Presentation on theme: "Independent Schools Queensland"— Presentation transcript:
1 Independent Schools Queensland Child Protection – Recent ChangesNovember 2014This presentation is an introduction regarding the recent changes to child protection legislation and how they impact on independent schools in QueenslandIndependent Schools Queensland has also released a presentation regarding reporting sexual abuse in independent schools, particularly in light of these recent changes to child protection legislation. This presentation is available to schools from ISQ’s website.
2 Why have things changed? The Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection report (known as the Carmody Report) of June 2013Amendment of the Child Protection Act 1999 (“the CPA”)Amendment of the Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Regulations 2001 (the “Accreditation Regulations”)The 2013 Carmody Report made 121 recommendations regarding improving child safety in Queensland, of which the government has accepted 115 recommendations in full, and the remaining 6 in principle.The aim of the changes to the Child Protection Act and the Accreditation Regulations is to implement the recommendations of the Carmody Report. This will establish a consistent approach to reporting child protection concerns that more directly aligns with the legislated threshold of intervention by Child Safety
3 What are the key changes? Key changes to the CPA:Teachers now named as mandatory reporters of “reportable suspicions” to Child SafetyNew Community-Based Intake and Referral service called “Family and Child Connect”Key changes to the Accreditation Regulations:Makes reporting obligations more consistentNote: see the Fact Sheet provided by ISQ for more information on the changesUnder the CPA, teachers are now named as mandatory reporters of “reportable suspicions” to Child SafetyThere is also now an option for teachers and other school staff to refer to a secondary pathway, called a community-based intake and referral service, known as a CBIRChanges to the Accreditation Regulations make reporting obligations more consistent by changing the definition to be the same as the definition of harm under the CPA.These key changes will be explained in detail in coming slides
4 What’s staying the same? The requirements under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (“the EGPA”) are not changingProtection from liability still existsReporters’ confidentiality is still protectedThe requirements under the EGPA are not changing with regard to reporting sexual abuse: awareness of or a reasonable suspicion that a student is being abused or is likely to be abused must still be reported via your Principal to the Police.Anyone making a report both honestly and reasonably to Child Safety or the Police is not liable for giving the reportReporters’ confidentiality is still protectedIn addition, penalties still apply for not reporting sexual abuse
5 Mandatory Reporting - what is a reportable suspicion? As mandatory reporters, teachers must report “reportable suspicions” of physical and sexual abuse to Child SafetyWhat is a “reportable suspicion”?Mandatory reporters must report “reportable suspicions” to Child Safety. A mandatory reporter is defined as an approved teacher under the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 who is currently employed at a schoolA reportable suspicion is one where a teacher has a reasonable suspicion that a child has suffered, is suffering, or is at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse; and may not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from the harmThe definition of “reportable suspicion” will be broken down in the next slide
6 Mandatory Reporting – breaking it down Breaking down the definition of a reportable suspicion:Formed in the course of the teacher’s employmentRelates to significant harmThe significant harm must be caused by sexual and physical abuse onlyThe child may not have a parent willing and able to protect them from the harmReported via the Principal to Child SafetyNote: see the Fact Sheet provided by ISQ for more definitionsReportable suspicions must be formed in the course of the teacher’s employment about harm to any childThere are two tests that must be fulfilled in order to mandatorily report to Child Safety; the Significant Harm Test and the Parent Test.Firstly, the suspicion must fulfil the Significant Harm Test, meaning that the concern must relate to significant harm caused to a child. Harm is any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeingHowever, significant harm has no legislative definition. Matters to consider are provided in the CPA, such as the nature and severity of any detrimental effects to the child, the likelihood they’ll continue, and the child’s ageGenerally speaking, significant harm relates to harm caused by all types of abuse, however, for teachers mandatorily reporting, that harm must relate to sexual and physical abuse only.The suspicion must also fulfil the Parent Test. The parent test is fulfilled if a child may not have a parent willing and able to protect them from the significant harm. A “parent willing and able” has no legislative definition, however “willing” goes to choice and “able” goes to capacity. This does not mean that a teacher needs to make an investigation or determination as to whether a parent is willing and able, “reasonably suspecting” that a child may not have a parent willing and able to protect them is sufficientReports must be made via the Principal to Child Safety
7 Accreditation Regulations – what to report? Previously – all staff report all types of harm (other than sexual) via the Principal to Police or Child SafetyNow – all staff report all types of harm (other than sexual), that are significant and where the child may not have a parent willing and able to protect them, via the Principal to Child SafetyThe Accreditation Regulations have been amended to change the harm level reported and to whom it is reported in order to make it consistent with the CPA:Previously – all staff report all types of harm (other than sexual) via the Principal to Police or Child SafetyNow – all staff report all types of harm (other than sexual), that meet the Significant Harm and Parent Tests, via the Principal to Child Safety onlyIf a staff member holds a concern about harm to a child that does not meet the threshold for reporting under the child protection legislation, there is a new secondary pathway for taking action, as outlined in the following slide.
