Dealing With Sexual Abuse Issues

We aim to deliver Just, Redemptive Outcomes®

By Alistair Macpherson

Educators need to be aware of their duty to protect children from harm. Every teacher and school authority has a duty to protect students from harm and provide a safe learning environment.

The essence of this duty was captured in Geyer v Downs [1977] HCA 64 where the High Court said: “Children stand in need of care and supervision and this their parents cannot effectively provide them when children are attending school ; instead it is those then in charge of them, their teachers, who must provide it”[1].

Despite the development, change and refinement we have seen emerging in the space of child protection since 1977, this underlying principle still holds true in relation to dealing with harm and sexual abuse issues in schools.

There are 4 primary pieces of legislation that regulate this area including:

  1. The Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 – Obligation on all school employees to report sexual abuse to a student under 18
  2. The Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 Imposing a requirement for a school to report to the Queensland College of Teachers any investigation in respect of an allegation of harm by a teacher against a child
  3. The Public Health Act 2005 – Details an obligation for doctors or registered nurses to report harm, or suspected harm, to children. this could extend to school nurses if they are registered
  4. The Child Protection Act 1999 – Creates mandatory reporting obligations for teachers regarding sexual or physical abuse.

The purpose of this paper is to unpack the obligations under these pieces of legislation and extract some practical actions that can be taken to address sexual abuse issues in a school context.

Understanding your obligations and duty under the law

Children should be protected from any activity that takes advantage of them or could harm their welfare and development.”[2] By virtue of your role as a teacher, educator or educational authority a relationship exists between you and your students that gives rise to a non-delegable duty of care. The standard of care that is expected of a teacher or educational authority is higher than that expected of a parent, but does not extend to complete prevention of harm, “but a duty to take reasonable care to avoid harm being suffered”[3].

Since July 2012 obligations around the reporting of sexual abuse under the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) have broadened. In addition to the need to consider appropriate actions to prevent physical harm from being suffered in an educational environment, teachers and educational authorities have a duty to report harm when and if it occurs. There is also a duty to report if there is an unreasonable risk of harm occurring.

The broadening of these provisions meant that the obligation to report harm was extended to where a teacher knew or reasonably suspected that harm was being caused by “any person” not simply by another teacher or an educational authority. The obligation to report now also places an obligation on teachers personally to report such harmful behaviours or their suspicions of harmful behaviours.

Importantly, the extension to “any person” means that it can involve sexual abuse by a parent, third party or fellow student. Care will need to be taken when dealing with sexual behaviour between students and particularly whether that behaviour could amount to sexual abuse because of the circumstances of the behaviour or the nature of the relationship between the students.

What is Sexual Abuse?

According to the Child Protection Act[4] sexual abuse is a type of harm under section 9 which is anything that has any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. It is immaterial how the harm is caused. The Act[5] further defines it by stating that “harm can be caused by a single act, omission or circumstance; or a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances.

Sexual abuse is now also defined in the legislation as including sexual behaviour involving a relevant person and another person in the following circumstances:

  • The other person bribes, coerces, exploits, threatens or is violent towards the relevant person;
  • The relevant person has less power than the other person;
  • There is significant disparity between the relevant person and the other person in intellectual capacity or maturity.

Regardless of whether various types of sexual conduct or behaviours are welcomed by the child, or condoned by the parents of the child, the relationship between a teacher and a student gives rise to a position of power imbalance and the relationship between a teacher and a student under 18 years gives rise to a situation where there is a significant disparity between the student and the teacher in intellectual capacity and maturity. Any sexual contact, behaviour or innuendo in the context of a teacher student relationship is inappropriate and conduct of this kind with any person under 16 years is unlawful.[6]

Mandatory reporting and record keeping requirements

The Child Protection Act[7] places an obligation on certain people including doctors, teachers, registered nurses and police officers to report any reasonable suspicion that a child has suffered, is suffering or is at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse.

This position is echoed in the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld) where in section 365[8] it imposes a duty on staff members of state schools who become aware or reasonably suspect in the course of their employment that a student under 18 years attending the school has been sexually abused by another person. It requires this person to provide a written report to the school principal immediately.

The Acts[9] impose the duty to report this behaviour of anyone. The use of the word “anyone” extends outside the confines of the school and may include parents, other family members or friends of the student or any other party. Similar provisions apply to non-state schools by operation of section 366[10] and the Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Regulation[11].

