The Committee of the Associated of Schools NSW
CAS Child Protection Policy
The Committee of the Associated Schools of NSW (CAS) (“the Association”) outlines its commitment to provide a child safe organisation which cultivates attitudes, behaviours and strategies in the prevention of harm to children and young people.
The purpose of this policy is to summarise the obligations required by NSW Child Protection legislation and provide guidelines as to how the Association deals with matters. Child protection is a community responsibility and individuals and Association Member Schools have a range of obligations relating to the safety, protection and welfare of the children and young people in our care.
This policy applies to any employee or volunteer engaged by a Member School for any Association activity or business function, either on a paid or unpaid basis.
Individuals and Member School bound by this Policy who fail to adhere to any term and/or condition set out below, may be in breach of their employment related obligations to the Member School, the CAS Articles of Association (1929) and ongoing Membership to the Association.
As an Association of Member Schools who have their own internal safeguarding systems and processes for responding to child protection concerns, no aspect of this policy supersedes the law of NSW and the mandatory reporting responsibilities borne by individuals engaged in child-related work.
DEFINITIONS (FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY)
Convenor of the Association means the individual appointed as General Convenor.
Disciplinary action means performance management by the Member School which may result in restricted or prohibited duties and/or termination of engagement, including summary dismissal.
Disqualified Person means a person who has been convicted, or against whom proceedings have been commenced, for a disqualifying offence outlined in Schedule 2 of the Working with Children Act. A disqualified person cannot be granted a WWCC clearance and is prohibited from engaging in child related work with the Association.
Employee means any individual engaged by a Member School, including – permanent, part time or casual staff, contractors, sub-contractors, volunteers and service providers.
ESOA means the employee or volunteer subject of an allegation.
Finding means the information discovered as the result of an investigation by the Member School or a third party engaged to conduct an investigation under the Children’s Guardian Act of NSW, reportable conduct scheme or misconduct under the CAS Code of Conduct.
Ill-treatment means, in accordance with the Children’s Guardian Act, conduct towards a child that is unreasonable and seriously inappropriate, improper, inhumane or cruel.
Member School is one of six independent schools who form CAS at any given time.
Neglect means, in accordance with the Children’s Guardian Act, a significant failure by a person with parental responsibility for the child, or an authorised carer or an employee if the child is in the employee’s care, to provide adequate and proper food, supervision, nursing, clothing, medical aid or lodging for the child that causes or is likely to cause harm to the child.
Physical assault which is non-serious means, in accordance with the Children’s Guardian Act, assault which involves minor force only and did not, and was not ever likely to, result in serious injury.
Physical assault which is serious means assault which results in a child being injured, beyond the type of injury like a minor scratch, bruise or graze; or it had the potential to result in a serious injury; or the injury suffered may be minor, but the assault is associated with aggravating circumstances (in this regard, aggravated circumstances might include associated inhumane or demeaning behaviour by an employee.
Reportable allegation means an allegation that an employee has engaged in conduct that may be reportable conduct.
Reportable conduct means, in accordance with the Children’s Guardian Act, a sexual offence, sexual misconduct, ill-treatment of a child, neglect of a child, an assault against a child, an offence under s43B (failure to protect) or s316A (failure to report) of the Crimes Act, and behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child.
Reportable conviction means a conviction (including a finding of guilt without the court proceedings to a conviction), in NSW or elsewhere, of an offence involving reportable conduct.
Sexual misconduct means, in accordance with the Children’s Guardian Act, any conduct with, towards or in the presence of a child that is sexual in nature (but may not be a sexual offence) and includes the following (non-exhaustive) examples – descriptions of sexual acts without a legitimate reason to provide the descriptions; sexual comments, conversations or communications; comments to a child that express a desire to act in a sexual manner towards a child.
Sexual offence means, in accordance with the Children’s Guardian Act, an offence of a sexual nature under NSW any state/territory, or Commonwealth law committed against, with, or in the presence of a child, such as sexual touching of a child, a child grooming offence, production, dissemination or possession of child abuse material. An alleged sexual offence does not have to be the subject of criminal investigation or charges for it to be categorised as a reportable allegation of a sexual offence.
Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) is the independent statutory authority in NSW Government that promotes and regulates the quality of child safe organisations, services and people.
Volunteer means any individual engaged by the Member School or by the Association to provide services, free of charge.
The Association complies with the following (without limitation) New South Wales Child Protection legislation:
> the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (“Care and Protection Act”);
> the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (“WWC Act”);
> the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (“Children’s Guardian Act”)
> the Crimes Act 1900 (“Crimes Act”).
- CAS RELATED DOCUMENTS
The CAS Child Protection Policy compliments a number of other Association policies including:
– CAS Code of Conduct which outlines acceptable and agreed rules and behaviours for players, parents spectators and coaches.
– Duty of Care provided by coaches of the Association, and
- COMPLIANCE AND RECORDS
The Convenor of the Association or delegate monitors compliance with this policy and securely maintains School records relevant to this policy, which includes:
- A register of Member Schools who have read and agreed to abide by this policy
- Reports of reportable conduct allegations made to the Association, the outcome of reportable conduct investigations, and/or criminal convictions.
- Annual review of the policy in line with legislation changes.
- CHILD PROTECTION
The safety, protection and welfare of children and young people is the responsibility of every employee or volunteer engaged by the Member School and/or Association and includes:
- duty of care to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to prevent harm to students which could reasonably have been foreseen; and
- duty to fulfil obligations required by child protection legislation.
- REPORTABLE CONDUCT DEFINITIONS
The Reportable Conduct Scheme is an allegation-based scheme.
The threshold for making a notification to the Office of the Children’s Guardian is that a reportable allegation has been made – that is, there is an allegation that an employee has engaged in conduct that may be reportable conduct or that they are the subject of a conviction that is considered a reportable conviction.
Reportable conduct means certain defined conduct (see below). A finding of reportable conduct is a sustained finding, which requires evidence supporting that the conduct occurred on the balance of probabilities, and that it constitutes reportable conduct (or a reportable conviction).
The threshold for making a notification of a reportable allegation is therefore lower than the threshold for making a finding of reportable conduct.
Reportable Conduct definitions
The Children’s Guardian Act defines reportable conduct as:
- a sexual offence
- sexual misconduct
- ill-treatment of a child
- neglect of a child
- an assault against a child
- an offence under s43B (failure to protect) or s316A (failure to report) of the Crimes Act; and
- behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child.
A sexual offence is an offence of a sexual nature under a law of NSW, another state/territory, or the Commonwealth committed against, with or in the presence of a child, such as:
- sexual touching of a child;
- a child grooming offence;
- production, dissemination or possession of child abuse material.
An alleged sexual offence does not have to be the subject of criminal investigation or charges for it to be categorised as a reportable allegation of a sexual offence.
The Children’s Guardian Act defines sexual misconduct to mean any conduct with, towards or in the presence of a child that is sexual in nature (but is not a sexual offence) and provides the following (non-exhaustive) examples:
- descriptions of sexual acts without a legitimate reason to provide the descriptions;
- sexual comments, conversations or communications;
- comments to a child that express a desire to act in a sexual manner towards the child, or another child.
Crossing professional boundaries comes within the scope of the scheme to the extent that the alleged conduct meets the definition of sexual misconduct. That is, conduct with, towards or in the presence of a child that is sexual in nature (but is not a sexual offence).
Each Member School of the Association is responsible for the employee or volunteers it engages in child -related work for the Association. This includes legislative requirements to participate in child protection training and annual awareness training documentation.
Individuals newly engaged by Member Schools must acknowledge having received and agree to abide by the terms of this Policy prior to commencing engagement in child-related work with the Association.
- WORKING WITH CHILDREN CHECK
The OCG is responsible for determining applications for a WWCC clearance. It involves a national criminal history check and review of reported workplace misconduct findings.