8 Family and Child Connect - what is it and when to use it? Family and Child Connect is a Community-Based Intake and Referral service. It aims to link vulnerable children and their families with appropriate local support services . Use when –You have concerns that are not of a level requiring a report to Child Safety; orYou believe that a student is likely to become in need of protection if no preventative support is providedRefer to Family and Child Connect with the family’s consentNote: see the related Fact Sheet provided by ISQA CBIR is a Community-Based Intake and Referral service. It is the secondary pathway for taking action regarding concerns about harm to a child when:a school staff member holds a concern about a student that is not of a level requiring a report to Child Safety; ora staff member considers that a student is likely to become in need of protection if no preventative support is providedNote that if the family does not consent to a referral, only the Principal holds the power to refer to Family and Child Connect without consentPlease see ISQ’s Fact Sheet on Family and Child Connect for further information
9 So what does all this mean for me at my school? Summary of reporting harm:WhoWhat abuseTestReport toLegislationStatusAll staffSexualAwareness or a reasonable suspicionSexually abused or likely to be sexually abusedPrincipal, through to PoliceEGPAUnchangedTeacherSexual and physicalSignificant harmParent willing and ablePrincipal, through to Child SafetyCPANewPhysical, psychological, emotional, neglect, exploitationAccreditation RegulationsAmendedAnyNot of a level that is otherwise reportable to Child Safety, refer with consentPrincipal, through to CBIRPrincipalNot of a level that is otherwise reportable to Child Safety, refer without consentCBIRAny member of the publicChild SafetyThis table sets out who should report what harm to whom and under what legislationIn summary, the message from this table is – if you are a school staff member of any type and you have concerns about harm of any type to a student, report it to your PrincipalNote the highlighted row in this table relating to teachers and their new mandatory reporting requirement.This table is also provided on the back of the decision trees developed by ISQ, which will be discussed later in this presentation
10 Child Protection Guide Resource Child Safety has developed a Queensland Child Protection Guide, known as the CPGThe CPG is an online decision support tool that has been designed for professionals who hold concerns about childrenChild Safety has developed a Child Protection Guide, known as the CPG. The CPG has been available for some time, but has been recently updated and released in line with the changes to the child protection legislationThe CPG will assist school staff with their decisions to report their concerns to Child Safety or refer families to a CBIRThe CPG has been developed to complement critical thinking and it does not preclude or replace any course of action a school staff member believes is appropriate
11 Here is an example of what the CPG looks like online Here is an example of what the CPG looks like online. It requires the user to read the definitions and examples on the right hand side and choose an option in response on the left, and then click “next” and go through the process until a recommended course of action is reached, such as report to Child Safety. It is suggested that you print and file a record of the recommended course of action.Use of the CPG by schools is not mandatory, although it is recommended. It will help you to make well informed and consistent decisions about harm to children. However, it definitely does not replace any course of action a school believes is appropriate.
12 ISQ Resources ISQ has developed: Child Protection Policy Child Protection Procedure Fact SheetFact SheetsDecision treesTable summarising the reporting of harmScenario activitiesTemplate formsChild Protection – Reporting Sexual Abuse under the EGPA presentationSee:ISQ has developed various materials to apply from 2015 including:A template Child Protection PolicyA Child Protection Procedure Fact Sheet to assist schools to develop their own internal ProceduresFact Sheets to compliment this presentation regarding the changes to child protection, key definitions and CBIRDecision trees for Principals, teaching and non-teaching staff to help them comply with their duties under the legislationA copy of the earlier table that summarises the reporting of harmScenario activities to work through the impact of the changes in more detailTemplate forms to use when reporting to Child Safety, Police and referring to a CBIR will be released to schools as soon as they have been negotiatedISQ has also released a presentation that that outlines the reporting of sexual abuse under the EGPA to reiterate the new and continuing obligations of school staff
13 Scenario 1Evan hasn’t brought food or money for lunch on 11 days in the last 5 weeks. Evan isn’t thin and doesn’t talk about being hungry.The school has contacted Evan’s mother who said she thought she had given Evan his lunch every day but sometimes she must forget.Evan’s mother tries hard and Evan’s father is supportive but not always able to assist due to work.The family isn’t currently getting any support. Evan’s mother has said that she would like some help.Question – how would your decision regarding what action to take change if the parents were not concerned about the situation and were not receptive to support or advice?Lets run through two scenarios to explore the Significant Harm and Parent Tests along with referrals to a CBIR. You may like to use the decision tree for Principals and the Child Protection Guide as we go through these scenarios.The first decision we need to make is whether there is a concern about harm to this student and what type of harm it may be. We know that harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse or exploitation. Given the scenario, we do have information that Evan is being harmed by his parents failure to provide him with appropriate meals and snacks on a semi-regular occasion. This points to harm being caused to Evan due to neglect, specifically, due to a lack of appropriate nutrition.In