The regulations require, in addition to reporting, that non-state schools have a written process in place that will detail how the school will respond to allegations of harm and the conduct deemed appropriate for school staff and students.

Under the Child Protection Act[12] where a teacher has a reportable suspicion about a child under section 13E, they have a personal duty to report this suspicion. Their duty to report the abuse is discharged by providing the information to the Principal at the school to enable the Principal to take appropriate action to protect the child or other children from risk of harm. Appropriate action in the context of sexual abuse must include the making of the necessary reports to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and also to the police.

When a report is required under the legislation regarding sexual abuse that report must be made in writing to both a police officer under section 365[13] of the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006[14] and also to the department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. If a copy of the written report is not provided by the principle to the police and to the department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services it becomes an offence under the Act[15].

In addition to the duty of the school to report sexual abuse of its students to the police and to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, if the sexual abuse relates acts committed by a registered teacher a report must also be made under the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld) to the Queensland College of Teachers to allow investigation of the teachers conduct and consideration of their suitability to maintain registration as a teacher.

Under the Child Protection Regulations[16] the report to the Department[17] must include:

  • the child’s name and sex; and age;
  • details of how to contact the child;
  • details of the harm to which the reportable suspicion relates;
  • particulars of the identity of the person suspected of causing the child to have suffered, suffer, or be at risk of suffering the abuse;
  • particulars of the identity of any other person who may be able to give information about the harm to which the reportable suspicion relates.

It is best practice to keep a written record of all reports made to the school in relation to harm and sexual abuse and all actions taken by the school and its authorities in relation to those reports. This is of particular relevance to reports made in relation to the physical or sexual abuse of its students. When a report is made to the Police, the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services or the Queensland College of Teachers it is also recorded by these authorities and will remain on file. Any investigation and or disciplinary action will also be recorded and maintained. Records of any investigations undertaken by the school and records of any disciplinary action taken against its teachers or administrators in relation to allegations of sexual abuse should be maintained diligently.

The purpose of accurate and effective record keeping in relation to allegations of physical or sexual abuse allows comprehensive reports to be made were necessary and required under legislation after the fact and in some instances where there are multiple sources of information about the same series of events. Comprehensive records that were made promptly at the time an allegation was made provides an accurate account of events that may be used in evidence during any criminal prosecution that arises as a result of the allegations. Diligent and comprehensive records of reports made and actions taken can also provide somewhat of a safeguard for the school should an aggrieved employee seek to bring a civil claim against the school in relation to any disciplinary actions taken by the school in response to the allegations.

What do you do when an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual assault arises?

If an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual assault arises the first thing that should be considered is your duty to protect your students from harm. You should ensure that you have an accurate record of the allegation being made and the events, behaviour or incident that has given rise to the allegation being made. As a principal or school authority it is your duty to ensure that a reasonable suspicion has been formed and you understand the basis on which that suspicion has been formed. Your role is to determine whether the suspicion that has been indicated to you is a reportable suspicion under the legislation. In relation to sexual abuse or sexual assault, under the legislation, if you are provided information about sexual abuse or assault or an unacceptable risk of sexual abuse or assault occurring you must report it.

Once you have recorded the allegation with sufficient accuracy and detail and formed a view that the allegation is a “reportable suspicion” relating to sexual abuse, you must compile a report for the police and the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability services. When compiling your report you should ensure that you have complied with the obligations under the child protection regulations mentioned earlier.

In the first instance this report must be provided to the police and then to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. Your assessment of your reporting obligations must also include whether or not this persons is a teacher. If the person who is the subject of the allegation is a registered teacher you will also need to comply with your duty under the Education (General Provisions) Act[18] in relation to the reporting of teachers conduct to the Queensland College of Teachers. In relation to allegations of sexual abuse or assault allegedly committed by a registered teacher it will be necessary to forward a copy of the report made to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and the Police on to the Queensland College of Teachers. The Queensland College of Teachers will make their own assessments and conduct their own investigations in relation to the teacher’s suitability to maintain their registration.

