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Some Changes to the Western Australian Registration Standards for Non-Government Schools that Took Effect on 1 July 2022

28/07/22
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WA

For a non-government school to become and stay registered, it must comply with Part 4 of the School Education Act 1999 (WA) (Education Act). Section 159 of the Education Act allows the Minister of Education and Training to determine standards for non-government schools in relation to the matters listed in that section and prescribed by the School Education Regulations 2000 (WA). Non-government schools are therefore required to comply with the Registration Standards for Non-Government Schools (Standards) and as updated from time to time. The Department of Education publishes the Guide to the Registration Standards and Other Requirements for Non-government Schools (Guide). The current edition of the Guide is dated January 2022.

 

 

Updated Definition of “Reportable Incident”

Standard 7: Critical and Emergency Incidents requires schools to implement a critical and emergency incidents policy and procedures and to ensure that “reportable incidents” are notified to the Director General of the Department of Education (Director General).

The Western Australian Department of Education and Training published a notice on its website (DET Notification) advising of details of changes to the definition of “reportable incident” for the purposes of Standard 7 that have been approved and apply from 1 July 2022. The DET Notification includes an extract from a July 2022 edition of the Guide that has not yet been published. The DET website does not state when the revised Guide will be published.

 

Key Changes to the Categories of Reportable Incidents

The 1 July 2022 changes are limited to the definition of “reportable incidents” for the purposes of Standard 7. Standard 7.1 requires schools to have and implement a critical and emergency incidents policy and procedures. Reportable incidents are a subset of critical and emergency incidents. Under Standard 7.2, reportable incidents must be reported to the Director General. The changes amend the categories of reportable incidents.

The categories of reportable incidents for the purposes of Standard 7 from 1 July 2022, as detailed in the DET Notification, are as follows:

  1. The death of a student, staff member or visitor who is at school or during a school related activity, or following an incident at school or during a school-related activity.
  2. An actual or potential injury, illness or trauma of a student, staff member or visitor who is at school or during a school-related activity, or following an incident at school or during a school-related activity and where the incident has resulted or may result in significant impact.
  3. An incident requiring a police or other emergency services response when a student appears to have been taken or removed from the school or from a school-related activity without proper authority, or goes missing and cannot be accounted for.
  4. An incident requiring the school to be locked down or to evacuate staff and students, or reduce the number of students or staff attending, or to close for any duration for health or safety reasons.
  5. The receipt of a complaint or allegation of child abuse, including but not limited to sexual abuse, committed against a student by:
  6. a) a staff member or another student; or
  7. b) another person on the school premises or during a school-related activity; whether the abuse is alleged to have occurred recently or in the past.
  8. Issuing a formal warning, a suspension or ceasing the employment of a staff member for a breach of the school’s Code of Conduct involving suspected grooming behaviour.

The main changes to these categories of reportable incidents are outlined below.

 

Category 1

This has been amended to include the death of a visitor.

 

Category 2

This has been extended to include a requirement to report an “actual or potential” injury, illness or trauma, and to apply to visitors, consistent with Category 1. The requirement has also been extended to include injury, illness or trauma which occurs following an incident at school or a school activity. The former qualifier that incidents must be reported if they require ambulance or hospital attendance has been replaced by the term “significant impact”. Characteristics of a “significant impact” include, but are not limited to:

  • Police, Ambulance, Fire and Emergency Services, Worksafe or Child Protection and Family Support are notified or involved.
  • In respect of an actual injury, illness or trauma, the incident is considered likely to result in longer term physical or psychological impairment.
  • Normal school operations or activities are significantly disrupted or cease.
  • The school has commenced a review to mitigate future risk and/or action has been taken against students or staff to prevent imminent harm.

Further guidance is provided in relation to Category 2, including definitions of “visitor”, “significant impact” and “physical or psychological impairment”. Examples are also provided.

 

Category 3

This has been slightly reworded to improve readability.

 

Category 4 and Category 5

These remain unchanged.

 

Category 6

This now includes a requirement to report a suspension, in addition to a formal warning or dismissal of a staff member, for a breach of the school’s Code of Conduct involving suspected grooming behaviour. The word “school’s” has been inserted to clarify that the Code of Conduct being referred to is that of the relevant school. There has also been some minor rewording to improve readability.

 

Further Information

The changes also include a recognition that, in some cases, further information may come to light in relation to a reportable incident after the 48-hour window to report, and that in these cases it is open to a school to either update the original Reportable Incident Notification, or to separately submit this information to the Department.

 

What Does This Mean for Schools?

Schools should familiarise themselves with updated definition of “reportable incidents” that they are required to report to the Director General. If unsure whether or not an incident is reportable, schools are encouraged by the Department of Education to contact the Department on 9441 1983 or NGSRegulation.criticalincidents@education.wa.edu.au for advice as to whether an incident meets the threshold for reporting. Schools are also advised to consult the DET’s guidance on its website, including the revised Reportable Incident Notification Form.

 

 

 

Authors

 

Elita Bird

Elita is a Legal Content Associate at CompliSpace. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts and is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws.


Karen Zeev

Karen is a Legal Content Consultant, Child Safeguarding at CompliSpace. Karen has worked at the NSW Ombudsman and the Office of the Children’s Guardian as a Senior Investigator in the Reportable Conduct Directorate, and at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as a Senior Legal and Policy Officer where she was a key contributor to the “Redress and Civil Litigation” and “Criminal Justice” reports. Karen has a background as a commercial litigation lawyer and holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law (Hons).

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