Page 5060 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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The Education (Child Safety in Schools) Legislation Amendment Act 2018 amends two acts, the Education Act 2004 and the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010, to improve protections for child safety in schools.

The bill makes clearer the roles and responsibilities of people responsible for children and young people in ACT schools. It strengthens the reporting requirements in the TQI Act and makes sure that teachers maintain a working with vulnerable people registration in order to teach. It also begins the implementation of the government’s commitments coming out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the non-government education sector and improves the safety of children and young people at risk through better information sharing across jurisdictions.

The ACT Teacher Quality Institute is responsible for making sure that teachers in our schools are suitable to teach and care for our children. It regulates and registers teachers in the ACT, builds their professional competence and standing, and enhances the community’s confidence in the teaching profession. Anyone who wants to teach in the ACT must be registered by the institute and must meet the criteria for registration in the TQI Act.

Holding a current working with vulnerable people registration is one of those criteria, assessed at initial registration and at renewal. However, the government has identified that it may be possible that a registered teacher could continue to teach if their WWVP registration expires during a period of teacher registration. This bill closes this potential gap by adding as a condition of registration that teachers maintain their WWVP registration while registered as a teacher. A condition applies through the period of teacher registration. The bill also requires teachers and their employers to inform the institute of their WWVP registration status changes, like a suspension or cancellation, or if a condition is attached to it. These improvements will help the institute to make sure that only suitable people can teach in our schools.

The institute does not investigate teachers. Employers, other government agencies and the police do that. However, the outcomes of these investigations may make it necessary for the institute to reassess a teacher’s suitability to be registered and perhaps put a condition on their registration, suspend it or even cancel it. The institute’s decisions about a teacher’s registration must be based on evidence. It needs certain information from employers, particularly if it relates to child safety and welfare. This bill makes it clear what information must be given to the institute and when it must be given.

There have been situations in the past where employers have notified the institute of a situation but not given it any or sufficient further information. In other cases, employers have finished a formal investigation and all due processes before letting the institute know about an issue, or a teacher has resigned during the investigation and the investigation is cancelled. Teacher employers have faced a range of difficulties in providing additional information, such as the intersection of privacy and industrial relations law. The bill makes clear the type of information and when teacher

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