Once you have discharged your reporting obligations under the act you must consider your what actions should be taken by the school in discharging the school’s duty to its students to protect them from further harm. If the person who is the subject of the allegation is a teacher, administrator or other member of staff it will be critical to consider what actions (if any) should be taken in relation to their employment and whether any disciplinary action should be taken at this point. This will include consideration of any interim decisions made by the Queensland College of Teachers in relation to a teacher’s registration and how that will impact the performance of their role and substantive duties within the school.

These types of allegations have the potential to inflict damaging consequences on both the school the person who is the subject of the allegation even if this person is later cleared of any misconduct. For this reason confidentiality is a critical component in the effective management of allegations of and investigation into sexual abuse or assault. If an allegation of sexual abuse is made it is important to only discuss these matters with relevant persons and not publish this information any further beyond your mandatory reporting lines and associated colleagues. Publication of this sensitive information beyond the confines of “relevant persons” (being the people who need to know for the school to comply with its reporting and record keeping obligations) may lead to actions in defamation being taken against the school or any person personally involved in the publication of defamatory material.

The legislation provides protection to people who make a report in accordance with their obligations under the Act. This protection extends to protection against any liability in defamation. The Child Protection Act[19] specifically states that “a person who makes a report under these provisions is protected from any criminal, civil or administrative liability, including defamation, and is relieved of their obligations of confidence.” This basically means that, as teachers and school authorities, you cannot be held liable for defamation or other offences for simply complying with your reporting obligations under the legislation. As mentioned above, however, caution should be exercised when deciding how and who the information will be provided to. It should also be remembered that the information should only be communicated to those personal essential to fulfilling your reporting obligations.

It is important that, while you may chose to action disciplinary proceedings or you may be required to suspend an employees employment for the duration of an investigation, you will need to provide appropriate levels of support to the persons affected by the allegations both the subject and the victim. You will also need to ensure that the person who is the subject of the allegations remains informed of the progress of the matter as information becomes available. It will also be important to ensure that the student is supported and protected from any further harm of the same or similar nature or any harm arising as a result of allegations or information disclosed.

Going through the process: what can happen to teachers and administrators

As discussed above providing support to staff members and students who are the subjects of allegations of sexual abuse is an important component of effective management and resolution of allegations of sexual abuse or assault. Regardless of the truth or falsity of the allegations the period following an allegation will be a high pressure and stressful period for all parties involved.

If the allegation is made against a registered teacher it is likely that their registration will be suspended by the Queensland College of Teachers after a report is made by the principal pending investigation. If this is the case, the teacher will not be able to continue in their substantive role within the school until the Queensland College of Teachers has lifted the suspension. To ensure that the school is compliant with the requirements of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 the school will be compelled to stand the teacher down from their current role until their registration is reinstated. Depending on the nature of the allegations it will also be necessary for the school to determine whether there is an unacceptable risk of harm to the students by having the teacher perform other administrative duties on the school premises or whether the school must make the interim decision to suspend the teacher from all duties pending a final decision in accordance with the final outcome of investigations or any criminal proceedings.

In addition to the schools duty to make appropriate reports to various authorities the school is free to take their own disciplinary action in relation to the teacher or staff member. This may or may not include terminating their employment on a permanent basis effective immediately. However, it is sometimes in the interests of the school to reserve termination pending the outcome of a police investigation. This will act as a safeguard for the school against any claims for unfair dismissal based on false allegations made against a staff member. It will also assist to preserve the reputation of the employee and the school should the employee be cleared of any misconduct.

If the person against whom the allegation was made is a teacher, they may face disciplinary action from the Queensland College of Teachers in the event that the allegations are found to be substantiated. If this is the case it is likely that the teacher will be prevented from holding registration as a teacher in Queensland. This may also affect their ability to hold registration in any other state. In accordance with the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 the school will be compelled, in these circumstances, to terminate the employment of this teacher without delay. The decision that led to their registration being terminated may also make them ineligible to hold a Queensland Blue Card. If this is the case it will be inappropriate to retain the employee in any capacity within the school.

In addition to internal disciplinary proceedings and disciplinary actions taken by the Queensland College of Teachers both teachers and administrators may face criminal prosecution for their actions. This may result in a wide range of penalties including incarceration, community service, fines and having their name added to the sex offender registry. All criminal prosecution of this kind will affect their ability to hold a blue card. The inability to obtain a blue card in Queensland will restrict their employment options in relation to services offered to youth and children and most likely make them ineligible to maintain employment in the education sector.

