefit before making any decision to accept it. Under no circumstances, should staff members accept cash.

All gifts of a value greater than $50 must be recorded on the Conflict of Interest & Gift, Benefits and Hospitality Register and discussed with your Principal or Manager prior to acceptance.

Staff members employed on a full-time basis must seek and obtain approval in writing from their Director or Principal prior to engaging in secondary employment or business activity, including employment with a family company. Approval must be obtained annually and a record maintained by the school or Director. A copy must also be sent to the People & Culture Directorate.

Part-time and casual staff members must inform their Principal or Manager of secondary employment. They must also seek and obtain approval in writing from their Director or Principal if the secondary employment may result in actual or perceived conflict of interest (for example, that could adversely impact on the staff member’s ability to perform their duties with SCS including work health and safety concerns, or which may affect SCS’ financial position, services, clients or standing in the community). This includes working in another SCS or non-SCS school.

Staff are to use this form to seek approval of their secondary employment from their Director or Principal.

No secondary employment will be approved which involves private tutoring or external coaching of student clientele of the school where an employee works.

Approval for secondary employment is still required when staff members are on leave, including periods of leave without pay.

Staff members must use SCS’ resources economically, ethically and in conformity with policies in place to govern the use of such resources. Such resources include money, credit and fuel cards, facilities, equipment (e.g. phones, computers, ipads), vehicles, services (e.g. internet) and any other property which is owned or is the responsibility of SCS. Staff members have a duty to ensure SCS’ resources are used only for their intended purpose, are well maintained and secured against theft or misuse.

Staff members are accountable for the use of SCS work time and resources and must not use those for an outside interest, secondary employment or personal gain.

Staff members have a duty to report to SCS any improper use, waste or abuse of SCS resources.

Staff members have a duty to report to SCS any illegal or improper conduct including child abuse and pornography, corrupt or fraudulent conduct or inadequate administration or accountability.

Staff members who make such reports in good faith are entitled to seek support and protection when making such disclosures and to be notified of the action taken in relation to the disclosure.

In the first instance, reports can be made to your Principal or Manager. If a staff member is concerned that they may suffer reprisal or detrimental treatment as a result of making a disclosure, they may make a disclosure in a safe and confidential environment in accordance with SCS Whistleblower Policy.

Staff members must not divulge, either during employment or after, any confidential or personal information gained as a staff member of SCS and only use such information for its intended work-related purpose.

Staff members must respect SCS intellectual property. Anything developed or created, either alone or in collaboration with colleagues while employed at SCS, remains the intellectual property of SCS.

Staff members must also ensure they comply with copyright legislation and regulations.

SCS only provides written Statements of Service and does not permit references to be provided on behalf of the organisation. Requests to staff members for verbal or written reference may therefore only be provided in an individual’s personal capacity, and consequently must not be made on SCS or school letterhead or email.

Staff approached by external organisations to give a testimonial, in their capacity as an employee of SCS, on a product or service, are to seek the approval of their Principal or Director prior to providing the testimonial.

If you are unsure of any aspect of the Code, consult your Principal or Manager, or for more information contact the Governance team within the Governance & Legal Directorate on (02) 9568 8215 or governance@syd.catholic.edu.au.

If you require advice or wish to report a possible breach of the Code please contact People and Culture via phone on 9568 8297 or email via pcservices@syd.catholic.edu.au.

  • Policy Number: SCS2024007
  • Document Rescinds/Replaces: SCS2021007
  • Policy released: February 2024
  • Review by: February 2029
  • Policy Type: Operational
  • Policy Classification: Public
  • Approved by: Executive Director
  • Document owner: Director, Governance & Legal and Director, People & Culture