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Child Protection Policy

Purpose

Scope

Principles

Policy statements

Policy ownership and support

Definitions

Approval information

PDF version

References

1. Purpose

1.1 The Child Protection Policy (the policy) sets out UTS's commitment to the safety, protection and wellbeing of all children while on campus or involved in university activities. UTS has a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation and abuse and recognises children's vulnerability to exploitation. This is in line with the university's values.

1.2 The policy specifies reporting requirements where a complaint has been made of child exploitation, abuse, harassment, neglect or inappropriate behaviour while undertaking child-related work at or for UTS and addresses the university’s responsibilities under the:

2. Scope

2.1 This policy is applicable to all staff, students and affiliates.

2.2 This policy does not apply to:

3. Principles

3.1 It is against the law to engage anyone in child-related work without a Working with Children Check (WWCC). UTS will maintain its registration with the Office of the Children's Guardian.

3.2 UTS has a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation, abuse and any reportable conduct (as defined in the Children's Guardian Act). For the purposes of this policy, this also includes the possession, production and/or distribution of child pornography or any other child exploitation material.

3.3 UTS will not knowingly engage, directly or indirectly, with any individual or organisation, in or outside Australia, who poses an unacceptable risk to children. UTS will report any such abuses. This includes provisions in relation to modern slavery reporting (refer Eradicating modern slavery and the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cwlth)).

3.4 UTS acknowledges the collective role that all staff, students and affiliates play in ensuring child protection and safety. UTS seeks to ensure the necessary protections are in place for those engaging in child-related work, as well as for the reporting of alleged abuses. This is in addition to the normal behavioural standards and expectations outlined in the Code of Conduct, the Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy and the Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy.

3.5 UTS will identify any roles or activities that involve child-related work. Supervisors and managers have a pivotal role in understanding any need or potential need for their direct reports to hold a WWCC.

3.6 UTS acknowledges that child-related work may take place in a face-to-face setting or online.

3.7 Children of staff, students, affiliates and visitors may be on campus from time to time. While on campus, these children do not fall under the responsibility of the university. They are considered to be in the care of the parent, teachers, school coordinator or other carer.

3.8 Research and other educational activities must explicitly outline any interaction with or impact on children as part of the relevant ethics clearance processes. Consultation with the Legal Unit may also be required.

3.9 UTS acknowledges Australia's role as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the rights and obligations outlined under this convention.

3.10 Those under the scope of this policy are encouraged to report any concerns about the safety and welfare of children arising during the course of their work and/or study.

4. Policy statements

Child-related work and a Working with Children Check

4.1 All staff, students and affiliates who have direct contact with children and/or undertake child-related work in the course of their duties at UTS must undertake any checks, clearances, training or development required by the university or any external organisation (as appropriate).

4.2 Individuals engaging in child-related work must have a Working with Children Check (WWCC) via the Office of the Children's Guardian. WWCCs may be transferred between jobs and must be renewed every five years.

4.3 Where the requirement to undertake child-related work is known before employment or enrolment, it must be included in either the position description or occur as part of the pre-employment or pre-enrolment process.

4.4 Individuals must apply for (or renew) a WWCC, and receive clearance by the Office of the Children's Guardian, before interacting with children. Where possible this should be undertaken before starting work or study at UTS. Child-related work that emerges after employment or enrolment has started must be managed by the appropriate university manager or supervisor. Further information is available at Child protection and Obtain a working with children check (Staff Connect).

4.4 Examples of child-related work activities at UTS may include but are not limited to:

  • sporting and cultural events, and summer schools or entertainment activities run by UTS and involving children
  • community events, open days, promotional, media or marketing events and campaigns
  • counselling service providers and medical health practitioners or clinicians where a patient is not a student, is under 18 and is not accompanied by a parent
  • outreach programs and high school tutorial schemes on campus or online
  • research activities, projects or fieldwork that include children or child-related work (see also Research Policy)
  • student or staff placements at schools, education or childcare centres, and
  • interactions with children in student residences.

Outcomes of a Working with Children Check

4.5 If the outcome of a WWCC is a clearance to work with children, the cleared individual will still be subject to ongoing monitoring by the Office of the Children's Guardian for the five-year life of the clearance.

4.6 If the outcome of a WWCC is a bar against working with children, the barred individual will be prohibited from engaging in any child-related work for or on behalf of UTS. The individual will also be prohibited from engaging in any other activity that may include interactions with children. This should be done by either the manager or the People Unit immediately.

