On 19 November 2015 Carroll & O'Dea hosted a Charity Law
Legal Seminar attended by representatives of Charities and Not for
profit organizations, legal practitioners and public sector
employees. The NSW Children's Guardian Kerryn Boland, addressed
the topic of "Working With Children Checks: What Can Go
Ms Boland stressed that in and of itself the Working With
Children Check (WWCC) is not enough to stop abuse. Instead,
employers should be focused on creating "child safe
systems" which encompass recruitment procedures, written
standards, child safe policies put into practice, situational
prevention, governance and leadership.
Ms Boland acknowledged that there is sometimes a divergence
between legislative requirements and individual policies
organisations put into place regarding the WWCC. While the law does
not require an individual to have a WWCC clearance before
commencing employment in "child-related
work" (only to have submitted an application for
a WWCC), some employers mandate a WWCC clearance as a
pre-employment condition. Furthermore, the NSW legislation
currently exempts "a parent or close relative of a
child" who volunteers "in activities for the
child's school, early education service or other educational
institution... or a team, program or other activity in which the
child usually participates or is a team member" from
being required to obtain a WWCC. However, some schools require all
parents who accompany their children on school excursions to have a
Ms Boland was appointed as the NSW Children's Guardian in
2005. The Children's Guardian is an independent government
agency offering adoption services as well as foster care and
children's advocacy. It began administering WWCC's in June
2013, at the recommendation of the Royal Commission into
Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, "to
strengthen the protection children receive through Working With
Children Checks in Australia."
The Child Protection (Working With Children) Act 2012
(NSW) requires individuals performing "child-related
work" to have a WWCC. To date, Ms Boland reported, the NSW
Children's Guardian has processed 1.2 million checks and
extrapolates that 1 in 4 people in NSW will one day have a WWCC. Of
those 1.2 million people who have applied for the Check, 1,000
people have been banned from working with children. Individuals are
banned from working with children, if they have committed a
"disqualifying offence". Once an individual has
received a clearance to work with children, they continue to be
monitored by the NSW Children's Guardian.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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