A child protection allegation concerning the safety and welfare of a child can be classed as reportable allegation and/or a non-reportable allegation (alleged breach of the employment contract, code of conduct or employer policies).
If you are notified by your employer that you are the subject of an investigation into a child protection allegation, you need to take the notification seriously.
The following outlines what you must and should know, as well as what could occur if you become the subject of an investigation into a child protection allegation.
You must always maintain confidentiality regarding the investigation and the allegation details. However, this does not prevent you from contacting your IEU organiser to seek confidential advice, support and representation in the matter. To contact an organiser, you must be a union member.
You should not agree to participate in an interview/meeting to provide a response to a child protection allegation, without firstly making immediate contact with your IEU organiser for advice.
You should be aware that if you are the subject of a child protection allegation, you have the right to:
• be provided with an allegation letter together with a copy of your employers investigation process/procedures, or at the very least have the investigation process explained to you
• have the investigation conducted with regards to the principles of procedural fairness, which includes the opportunity for you to defend yourself against the allegation by providing a written response and/or attending an interview/meeting
• request the attendance of a support person at any interview/meeting
• be provided with an investigation finding letter including any disciplinary/employment action and/or support initiatives, notification/s made to NSW/ACT statutory authorities and an opportunity to provide a response
• apply for access to the employer's investigation file to assist in preparing your response when an adverse finding is made (if such a right is provided under an industrial instrument covering the member or under legislation)
• be provided with the opportunity to request an independent review of an adverse finding, disciplinary/employment action and/or support initiatives, and
• be offered appropriate employer support and confidential counselling during the whole process.
You could also be the subject of police enquiries/investigation if the child protection allegation relates to conduct that is potentially criminal.
You could upon successful application to the IEU Secretary, and subject to specific conditions being met, be referred to a solicitor for legal representation on a child protection allegation that becomes a criminal matter.
You could reduce the risk of having an allegation being made against you by familiarising yourself with and ensuring compliance to the obligations and expectations detailed in your employment contract, employer code of conduct and policies, as well as current child protection legislation.
The IEU urges members seeking confidential advice, support and representation in relation to child protection matters to contact their organiser on 8202 8900 or the toll free number (for country members) 1800 467 943. Remember, for us to help you, you need to be a member.