4.7 The People Unit (on behalf of UTS) may apply for, or verify, workers' and volunteers' WWCC or application numbers online. UTS will not allow any individual who has been barred from working with children by a WWCC to undertake any child-related work.

4.8 Any staff, student or affiliate already engaged by UTS for child-related work, who, in the course of their appointment, subject to ongoing or special review, is barred by the Office of the Children's Guardian will be immediately suspended from any child-related work or any other work as determined by the university, pending further investigation.

4.9 Anyone engaging in research activity that is child-related must apply for a WWCC and receive clearance before applying for ethics approval (outlined in the Research Policy) and before starting any interaction with children as part of their research project.

4.10 The Office of the Children’s Guardian maintains reporting responsibilities under Division 3 of the Children’s Guardian Act. This is separate from and outside the university’s obligations under the Act and the Regulation.

UTS responsibilities and record management

4.11 Managers, supervisors and responsible academic officers must be aware of the role of the employer as outlined by the Office of the Children’s Guardian, particularly when a WWCC is needed. The UTS Working with Children Check assessment tool may be used by staff to determine whether a WWCC is required.

4.12 Each local area must identify roles that involve child-related work (refer to the WWCC assessment tool). The requirement for a WWCC must then be included in the relevant position description, contract of employment, enrolment form, etc.

4.13 Each local area is responsible for keeping accurate records of who is required to have a WWCC, who has a current WWCC, verifying the WWCC numbers, and reminding staff, students and affiliates to renew their WWCC (every five years). This information should be tracked on the ‘clearance table' available on the WWCC assessment tool.

4.14 Clearance tables must be signed by the relevant director and submitted to Client Services and Support (People Unit) annually, at a time determined and published by the Director, People. This information is:

  • collated and recorded on Content Manager in line with the Records Management Policy
  • provided to the Provost annually to support compliance assurances provided to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

4.15 Central and local records should be maintained in line with the Records Management Policy, the requirements of the Office of the Children's Guardian and any guidance provided by the People Unit from time to time.

Child protection risk management

4.16 UTS reserves the right to require all staff, students and affiliates to attend child protection training and/or awareness sessions even when not engaged directly in child-related work, as outlined in the Act and the Regulation, as part of a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation and abuse.

4.17 The Code of Conduct, the Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy and the Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy clearly outline expectations of behaviour. Any instance of a staff, student or affiliate using information and communications technology facilities to access, produce or distribute child pornography or exploitation materials (including via social networks or any other means of online communication) will be dealt with under the Information Security Policy.

Reporting child abuse and protection breaches

4.18 Staff, students and affiliates should report any suspected child exploitation, neglect and/or abuse to their manager, supervisor or responsible academic officer (hereafter supervisor), even where the allegation may seem trivial, minor or lacking evidence. Further information is available at Child protection (Staff Connect).

4.19 On receiving a report, supervisors must immediately:

  • remove or minimise any obvious risk to children or students where possible (while protecting the rights of the employee), and
  • report any allegations of child exploitation and/or abuse by staff or affiliates to the Director, People, or
  • report any allegations of child exploitation and/or abuse by students to the Director, Student Services.

4.20 Where an allegation is made of abuse perpetrated by a student, this should be managed by the Director, Student Services. Where an allegation is made of abuse perpetrated by a student who is also a staff member, this should be managed by the Director, People, with support from the Director, Student Services and the Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion) as appropriate. The General Counsel and/or the Head of Security and Emergency Management may be consulted, as required, in the management of a complaint.

4.21 The Director, Student Services and the Director, People are authorised to receive confidential information from the Office of the Children's Guardian. This may occur if an individual's WWCC status has changed or there is an investigation by the Office of the Children's Guardian of a reportable allegation.

4.22 Any breaches of this policy will be managed in line with the Code of Conduct, Enterprise agreements, the Student Rules and the Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy. All alleged breaches of this policy or relevant legislation will be treated confidentially during the investigation.

4.23 The Director, Student Services or the Director, People may refer the matter to a relevant statutory authority and/or agency where breaches of relevant legislation may be evident.

Mandatory reporting obligations and reportable conduct

4.24 Some students, staff, affiliates and visitors may have mandatory reporting obligations under the Reportable conduct scheme administered by the Office of the Children's Guardian under the Children's Guardian Act.

