The information here is intended to enable a person, other than an employee of Wentworth Shire Council, to give a report to Council’s General Manager as Head of Entity about a reportable allegation or conviction considered to be a reportable conviction involving a Wentworth Shire Council worker.  Its intent also is to advise what is reportable, and to inform as to the processes that take place once a report is made.

Any reference to a ‘worker’ for these purposes includes employees, Councillors, contractors or sub-contractors who are required to hold a Working with Children Check for the purpose of their engagement with Council, work experience participants, labour hire, volunteers and student placements.

Most people who work with children have never and will never harm a child.  The Reportable Conduct Scheme responds to a minority of matters where a child has or may have been harmed by a person who works with them or works with children.

Harm or abuse is a term used to refer to different types of harm or maltreatment.  It may take the form of any of the following:

  • Psychological abuse Includes bullying, threatening and abusive language, intimidation, shaming and name calling, ignoring and isolating a child, and exposure to domestic and family violence.
  • Physical abuse Includes physical punishment such as pushing, shoving, punching, slapping and kicking, resulting in injury, burns, choking or bruising.
  • Sexual abuse Includes the sexual touching of a child, grooming, and production, distribution or possession of child abuse material (often known as pornography).
  • Grooming The process where a person manipulates a child or group of children, and sometimes those looking after them, including parents, carers, teachers and leaders. They do this to establish a position of trust so they can then later sexually abuse the child.
  • Misconduct Inappropriate behaviour that may not be as severe as abuse, although could indicate that abuse is occurring and would often be in breach of Council’s ‘Safeguarding Children Standards of Behaviour’ set out in Council’s Child Safety Policy, including showing a child something inappropriate on a phone, having an inappropriate conversation with a child or an adult sitting with a child on their lap.
  • Lack of appropriate care Includes not providing adequate care and proper supervision, nourishment, clothing, shelter, education or medical care.

All complaints or allegations that fit within the above descriptors should be reported.  This includes:

  • disclosure of abuse
  • unacceptable behaviour around children and young people
  • suspicion of abuse or harm to a child or young person.

When any employment-related child protection concern is raised about a Council worker, the Head of Entity will consider whether it constitutes a reportable allegation or a reportable conviction.

An allegation of harm or abuse may be reported verbally, by email or by letter.

Where a child, their parent or family member, or a community member alleges that a Council worker has harmed or ill-treated a child or young person, the Council worker first made aware of the allegation through any of the above means will immediately report the information to a nominated manager /team leader.  The following managers / team leaders within Council are responsible for taking reports:

  • Manager, Human Resources;
  • Council’s Work Health & Safety Officer;
  • Team Leader, Library Services; and
  • Team Leader, Visitor Information.

The people occupying these positions act as intermediaries, reporting to the General Manager as Council’s Child Safety Officer.

When someone makes a disclosure, the priority is to receive the disclosure, provide support, ensure the person’s safety and wellbeing, and protect children and other vulnerable people from harm.

The following steps will be undertaken once a complaint or allegation has been reported:

  • A Complaint or Allegation of Child Abuse Record Form will be completed to record the complaint or allegation, or sufficient reporting details will be captured in an email or note;
  • Support will be offered to the child, the parents, the person who reports and the Council worker the subject of the allegation;
  • Internal processes to ensure the safety of all children including the alleged victim will be initiated;
  • Risk of significant harm concerns for a child will be reported to the Child Protection Helpline;
  • If required, the nature of the complaint will be clarified;
  • If required, NSW Police and Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) will be contacted and any instructions provided by them as to how to proceed will be followed;
  • An investigation will be carried out in a timely, fair and transparent manner in order to assess whether the allegation is or could be reportable conduct, in line with the requirements of the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (NSW);
  • Appropriate guidance will be obtained as necessary from the Reportable Conduct Directorate within the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG);
  • The Head of Entity will make a notification to the OCG within 7 business days of becoming aware of a reportable allegation or conviction against an employee of the entity, with further reporting to the OCG within 30 days;
  • The principles of procedural fairness and the mandatory considerations outlined in Division 6 of the Act will be adhered to when conducting any investigation. These include taking into account the gravity of the matters alleged; a breach of established standards such as professional standards, codes of conduct and accepted community standards;
  • A ‘finding of reportable conduct’ is defined in the Act to mean a finding that a reportable allegation has been sustained. The Act states that heads of relevant entities must make a finding of reportable conduct if satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the case against the employee has been proved.
  • All personal information considered during the process of reporting or investigating will be collected and managed in accordance with Council’s Privacy Policy. The privacy of those involved is maintained by Council in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW).
  • Provisions within the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (NSW) set out requirements for information sharing and disclosure of information which includes information about the progress, findings, and action taken in response to findings, to a child to whom the information relates to and a parent of the child.
  • Reporting to the Office of the Children’s Guardian enables the OCG to determine whether the investigation was carried out in a satisfactory manner and whether appropriate action was or can be taken;
  • Provisions within the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (NSW) set out requirements for information sharing and disclosure of information which includes information about the progress, findings, and action taken in response to findings, to a child to whom the information relates to and a parent of the child;
  • These procedures will be reviewed annually and after any critical incident