Registered Teachers would have already received notification of the legislative changes from the Teacher Registration Board, though the mandatory reporting provision applies to all employees.
The Education and Other Legislation (Student Protection) Amendment Bill 2003 incorporated amendments to the following Acts:
Education (Teacher Registration) Act 1988
Education (General Provisions) Act 1989; and
Commission for Children and Young People Act 2000
The Education (General Provisions) Act 1989 contains a mandatory reporting requirement for all school staff who become aware of or who reasonably suspect another school-based employee has sexually abused a child attending the school (s.146B (1-7).
This requirement is designed to capture sexual abuse against current students under the age of 18 by any person undertaking paid work at a school, including supply teachers and contractors.
The Education (General Provisions) Act 1989 requires that if the allegation is of sexual abuse or suspected abuse of a current student by an employee of the school the principal or the director of the school’s governing body must report this immediately to the police ( A mandatory responsibility under 146B of the Education and Other Legislation (Student Protection) Amendment Act 2003.
The legislation states that the process for making a report is that a written report is given either to the principal or a director of the school’s governing body. This person must then provide a copy of the report to the police.
The legislation also states that people making a report under these requirements will be protected from any liability e.g. from defamation or breach of confidence. However, people making a false, malicious or vexatious report will not be protected by this immunity and may risk action for defamation, disciplinary action by their employer or disciplinary action by the Board of Teacher Registration.
Further information to assist in complying with the updated reporting procedures will be made available once the procedures are finalised.
Changes to the Commission for Children and Young People Act 2000
The Children’s Commissioner has the power to reassess a person’s suitability to work with children on the basis of fresh information, such as advice from the police that the person has been charged with an offence. If warranted, the Commissioner can cancel the person’s blue card. However this will not occur until the person has been given a copy of the information and had an opportunity to respond.
Changes to the Education (Teacher Registration) Act 1988 effective from 19th April 2004 require teachers to inform the Board of Teacher Registration if they are charged with, or convicted of, an offence (not including minor infringements which do not require a court appearance e.g. speeding tickets, parking fines) (s.42A )
Also from 2004 amendments to the Education (Teacher Registration) Act 1988 require school employing authorities to notify the Board of Teacher Registration when a teacher is dismissed or resigns as a result of the employer investigating allegations that the teacher’s conduct harmed or could have harmed a child/student. (s.44A)
Staff can be directed to the Education Queensland Web site for the information package for non-government schools in relation to these changes. The relevant Legislation is also available online.