Page 5061 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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employers are lawfully required to disclose information about teacher conduct to the institute and makes clear that employers have a positive obligation to do so.

There are several events or circumstances set out in the bill which trigger an obligation for employers to inform the institute, such as a decision to start a formal investigation of a teacher; an employer taking disciplinary action against a teacher; an employer removing, cancelling or ending the access of an approved teacher to casual employment; or a teacher resigning during a formal investigation or preliminary factual inquiry. The bill also allows the institute to ask for more information from employers about a notification event if need be. This supports the institute in making a robust and fair decision about a teacher’s registration.

Such decisions are serious and can considerably impact a teacher’s employment and career. A teacher cannot work as a teacher in Australia or in New Zealand while their registration is suspended, and if it is cancelled they cannot work as a teacher again. The institute must have sufficient information to exercise its regulatory functions and make decisions that are robust and evidence based, and to extend procedural fairness to affected people.

The bill also amends the Education Act 2004 in response to the findings of a number of recent inquiries and reviews. The first amendment starts this government’s implementation of the education relevant recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The safety and welfare of children must be given a high priority. Children and young people are entitled to special protection because of their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. When a parent entrusts their child to someone else’s care, particularly an institution like a school, they should have confidence that there are robust protections in place to safeguard their child. The government is committed to ensuring that, and this bill shows our commitment.

The government accepted, or accepted in principle, 19 recommendations relating to non-government schools. Through the bill, the government is introducing arrangements to require the non-government education sector to achieve these recommendations. The bill provides for this by allowing regulations to supplement the criteria for registration as a non-government school and the conditions for maintaining registration. Using regulations for this purpose will allow for ongoing implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations over time and allow for sustained engagement and participation by the non-government sector as implementation occurs. The government will also have the opportunity to integrate into the ACT framework national approaches once developed.

Initially introduced as a schedule to the bill, the regulations make clear that non-government schools are required, as a criterion and condition of registration, to work with the government to implement the royal commission’s recommendations. The government acknowledges that implementation of the recommendations is a collaborative process that will draw on the expertise of the non-government school sector and involve active engagement and participation over time. More detailed requirements for the adoption of regulations will be developed in collaboration with the non-government education sector.

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