All students have a right to be free from harm and the department is dedicated to preventing incidents of harm to students and to acting quickly when an employee reasonably suspects harm or the risk of harm to a student has or may occur.
All other student harm matters not relating to employees will be managed in accordance with the Student Protection Procedure.
This procedure applies to suspected harm caused to students learning in a state educational facility and is supported by the
Allegations against employees in the area of student protection – guidelines. Harm caused to students over the age of 18 years is managed in accordance with the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service and the department’s Standard of Practice, and/or the complainants, as adults, retain the right to make a complaint directly to Police.
The Department of Education and Training is committed to providing a safe and supportive learning environment for
students and requires its
employees to model and encourage behaviour that upholds the welfare and best interests of students.
This procedure outlines the responsibilities and commitment of the Department of Education and Training to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. It covers the steps required to be undertaken when an employee causes harm or where there is a suspicion that an employee has caused, or is likely to cause, harm to a student.
Legislative frameworks may differ depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident of alleged harm; therefore it is crucial this procedure is followed carefully, particularly with respect to departmental employees reporting
sexual abuse of a person under the age of 18 years at a state educational facility.
Whilst there are four categories of harm identified, this procedure responds only to the first category:
Other categories are managed in accordance with the
Student Protection Procedure
Incidents of harm caused by an employee must be reported on the appropriate student protection form.
Matters that are categorised as low-level type incidents that are not considered to be repetitious on the part of the employee are to be reported to the Ethical Standards Unit for assessment and review using the
SP1 format: Report of student harm (suitable for local resolution) iRefer. The Ethical Standards Unit will provide advice when appropriate subsequent to the referral as to any patterns of behaviour that may be evident with a particular employee.
An SP1 notification is to be completed also in situations where an employee has interacted with a student resulting in low-level emotional or psychological harm. This can be a result of yelling or verbal abuse by the employee, or physical contact or assault of a student. It is acknowledged that SP1 incidents may give rise to an event of slight physical injury or discomfort to a student (i.e. minor scratching/bruising).
Incidents of harm caused by an employee, which are initially considered to be more serious than the incident criteria of an SP1, must be referred to the Ethical Standards Unit on a:
An SP2 notification is required in instances where the employee conduct or incident is considered more significant than that of an SP1 type matter. Reportable incidents in this category would range from more significant emotional, psychological harm and/or contact and/or physical assault resulting in some injury to a student. SP2 type matters may also include a repetition of SP1 type matters, if known by the referrer, and other instances of repetitious use of belligerent language towards or discussions with students for no apparent justifiable or educational purpose.
On a case by case basis, the Ethical Standards Unit will determine at the time of assessment if a pattern or behaviour or course of conduct is evident concerning an employee. In addition, the assessment will determine if any inappropriate discussions between an employee and student could amount to
grooming type behaviours.
An SP3 notification is required when a complaint or report relates to suspected sexual abuse or, based on the information available, it is likely that a student could be sexually abused by an employee. This type of notification would include proper consideration of employee behaviours and/or conduct as it relates to grooming indicators.
In instances where the suspicion or observations of an employee’s interactions with a student/s meets or aligns to some or all of the grooming indicators, a low-level threshold is to be maintained by employees for referring matters to a school principal for consideration, or the principal’s supervisor in the case where the principal is the person under suspicion for the alleged incident. Referral of this type of conduct may amount to suspected sexual abuse as defined under s364 of the
Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld) and as such, is reportable under s365 and/or s365(a) of the
Should you need advice on how to identify this type of conduct by an employee toward a student you are encouraged to contact the Ethical Standards Unit on telephone (07) 3055 2955 or
Reporting of this type of suspected employee misconduct is now mandatory. Employees should make a written report to the principal or the principal’s supervisor in the case of where the principal is suspected.
Principals or the principal’s supervisor must make a written report to Police and send a copy to the Ethical Standards Unit via an
Electronic Lodgement (iRefer) format available on the Ethical Standards Unit Intranet site.
This procedure should be read in conjunction with the
Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service and the
Facts Sheets relating to the reporting of sexual abuse and the department’s
Standard of Practice which applies to all departmental employees.
