Welcome to 2023, a year in which "ChatGPT" has entered the vocabulary of school leaders and teachers. Many of them have already written a great deal, sometimes with the help of ChatGPT itself, about the possibilities and challenges artificial intelligence programs bring to education. With some trepidation, we seek in this issue of the Notes to address the legal risks associated with their use.

Our second article considers how school leaders respond to allegations of sexual abuse when this involves balancing obligations of confidentiality and privacy, defamation, the duty of care and more with a public relations strategy.

Our third article examines the recent changes to theSex Discrimination Act 1984 which have placed a new positive duty on schools to take 'reasonable and proportionate' measures to eliminate hostile workplace environments, including sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.

Finally, the concerns over vaping are growing, prompting Cancer Council NSW to pioneer a research project to arm the community with essential information surrounding e-cigarettes. We outline the lines of enquiry in this research project and how schools can practically carry out their duty of care to children and young people.

As always, enjoy the read!

Warm regards,


The ChatGPT takeover: the potential use (and misuse) of AI in education

Since the launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, it is clear that AI technologies and computer-generated works (including content produced by ChatGPT) are here to stay. While educators will be debating the pros and cons of using this new technology in education for some time, there are several legal issues to be considered, including intellectual property and employment, misleading and deceptive conduct, and privacy. We explore them here .

Balancing confidentiality obligations with transparency

How do school leaders respond to allegations of sexual abuse? Does the obligation of confidentiality prevail over a PR strategy based on open and transparent communication? When a crisis involves responding to allegations of child abuse, school leaders must keep on top of their mandatory reporting requirements, obligations of confidentiality and privacy, the duty of care to all involved, communications with the school community and beyond, and the potential to defame others. In this article< , we look at how to balance (or juggle) all this.

Changes to the Sex Discrimination Act: the introduction of a positive duty to eliminate sexual harassment and discrimination

Changes to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 in late 2022 have placed a new positive duty on independent schools to take 'reasonable and proportionate' measures to eliminate hostile workplace environments, including sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. In this article , we set out and discuss the reasonable and proportionate measures that could be taken by schools to ensure they meet the duty.

Vaping: An emerging crisis

In a recent article on the Cancer Council NSW website, Vaping: An emerging crisis, we read:

Although tobacco use has declined in Australia over recent decades, the recent rise of e-cigarette use (vaping) risks undermining this progress.

Because it's still so new, e-cigarette use among young people in Australia is still not well understood. To address this gap, Cancer Council NSW researchers have launched Generation Vape – a national level research project that's the first of its kind. In Generation Vape, our researchers aim to examine awareness, perception, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours around e-cigarettes; they hope to inform future advocacy and policy approaches.

Among the project's early findings are:

  • Addiction to vaping among young people is growing.
  • Young people are finding it easier to access vapes – "Nearly 80% of teenage users who took part in our research considered it 'easy' to access a vape, showing that young people in NSW can readily access harmful vaping products"

While Cancer Council NSW is calling on the government to protect children and young people from nicotine addiction by phasing out the retail sale of apparent "non-nicotine" e-cigarettes and ensuring nicotine containing e-cigarettes can only be accessed by people with a prescription, schools must do their bit too. The practical steps set out in David Ford's article Does a school have a duty of care to students to prevent harm to them from vaping? published late last year can guide your response to this "emerging crisis".

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.