accordance with your school’s Child Protection Policy and Procedure, the first step a staff member needs to take, teaching or non-teaching, is to complete the school’s appropriate form and report the concern to the Principal.The Principal will then need to make a decision regarding whether or not to report or refer the concern to an external body and, if so, to which one – Child Safety, Police or a CBIR?In the very first instance, we know that this harm does not relate to sexual abuse, so we know we won’t need to report it to the Police under the EGPA. Lets turn our minds to whether a report to Child Safety or a CBIR is appropriate instead.In order to make this decision, the Principal needs to use the definition of harm in the Accreditation Regulations. As we remember, there are two tests to consider: 1. the Significant Harm test; and 2. The Parent Test.In considering whether or not this neglect fulfils the meaning of “significant harm”, we might consider the factors the Child Protection Act lists as relevant, such as the nature and severity of any detrimental effects to the student, the likelihood they’ll continue, and the student’s age. Given the scenario, including how often the neglect is occurring and the apparent low-level impact on Evan, the Significant Harm Test is not fulfilled.At this point, with the first test not fulfilled, we can determine that a report to Child Safety is not warranted. However, lets now consider the Parent Test and a potential referral to a CBIR.In Evan’s case, his parents seem willing to protect him from harm and but are lacking the ability, as, for whatever reason, and despite their best intentions, they're currently not protecting him from harm caused by neglect. However, the parents have indicated a willingness to accept support to improve their ability to protect Evan from the harm. Given these facts, Evan’s parents are willing but not able to protect him from harm, so the Parent Test is actually fulfilled.Therefore, knowing that harm, even of a lower level, is currently occurring, and that Evan’s parents need some assistance to build their capacity to protect him, a referral to a CBIR would be appropriate. The indication from Evan’s parents that they would accept such support means that this referral would be with consent.
14 Scenario 2Mia has come to school complaining of a sore arm and is holding her arm in an odd position.There is some bruising on Mia’s arm around her wrist and Mia flinched when she bumped the arm.Mia didn’t provide a reason for her sore arm.A staff member overheard Mia telling her friends that she got into a fight with her father.Mia lives with her mother and father.The school has tried to contact the parents but were not able to speak with them.Question – would your decision regarding what action to take differ under the old reporting requirements compared to now?Lets run through another scenario – you may like to use the decision tree for Principals and the Child Protection Guide again.Once more, we need to determine if there is a concern about harm and, if so, what type. The facts of this scenario would point to physical abuse causing harm to Mia.As previously, and in accordance with your school’s Child Protection Policy and Procedure, the first step a staff member needs to take is to complete the school’s appropriate form and report the concern to the Principal.The Principal will then need to make a decision regarding whether or not to report or refer the concern to Child Safety, Police or a CBIR.As this harm does not relate to sexual abuse, we know we won’t need to report it to the Police under the EGPA. Lets examine whether a report to Child Safety or a CBIR referral is appropriate instead.In order to make this decision, the Principal needs to use the definition of harm, which is the same under both the Accreditation Regulations and the Child Protection Act. As we remember, there are the Significant Harm and Parent Tests to considerIn assessing whether or not this physical harm fulfils the meaning of “significant harm”, we might consider the factors the Child Protection Act lists as relevant. In this situation, we have a potentially broken arm and significant bruising, so by its nature the harm is significant. The Significant Harm Test is fulfilled.Lets now consider the Parent Test.In Mia’s case, her father has allegedly caused the harm. Given the reported facts, Mia’s mother has been unable to prevent the current injury. Neither parent seems willing to engage with the school, making it impossible for the school to form a view that the parents are now able and willing to protect Mia from further harm. Given these facts, the Parent Test is also fulfilled.Therefore, with both the Significant Harm and Parent Tests fulfilled, a report to Child Safety is required. In addition, immediate medical treatment should be sought for Mia.One thing to note with this scenario:If the staff member making the report to the Principal was a teacher, they must mandatorily report the physical abuse under the CPA. They must also report it under the Accreditation Regulations. The definition of harm, including the Significant Harm and Parent Tests, is the same under both pieces of legislation, and both require a report to Child Safety. So the teacher’s act of reporting the concern to the Principal who will then report it to Child Safety – and inform the teacher of their report - discharges the teacher’s duty under the CPA and the Accreditation Regulations.If the staff member was a non-teacher, their duty to report is only under the Accreditation Regulations. Again, the definition and tests are the same, and the report still goes to Child Safety.So the actions of teaching and non-teaching staff members are the same; the definitions, tests and destination of the report are the same – they are just fulfilling different legal obligations with the same act.
15 Independent Schools Queensland E: firstname.lastname@example.org Questions? Comments?School ServicesIndependent Schools QueenslandP:E:In conclusion, please contact the School Services team if you have any questions, would like any further information or are interested in ISQ presenting a child protection training session at your schoolThank you for viewing this presentation