Child protection: Know your rights and responsibilities

With a sharp rise in notifications from non-government schools in 2023, the IEU urges members to keep up to date with child protection legislation and obligations.

In NSW and the ACT, child protection legislation, aided by the Reportable Conduct Scheme, aims to ensure the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people.

The scheme requires employers to investigate and report to relevant statutory bodies in NSW and the ACT on reportable conduct allegations and reportable convictions involving employees working in child-related employment.

Additionally, compliance-related background checks such as the Working With Children Check (WWCC) in NSW and Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) registration in the ACT is a requirement for people who work in child-related employment.

In NSW, the scheme and the WWCC are administered by the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG), while in the ACT the scheme is administered by the ACT Ombudsman and WWVP registration by Access Canberra.

Committed to protecting children

The IEU is committed to child protection legislation as well as the Reportable Conduct Scheme and background checking requirements focused on the protection of children and young people in NSW and the ACT.

We are also mindful of protecting the welfare, reputation and careers of our members working in child-related employment.

As part of the union’s commitment to representing the industrial and professional interests of our members working in child-related employment in NSW and the ACT, we provide ongoing advice, support and representation to members who are the subject of:

  • an investigation by their employer into a reportable conduct allegation or other work-related allegation (including breach of an employment contract, code of conduct or employer policies)
  • an investigation by their employer into a reportable conduct allegation that could also result in an investigation by an external authority including Police which, may result in (subject to conditions) referral to a solicitor for legal advice/representation
  • a risk assessment relating to their WWCC clearance and WWVP registration.
  • Sobering statistics

    The following statistics, from the 2022-23 Annual Reports of the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian and ACT Ombudsman/Government, highlight why it’s important for people who work in child-related employment in NSW and the ACT, to join and remain financial members of the IEU.

    NSW Reportable Conduct Scheme

    2054 notifications made (34% increase)

    • 74% increase in notifications from non-government schools (102 to 177)
    • 35% of all reportable allegations were reported to NSW Police
    • 53% of allegations of a sexual nature were from education
    • largest increase in notifications were assaults (180) then allegations of a sexual nature (164)
    • 13 to 15 age group made up the largest percentage of alleged victims.

    NSW Working With Children Check

    424,203 applications were processed

    • 432 persons were automatically barred from working with children
    • 3151 persons underwent a risk assessment
    • 481 persons received interim bars whilst undergoing a risk assessment
    • 59 persons had their application refused or cancelled after a risk assessment
    • 275 employers were audited by the OCG and 264 (96%) were found to be in breach of WWCC legislation.

    ACT Reportable Conduct Scheme

    202 notifications made (48% increase)

    • 90 notifications (45%) from government and non- government schools
    • 42 persons reported to ACT Police
    • Ill-treatment (56%) was the most common allegation type reported followed by misconduct of a sexual nature (24%).

    ACT Working With Vulnerable People Registration

    57,921 applications were processed

    • 541 persons underwent a risk assessment
    • 4 persons had their registrations automatically cancelled and 14 persons were refused registration
    • 95 persons had changes made to their WWVP registration after a risk assessment.

    Here to help

    To minimise the risk of an allegation being made against you, and to assist in maintaining your WWCC clearance and WWVP registration, the IEU urges you to read and understand the obligations and expectations in current child protection legislation, as well as your employment contract, enterprise agreement and employer code of conduct and policies.

    If you have any questions or work-related issues, the union can provide advice, support and representation, while maintaining your confidentiality. Contact your organiser or call us on 8202 8900 and ask for the duty officer.

    Russell Schokman
    Policy Adviser