4.25 Individuals who are involved in child-related work have mandatory reporting obligations in relation to child abuse and child welfare breaches (including those who work in health care, welfare, education, children's services, residential services, law enforcement or university management with responsibility for these areas). They must report to the Office of the Children's Guardian as soon as possible, in addition to any reporting via this policy.

4.26 The Director, Student Services or the Director, People may have further obligations to report suspected child abuse, exploitation or risk of significant harm to Family and Community Services NSW, NSW Child Protection Helpline and/or NSW Police.

4.27 Staff, students and affiliates who are unsatisfied with UTS's response to a report of child protection breach are encouraged to seek information and advice from the Office of the Children's Guardian.

5. Policy ownership and support

5.1 Policy owner: The Provost is responsible for policy enforcement and compliance, ensuring that its principles and statements are observed. The Provost is also responsible for annual reporting in line with normal compliance requirements and the approval of any associated university level procedures.

5.2 Policy contact: The Director, People is the contact responsible for the day-to-day implementation of this policy for staff and acts as a primary point of contact for advice on fulfilling its provisions. The Director, People is responsible for ensuring that UTS is registered with the Office of the Children's Guardian.

The Director, Student Services acts as a primary point of contact for advice on managing allegations against students.

The General Counsel and the Head of Security and Emergency Management may be consulted, where necessary, to support the effective implementation of this policy in line with the university’s obligations.

The General Counsel and the Director, People should be notified in the event a UTS child-related worker becomes barred in line with the requirements of the Office of the Children's Guardian.

5.3 Others

  • Managers, supervisors and responsible academic officers have an important role in understanding when a WWCC may be required by staff, students or affiliates under their supervision.
  • All staff, students and affiliates should work collaboratively to meet the university's zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation and abuse.
  • All staff who are guiding students through this process should work with relevant supervisors and the People Unit as necessary to ensure the necessary WWCC are in place. Further information is available at Child protection (Staff Connect).
  • Staff, students, affiliates and visitors with mandatory reporting obligations should be aware of their responsibilities under the Children's Guardian Act.
  • Client Services and Support, under the Director, People, is responsible for managing and publishing staff guidance on child protection on Staff Connect.

6. Definitions

The following definitions apply for this policy. These are in addition to the definitions outlined in Schedule 1, Student Rules.

Adult means any person over the age of 18 years old.

Affiliate is defined in the Code of Conduct.

Child (or children) means any person under the age of 18 years old.

Child-related work means any work requiring face-to-face contact with a child or children, as outlined in section 6 of the Act and part 2 of the Regulation. Section 6(2)(g) of the Act excludes the educational activities conducted at UTS from child-related work.

Staff is defined in the Code of Conduct.

Unacceptable risk means a high-level risk, identified by a risk evaluation, as unacceptable. The only appropriate risk treatment is avoiding the risk by deciding not to initiate. (See the Risk Management Policy and Procedures for more details.)

Working with Children Check means the process of screening individuals engaged in child-related work as managed by the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian. Further information is available at Obtain a working with children check (Staff Connect).

Working with Children Check clearance means an authorisation to engage in child-related work from the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian. This is further outlined in the Act.

Visitor is defined in the Campus Policy.

Approval information

Policy contact Director, People
Approval authority Council
Review date 2023
File number UR20/1770
Superseded documents Child Protection Policy 2015 (UR15/1171)

Version history

Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Council (COU 20-6/133) 25/11/2020 08/01/2021 New policy.
1.1 Director, Governance Support Unit (Delegation 3.14.1) 19/05/2021 17/06/2021 Changes to reflect new organisational structure of the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion.
1.2 Deputy Director, Corporate Governance (Delegation 3.14.2) 22/02/2022 22/02/2022 Minor change to reflect portfolio realignment under Fit for 2027 project and general updates.

PDF version

Child Protection Policy (PDF 204KB)

References

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) Reporting Procedures

Child protection (Staff Connect)

Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW)

Child Protection (Working with Children) Regulation 2013 (NSW)

Children's Guardian Act 2019 (NSW)

Code of Conduct

Course Related Work Experience Vice-Chancellor's Directive and Procedures for Reporting Obligations to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

Enterprise agreements

Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy

Eradicating modern slavery

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 (NSW)

Information Security Policy

Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cwlth)

NSW Office of the Children's Guardian

Obtain a working with children check (Staff Connect)

Research Policy

Risk Management Policy and Procedures

Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child