Cyber Attacks in Schools Surge as OAIC Releases Third Quarter Notifiable Data Breach Report

Recent international media reports have highlighted a significant increase in cyber attacks against schools, with six schools in New Zealand having their websites targeted in the first week of the term. However, this does not seem to be isolated to overseas incidents, with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) releasing their Third Quarter Notifiable Data Breach Report (OAIC Report) showing an increase in data breaches with 57 per cent attributed to malicious or criminal attacks, similar to the ones described in New Zealand.

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The Australian Student Wellbeing Framework: Safe, Supported, Included and Connected

On 19 October 2018, the Federal Minister for Education launched the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework (Wellbeing Framework). Following extensive consultation and review in 2017, the Wellbeing Framework focuses on contemporary issues facing Australian school communities and identifies ways to support schools to build learning environments where students feel safe, supported, included and connected. The Wellbeing Framework is also committed to improving educational outcomes for all Australian students and recognises that children do better when respectful relationships are developed and maintained between home and school.

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National Apology to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Made by Federal Government

On 22 October 2018, the Prime Minister apologised on behalf of the Federal Government to all survivors of child sexual abuse. The Federal Government and each state and territory have all accepted, or accepted in principle, the vast majority of the recommendations suggested by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission). The National Apology recognised that, after the investigations of the Royal Commission, not only particular institutions, but society as a whole, failed children and that everyone, including schools, needs to do better to protect the children under their care.

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Governance of a School: Misuse, Mismanagement and Funding

A recent Ombudsman review of a Victorian public school, based on three protected disclosures, investigated allegations of nepotism, conflicts of interest and financial mismanagement. The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, also released its final report on the effectiveness of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission legislation, concluding that public expectations of the not-for-profit and charity sector were of transparency, accountability and good governance. What both of these reports have in common is an expectation for schools, as not-for-profit organisations and/or charities, to prioritise good governance and minimise conflicts or perceived conflicts of interest within the management of their school.

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Addressing Liability for Institutional Child Abuse (Part Two)

This is the second part of a two-part series exploring the responses from the states and territories to the Redress and Civil Litigation Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and the current legislative developments reinforcing the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Part One addressed limitation periods generally and the proposed reforms by the Northern Territory in relation to institutional liability and a non-delegable reverse onus duty of care. Part Two addresses specific legislation from South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory to implement removal of limitation periods and institutional liability respectively.

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South Australia Child Protection Framework Starts: What are Your New Obligations?

On 22 October 2018, all schools in South Australia will need to comply with the new child protection framework, consisting of three new Acts and three new Regulations. To make matters more complex, the current Child Protection Act 1993 (SA) will be phased out gradually to enable the new framework to commence in parts. Schools should be aware that, in the first part of commencement of the framework, there are new definitions of “children at risk” and “harm”, as well as additional neglect and grooming offences, resulting in increased obligations for mandatory reporting for all teachers, employees and volunteers at the school.

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Addressing Liability for Institutional Child Abuse (Part One)

This is the first part of a two-part series exploring the responses from the states and territories to the Redress and Civil Litigation Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and the current legislative developments reinforcing the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Part One addresses the federal National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and the Northern Territory consultation paper for implementing civil litigation reforms. Part Two addresses new legislation in the ACT and SA responding to limitation of actions and civil liability.

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