Re-portable Conduct Policy

REPORTABLE CONDUCT

                                                            POLICY



Rationale:

St Luke’s Primary School is committed to providing a safe environment for all students and young people and takes active steps to protect them against neglect and abuse. The school maintains a comprehensive suite of child protection strategies, embedded in its Child Safety Standards, and acknowledges its responsibility to report any misconduct by an employee, volunteer or contractor to the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People. As of 1st July 2017, the Victorian Government legislated for the introduction of a Reportable Conduct Scheme (RCS) to improve how organisations respond to allegations of child abuse and child-related misconduct by employees, volunteers and contractors.


Aims:

  • The purpose of the Reportable Conduct Policy is to ensure that all St Luke’s parents, staff and students are aware of conduct which is deemed “reportable conduct” under the legislation, and understand how to make a report.


Definitions:


Child: A child or a young person enrolled as a student at the College who is under 18.


Child abuse includes: (a) any act committed against a child involving: (i) a sexual offence (ii) an offence under section 49B (2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (grooming) (b) the infliction on a child, of: (i) physical violence (ii) serious emotional or psychological harm (c) serious neglect of a child Child safety encompasses matters related to protecting all children from child abuse, managing the risk of child abuse, providing support to a child at risk of child abuse, and responding to incidents or allegations of child abuse.


Child neglect: The failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to do so) with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and wellbeing.


Child physical abuse: Generally, child physical abuse refers to the non-accidental use of physical force against a child that results in harm to the child. Physically abusive behaviours include shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, burning, strangling and poisoning. The fabrication or induction of an illness by a parent or carer (previously known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy) is also considered physically abusive behaviour.

Child protection: Statutory services that are designed to protect children who are at risk of serious harm.


Child sexual abuse: Any sexual activity between a child under the age of consent (16) and an adult or older person (ie a person five or more years older than the victim) is child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse can also be:

● any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult in a position of power or authority over them (eg a teacher); the age of consent laws does not apply in such instances due to the strong imbalance of power that exists between young people and authority figures as well as the breaching of both personal and public trust that occurs when professional boundaries are violated

● any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult family member, regardless of issues of consent, equality or coercion

● sexual activity between peers that is non-consensual or involves the use of power or coercion

● non-consensual sexual activity between minors (eg a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old) or any sexual behaviour between a child and another child or adolescent who, due to their age or stage of development, is in a position of power, trust or responsibility over the victim. Consensual sexual activity between adolescents at a similar developmental level is not considered abuse.


Mandatory Reporting: The legal requirement to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect is known as mandatory reporting. Mandated persons include teachers, nurses, police, psychologists, psychiatrists and medical practitioners.


Staff: Individual working in the school environment who are:

● directly engaged or employed by a College governing authority

● a volunteer or a contracted service provider (whether or not a body corporate or any other person is an intermediary)

● a member of the clergy


CCYP: Commissioner of Children and Young People


Head of Entity: The Principal is deemed to be the Head of Entity and is therefore responsible for reporting to the CCYP.


Implementation:

  • The Reportable Conduct Policy takes into account relevant legislative requirements within the state of Victoria, including the specific requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards as set out in Ministerial Order No. 870 and the Children Legislation Amendment (Reportable Conduct) Act 2017. The Reportable Conduct Policy applies to College staff, including College employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy.


Policy Committments:

All students enrolled at St Luke’s Primary school  have the right to feel safe and be safe. The well being of students in our care will always be our first priority and we do not and will not tolerate child abuse. We aim to create a child safe and child friendly environment where students are free to enjoy life to the full without any concern for their safety. We pay particular attention to the most vulnerable students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and students with a disability.


Reporting and Responding:


St Luke’s Primary School follows the guidelines outlined by CEM in responding to any allegation relating to Reportable Conduct.


St Luke’s Primary School records any child safety complaints, disclosures or breaches of the Child Safety Code of Conduct, and stores the records in accordance with security and privacy requirements. St Luke’s Primary School complies with legal obligations that relate to managing the risk of child abuse under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and the recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust report.


Risk Management:

St Luke’s Primary School is committed to proactively and systematically identifying and assessing risks to student safety across our whole school environment, and reducing or eliminating (where possible) all potential sources of harm. We document, implement, monitor and periodically review our risk management strategies for child safety and ensure that the strategies change as needed and as new risks arise.


Process to determine if a Reportable Offence has occurred:

  • Staff, students, parents and members of the community may inform the Principal of conduct by staff members which may fall under the Reportable Conduct notification. A ‘reportable allegation’ is made where a person makes an allegation, based on a ‘reasonable belief’, that an employee, volunteer or contractor has committed conduct that may involve reportable conduct. This includes where a reportable allegation is made against the school Principal.

NOTE: A ‘reasonable belief’ is more than suspicion. There must be some objective basis for the belief. However, it is not the same as having proof and does not require certainty


  • Where an employee is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this Reportable Conduct Policy, the Principal will contact the Industrial Relations unit of Catholic Education Melbourne. Unlike other allegations which routinely occur, St Luke’s Primary School cannot start investigating the allegation, including unnecessarily questioning the student, or talking to the person subject to the allegation before reporting.

  • The Principal must act where they have any information that leads a person to form a reasonable belief that:

*an employee has committed reportable conduct  or

*an employee has committed misconduct which may include reportable conduct (e.g. being in a classroom alone with a student with a closed door or without a line of sight to others )



The threshold for reasonable belief is lower than in other cases. In Victoria, it is an offence to engage in certain sexual behaviours against, with or in front of, a child. Many of these behaviours are reportable conduct under the Reportable Conduct Scheme (see Appendix 1) A person does not need to be charged with, or found guilty of, a sexual offence for their behaviour to be Reportable Conduct. ‘Sexual misconduct’ captures a broader range of inappropriate behaviours of a sexual nature that are not necessarily criminal.


  • If the IR unit determines this is a Police matter, the Principal immediately informs the Police and waits for further instruction.

  • If the advice suggests that it is not a police matter, the Principal interviews the students with their guardian, to gather information.

  • If a reportable offence has occurred, then the Principal must notify the CCYP within 3 days, and follow up with a report within 30 days. (see Appendix 2)

  • If the matter is deemed not reportable, but still comes under Clause 13 for misconduct or other offences, the Principal may start the process under Clause 13 of the Victorian Catholic Education Multi Enterprise Agreement 2013 (VCEMEA) for managing employment concerns. This may result in disciplinary consequences.

  • Documentation of all conversations and investigations will be filed in a hard copy folder “Reportable Offences” which resides in the Principal’s Office. Hand-written and electronic notes taken during meetings will also be kept.

  • Follow up meetings with parents, the student and /or the teacher may occur




Evaluation:


This policy will be reviewed as part of the St. Luke’s school improvement cycle.


References:

Victorian Government 2017, Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, Children’s Legislation (Reportable Conduct) Act, Victorian Government 2005, Child Wellbeing and Safety Act, Victorian Government 2017, Commission for Children and Young People, ‘About the Reportable Conduct Scheme’ - Information Sheet One, Victorian Government 2017, Commission for Children and Young People, ‘The Responsibilities of The Head Of An Organisation - Information Sheet Three, Victorian Government 2017, Commission for Children and Young People, ‘Investigation Overview’ Information Sheet Four, Victorian Government 1958, Crimes Act, Victorian Government 2006, Education and Training Reform Act, Victorian Government 2005, Education and Training Child Protection Reporting Obligations





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