Each Member School will comply with the WWC Act and mandates that any individual engaged to provide services to children and young people which involves direct interaction, whether paid or unpaid, must hold a valid Working with Children Check Clearance.
Member School Headmasters must inform the Association immediately in writing, when an employee or volunteer engaged in child-related work for the Association no longer holds a WWCC Clearance or if they are subject to a bar. WWCC clearance holders are subject to ongoing monitoring by the OCG.
- REPORTING CHILD SAFETY CONCERNS TO THE ASSOCIATION
You must report any concern you may have about the safety, protection and/or welfare of a student to the Convenor of the Association at firstname.lastname@example.org
If the report is made to the Headmaster from a Member School and the conduct occurred during an Association activity, the Member School Head Master must inform the Association Convenor immediately.
The OCG can provide guidance on who the relevant Entity is to conduct the investigation.
- SHARING INFORMATION
- MANDATORY REPORTING
The Care and Protection Act provides for mandatory reporting of children at risk of significant harm. A child is a person under the age of 16 years and a young person is aged 16 years or above but who is under the age of 18.
Under the Care and Protection Act, mandatory reporting applies to persons who:
- In the course of their employment, deliver services including health care; welfare, education, children’s services and residential services, to children; or
- holds a management position in an organisation, the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of services to children including health care, welfare, education, children’s services and residential services.
- All employees or volunteers engaged by Member School’s are mandatory reporters.
A mandatory reporter must take steps to satisfy themselves, where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child (under 16 years of age) is at risk of significant harm (ROSH), that a report to the Department of Communities & Justice (DCJ) has been submitted as soon as practicable. The report must include the name, or a description, of the child and the grounds for suspecting that the child may be at risk of significant harm.
In addition, the Association or a Member School representative may choose to make a report to the DCJ where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a young person (16 or 17 years of age) may be at risk of significant harm and there are current concerns about the safety, protection and welfare of the young person.
- CAS PROCESS FOR MANDATORY REPORTING
Mandatory reporters should use the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) to help decide whether a child is suspected to be at Risk of Significant Harm (ROSH) and a report to the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 should be made.. The MRG is a Structured Decision Making (®SDM) tool intended to complement mandatory reporters’ professional judgement and critical thinking.
However, if there is an immediate danger to the student the concern should be brought to the attention of the NSW Police and/or the Child Protection Helpline (13 21 11) directly and then advised to the next most senior member of staff at the Member School and the Convenor as soon as possible.
- CRIMINAL OFFENCES
In 2018 the Crimes Act was amended to adopt recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The new offences are designed to prevent child abuse, and to bring abuse that has already occurred to the attention of the Police.
FAILURE TO PROTECT OFFENCE (CRIMES ACT)
Any person engaged by a Member School or directly by the Association, will commit an offence if they know or reasonably suspect that another person poses as serious risk of committing a child abuse offence and they have the power to reduce or remove the risk, and they negligently fail to do so either by acts and/or omissions.
This offence is targeted at those in positions of authority and responsibility working with children who turn a blind eye to a known and serious risk rather than using their power to protect children.
FAILURE TO REPORT OFFENCE (CRIMES ACT)
Any person engaged by a Member School or directly by the Association will commit an offence if they know, believe, or reasonably ought to know, that a child abuse offence has been committed and fail to report that information to NSW Police without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse may include where the adult has reported the matter to the Convenor or the Head Master or his delegate of a Member school and is aware that the Head Master or his delegate reported accordingly.
SPECIAL CARE RELATIONSHIPS (CRIMES ACT)
It is a crime in NSW for any person engaged by a Member School or directly by the Association to have a sexual relationship with a student or where there is a special care relationship. The Act provides that a young person is under an adult’s special care if the adult is engaged by a Member School at which the young person is a student; or has an established personal relationship with the young person in connection with the provision of religious, sporting, musical or other instruction.
The offence will protect children aged 16-17 years from inappropriate sexual contact with persons engaged by a Member School or directly by the Association and others who have special care of the child.