The Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) has announced that the Reportable Conduct Scheme (Scheme) has been extended to include youth organisations that provide overnight camps for children as part of its primary activity. This includes organisations such as the Scouts and Girl Guides and may also include sporting, recreational and summer camp organisations. The changes will take place from 1 May 2020 and youth organisations that may be captured should begin preparations.
What is the Scheme?
The Scheme began on 1 July 2017 and is administered by the CCYP. It aims to ensure allegations of misconduct involving children in relevant organisations that exercise care, supervision and authority over children are properly investigated. The Scheme includes reportable allegation involving an employee, volunteer, minister of religion, contractor or other person associated with the organisation.
A reportable allegation means any information that leads a person to form a reasonable belief that an individual associated with the organisation has committed:
- reportable conduct; or
- misconduct that may involve reportable conduct,
whether or not the conduct or misconduct is alleged to have occurred within the course of the person’s employment. This is a wide scope and captures conduct before the individual became an employee (such as historical allegations) and conduct by the employee in their personal lives outside of work.
Reportable conduct means:
- a sexual offence, sexual misconduct or physical violence committed against, with or in the presence of, a child;
- any behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child; or
- significant neglect of a child;
Is my organisation captured?
The Scheme was rolled out in three initial phases. It captures a wide range of organisations including schools, religious bodies, disability service providers, education and care services and children’s services.
You can read more about these phases in our previous article.
The new changes are set out in the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment Regulations 2019. It states that “a youth organisation that provides overnight camps for children as part of its primary activity” will be captured by the Scheme from 1 May 2020.
A youth organisation is defined as a youth organisation:
- in which children participate; and
- that provides activities in which children participate.
What does it mean if my organisation is captured?
If your organisation is captured by the Scheme, significant amendments need to be made to your policies, procedures and operations.
The Scheme imposes obligations on the head of organisations to:
- have in place systems to prevent child abuse and, if child abuse is alleged, to ensure allegations can be brought to the attention of appropriate persons for investigation and response;
- ensure that the Commission is notified and given updates on the organisation’s response to an allegation within strict timeframes including a:
- 3 day notification;
- 30 day update report;
- investigation and outcome report; and
- investigate the allegation while managing risks to children.
Organisations need to ensure that they have the proper policies and procedures in place to comply with the above requirements. It is important to note that the CCYP has begun to take compliance action against organisations that fail to comply with their obligations under the Scheme.
Youth organisations that are now captured by the Scheme need to prioritise preparation to ensure they are compliant by 1 May 2020. We recommend that organisations captured by the Scheme take the following steps.
- Assess the application of the Scheme – organisations should assess the application of the Scheme to confirm if it is captured. It is important to note that if one branch of your organisation is captured by the Scheme, your organisation as a whole will need to comply with the requirements of the Scheme.
- Amend your policies and procedures – organisations captured by the Scheme will need to amend their documents including their child safety policy, child safety reporting procedure and child safety code of conduct. These documents will need to align with the requirements under the Scheme and capture your investigation obligations.
- Train your staff – in particular, organisations will need to train their child safety officers to understand how they assess child safety allegations under the Scheme. Staff will also need to understand when allegations need to be escalated to the head of the entity to allow reports to be made to the CCYP.
- Investigation strategy – one of the most significant requirements under the Scheme is the requirement for organisations to investigate reportable allegations. Organisations need to consider how they will manage these investigations, whether they will be done internally or externally and how they can best manage any child safety risks. We recommend organisations review our tips on running a child safety investigation.