Issues related to wrongful allegations

The first question that presents in the minds of those who have a reportable suspicion, but may not have the “proof” they feel necessary to make a report, is whether or not they will be sued for defamation or whether they will be liable for any offence or compensation for making that report to the school or to the appropriate authority if the person is eventually cleared of any misconduct. As stated above, by virtue of section 13D and 197A of the Child Protection Act, a person who makes a report under these provisions is protected from any criminal, civil or administrative liability, including defamation, and is relieved of their obligations of confidence in relation to the information they have that informs their reportable suspicion.

This protection under the Act will also cover an allegation that is later dismissed as long as the person making the allegations acted honestly and reasonably. The legislation also goes further stating that a person making allegations honestly and reasonably may not be subject to disciplinary proceedings or actions for making such allegations. These protections enable reportable suspicions to be investigated fully and promptly without fear of retaliation or disciplinary action from the person aggrieved by the allegation or the informant’s employer.

The important thing to note about this protection under the Act is that it will not apply to a person who makes wrongful allegations with knowledge of their falsity. If allegations are made by a person who knows them to be false then the informant will remain liable for claims in defamation which can be sought against the informant by both the school and also by the individual aggrieved by the wrongful allegations. This is because without honest reportable suspicion the actions of the informant will likely result in actions that fall within the definition of defamation. A person who suffers loss as a result of a wrongful allegation may be able to apply to the court and receive an award of damages or compensation for their loss against the informant.

What is necessary to become a child safe organization?

The obligations imposed by legislation to protect students from harm and compel teachers, school authorities and medical practitioners (including registered school nurses) to report instances of sexual abuse immediately, carry with them the inherent duty to design and implement appropriate programs and procedures to ensure the safety of students. The duties and obligations under the legislation carries with them the commonsense obligation to warn students about dangerous situations or practices and provide safe avenues and reporting lines for them to report behaviours or conduct that makes them feel unsafe.

Regardless of whether a school is a state school or a non-state school it is critical to fulfilling your obligations under the various legislative instruments that a clearly drafted and unambiguous procedure is implemented around the reporting requirements of each staff member and how that process will carry out in practice.

The policy and procedure for handling allegations of sexual abuse need not merely be made available to staff, but needs to be actively brought to their attention at regular intervals. Staff should be provided training and instruction in relation to their reporting obligations and how to identify instances of sexual abuse or harm. It is important that value is placed on timely reports made to the principal in this regard are dealt with immediately as a matter of priority.

We see a number of guiding principles in relation to developing a child safe organization emerge out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The hearing of the Royal Commission occurred from 7-17 October 2014. The terms of reference for the Commission were:

  • What institutions and government should do to better protect children against child sexual abuse
  • What institutions and governments should do to achieve best practice in reporting and responding to incidents of child sexual abuse
  • What should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments that exists for responding appropriately to child sexual abuse
  • What should be done to address the impact of past and future child sexual abuse (justice, investigation, prosecution and victim support).

While the commission hearing involved the consideration of the response of the ACC and affiliated churches to allegations of child sexual abuse, the tips and tricks that can be extracted from the commission are transferable outside the clergy and are translatable into a school and educational context with ease.

Distilled from the Royal Commission hearing we consider that being a child safe organisation means: Being aware of conflicts of interest, taking care with titles, exercising caution in drafting policies, following policies/procedures, understanding your reporting obligations, appropriately dealing with complaints against credential holders, compiling critical incident reviews, providing ongoing support to victims and seeking help quickly.

Beware of conflicts of interest

This was raised in Parts 1 (Pastor Frank Houston) and 3 (Pastor Jonathon Baldwin) of the commission hearing. It is important to understand that conflicts of interest within a corporate context are not simply “financial”, and can include family relationships. This is a particularly relevant conflict in a school context and one that may be easily overlooked when drafting a code of conduct for your employees.  A requirement in the code of conduct to disclose and avoid familial or relational conflicts with students or other staff members places the obligation on the credential holders being the teachers to disclose and avoid such conflicts.

Conflicts of interest can be actual or perceived. It is not necessary that there be any benefit derived from the relationship. It is sufficient that the relationship exists. Familial conflicts are of particular relevant in the context of dealing with sexual abuse or assault during the investigation and reporting stage. Where there is a Conflict of Interest measure need to be put in place to remove the Conflict (i.e. