Public Information (Part One): Are Schools Keeping their Communities in the Dark?

This is the first part of a two-part series exploring the kinds of information schools must and should make publicly available. Part One focuses on schools’ key legal obligations in this area, which are expanding due to increased focus on transparency. Part Two will focus on the key issues faced by schools when determining what to publish, and proposes some practical solutions.

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Mobile Devices in Schools: Is Banning Connected Devices the Key?

The New South Wales Education Department will look to a French schoolyard ban on connected devices as it considers age restrictions­ on smart phones, iPads and even digital watches in the classroom, as part of a landmark review. But, despite incidences of distraction in the classroom, social isolation and cyber bullying, experts have said that mobile phones can also play a part in supporting the digital literacy of students in schools, not to mention their health and welfare outside the classroom.

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Whistleblower Protections: Complementary to a Child Safe Culture

Whistleblower protections in a school can be the first of many steps that are complementary to creating a child safe culture. While mandatory reporting of child abuse is mandated by law in all Australian jurisdictions, schools with a formal whistleblower policy or program can also create the cultural change required to keep children safe, with an environment that encourages and welcomes staff to make disclosures about any kind of inappropriate behaviour.

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Catholic Church Responds to Royal Commission: National Standards and Addressing Celibacy, Conviction and Confession

Almost nine months after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) handed down its findings, the Catholic Church has delivered its formal reply. Of particular interest is the response of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) to the Royal Commission recommendations addressing celibacy, convictions for child sexual abuse and the sacrament of confession.

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Child Safe Frameworks Get More Complicated Post Royal Commission: It’s Time to Take Action Now

Since the release of the Royal Commission’s final report, there was hope for a more unified and perhaps national approach to child safety and child safe standards frameworks. This will most likely occur in the future, however, in the short term, the multitude of frameworks and standards/principles is only becoming more complex.

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The Teacher-Student Relationship: Where Do the Boundaries Lie?

Teachers are expected to uphold high standards of integrity, accountability and professionalism, and to maintain professional boundaries in their interactions with students; breaches of professional boundaries may also contravene the child protection obligations of teachers and schools.

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School Violence: The Delicate Balance Between Staff Safety and Student Duty of Care (Part Two)

Staff and student wellbeing is a shared responsibility across the school community. Violence perpetrated by parents and by students only serves to undermine the school’s duties to staff (for a safe and healthy workplace) and to students (for a safe and supportive environment where they can thrive).

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Photographing and Filming Students: Is Your School Getting it Right?

Photographing or filming students at school or at weekend sport has become a highly sensitive issue. With the rise in online abuse such as sexting and cyber bullying, schools have been required to rethink and reinforce protections for their students online, including the consent of students and their parents when taking photographs or producing videos at school events. But has your school maintained the right balance between privacy and common sense when photographing and filming students?

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