Child protection frequently asked questions

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all staff members, students and affiliates.

Why does the University need this policy?

The University is required to comply with the following legislation:
o Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000
o Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
o Commission for Children and Young People Act (1998)
o Freedom of Information Act 1989
o Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974

The policy refers to students and affiliates in "child related employment", but students undertaking award courses and affiliates (for example, volunteers or honorary appointees) are not paid and are therefore not employed by the University.

This is correct, students and affiliates are not University employees, however child protection legislation defines all work involving children that satisfies certain criteria (see FAQ below) as “child-related employment”. So “employment” here is not used in the traditional sense of the employment relationship between employer and employee.

What criteria have to be met for the position, appointment or placement to be considered child-related employment?

The position, appointment or placement must meet all 4 of the criteria below:

  1. primarily involve contact with children; and
  2. involve direct contact with children; and
  3. where that contact is not directly supervised; and
  4. where the activity takes place in a prescribed work setting, which may include:
    o in hospitals where children are patients
    o in cultural, recreational or sporting bodies or other associations having a significant child involvement
    o in entertainment venues where the clientele is primarily children
    o the private tuition of children
    o the direct provision of child health services
    o the provision of counselling or other support services for children
    o overnight camps for children.

What age group is considered to be a child?

Under 18 years of age.

What about lecturers and tutors who are teaching University students who are under 18 years of age. Do they have to undergo a child protection check?

No, University students being taught tertiary studies are specifically excluded under child protection legislation. Therefore lecturers who are teaching students who are less than 18 years of age are not required to undergo child protection checks.

Do staff members who have the responsibility for the supervision of a staff member who is less than 18 years of age have to undergo a child protection check?

No, as these supervisors would not satisfy the requirements of “child-related employment” unless the supervision of a staff member who is less than 18 years of age is the primary function of the role to which the supervisor is employed.

In which cases might child protection requirements apply at the University?

The following may be examples of child-related employment at the University:

o Staff, students, affiliates in the Faculty of Medicine or Health Sciences in clinical placements;
o Students on school practicum and staff supervising school practicum;
o Staff or students involved in science education tours or residential programs;
o Staff, students or affiliates involved in research projects with children;
o Staff (including student casuals) involved in marketing activities with children;
o Staff involved in the private tuition of children, for example, at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

What is a prohibited person?

A person convicted of (or attempting or conspiring to commit) offences including a serious sex offence; the murder of a child or a child-related personal violence offence; indecency offences punishable by imprisonment for 12 months or more; possession, distribution or publication of child pornography; as well as a Registrable Person under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000.

All individuals who are in child-related employment at the University are legally required to make it known to the University if they have become a prohibited person. It is a criminal offence for a staff member to fail to disclose this information to the University with penalties of either a fine or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

When does an Applicant Declaration and Consent need to be completed and when does a Volunteer/Student Declaration need to be completed?

All students, staff and affiliates in child-related employment are required to declare that they are not a prohibited person. Staff are required to complete the Applicant Declaration and Consent, which serves two purposes - to declare they are not a prohibited person and to provide consent for a background check to be completed. Students and affiliates are required to complete the
Volunteer/Student Declaration. Students who have placements in NSW Health or the Department of Education will also need to comply with their child protection requirements.

When casual staff are re-engaged in child-related employment do child protection checks have to be redone?

Checks are not required again provided that a Applicant Declaration and Consent and a satisfactory Working With Children Background check have been completed; and the person is being re-engaged no more than 12 months since the previous engagement; and is being employed in the same kind of child-related employment. For example, checks are not required to be re-done in the following scenarios:

o Casual Education Officers working in the Education and Public Programs of the University Museum are typically engaged from January to December each year and then re-engaged the following year in January;
o Lecturers in the Faculty of Education who are re-engaged each semester;
o A Casual Administrative staff member who is employed from March to June 2009 and then re-engaged in May 2010 in the same child-related position.

How long does it take to have the checks completed and what happens if the person is required to commence urgently?

The turnaround time from the Child Protection Screening Agency is usually 48 hours. If an immediate start is required, the person may commence in the position but without the child-related duties and/or increased supervision. The Applicant Declaration and Consent must have been completed in all cases.

Most students, staff and affiliates of the University are not involved in child-related employment, how is this policy relevant to them?

It is the obligation of all students, staff and affiliates to report any allegation of, or conviction for, child abuse in the course of their engagement or enrolment at the University. Allegations of child abuse must, in the first instance, be reported to the Director, HR (staff and affiliates) or the Registrar (students) and the University will investigate all allegations accordingly.

What happens to the records of child protection checks and who has access to them?

These documents are maintained according to University Recordkeeping procedures and access is strictly limited to appropriate HR staff.