Regional/Institute/Statutory Authority Directors:
Director, Ethical Standards Unit:
Manager, Complaint Management Team, Ethical Standards Unit:
The process is outlined in the role responsibilities of each individual employee group specified in the ‘Responsibilities’ section of this procedure.
Detailed information concerning the established protocols for the
intake and assessment (DET employees only) of referrals and complaints to the Ethical Standards Unit is located on the
Ethical Standards Unit home page.
An electronic lodgement service iRefer is provided and preferred for efficiency and accuracy purposes when referring matters to the Ethical Standards Unit for assessment consideration and to the QPS in the case of SP3 type matters.
In cases where iRefer is not an option the following referral forms are available:
The following definitions are applied to this procedure and the allegations against employees in the area of student protection
Refers to repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a student or a group of students that creates a risk to health and safety.
‘Repeated behaviour’ refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can refer to a range of behaviours over time.
‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the circumstances, would see as victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening.
For the purposes of this procedure, a child is a person under the age of 18 years.
Any person employed by the department to work in a state educational facility in a permanent, temporary, casual, volunteer or contractual capacity.
Grooming is the act of deliberately establishing an emotional connection to lower a child’s inhibitions. The act of grooming is to prepare, as for a specific position or purpose: groom a child for advancement or preparation for other activities. An adult may groom a child for purposes of gratification later in life when the child becomes of age or earlier when, and if, an opportunity arises. Some indicators of grooming behaviour by an employee may include:
Touching or caressing
Unnecessary out of school hours contact
Supplying of gifts and treats
Some of the behaviours likely to be seen when a student is being groomed by an employee include:
These behaviours may not always be reportable conduct where they occur in isolation. However, a repetition of behaviour or patterns or several of these behaviours together could indicate that the conduct may amount to grooming and therefore would be reportable conduct.
Mentoring, coaching or tutoring programs in schools often involve individual attention being given to students from employees. Appropriate conduct within these programs that is consistent with departmental policies should not be confused with grooming behaviour.
As defined in the
Public Service Act 2008 (Qld) section 187 (4) (a) (b), misconduct means:
As defined in the
Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (Qld) (s. 14-15) official misconduct is conduct that could, if proved, be:
Refers to the principal or manager working in a state educational facility or a business unit in the department.
As defined in the
Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld) s.365 and s.365(a): sexual abuse, in relation to a relevant person, includes sexual behaviour involving the relevant person and another person in the following circumstances—
A ‘relevant person’ is defined as:
For the purpose of this procedure, sexual misconduct and/or sexual harassment may also include behaviours which amount to sexual abuse.
Sexual misconduct is defined in the department
Standard of Practiceas a range of behaviours, a pattern of behaviour or an act aimed at the involvement of a student in sexual acts. Sexual misconduct includes:
Behaviours of an employee which may amount to sexual misconduct include:
State Educational Facility
Includes state schools, TAFE Institutes, Statutory TAFE Authorities and any other educational facility where employees work.
A TAFE Institute is defined in s.191 of the
Vocational Education, Training and Employment Act 2000 (Qld).
A Statutory TAFE Institute is defined under Chapter 6A of the
Vocational Education, Training and Employment Act 2000 (Qld).
A student is defined as a person who is enrolled in a state education facility and who is under the age of 18 years. This definition is extended to include students who are enrolled in a state education facility, are identified as having a disability, are over the age of 18 years of age, and where a carer or adult guardian has been appointed as the student’s interim decision maker.
Any detrimental effect on a student’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing caused by an employee, other than confirmed accidental harm not involving negligence or misconduct. Harm to a student includes minor harm that is cumulative in nature that would significantly hurt or injure a student, if allowed to continue. Harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation.
Any person who visits a state educational facility on a one-off or regular basis to provide services. This includes volunteers assisting in the classroom, on excursion, or as a presenter of one-off program.
For further information, please contact:
Ethical Standards UnitPhone: (07) 3055 2933
Complaints Management TeamEthical Standards Unit
Phone: (07) 3055 2955
Uncontrolled copy. Refer to the Department of Education Policy and Procedure Register to ensure you have the most current version of this document.
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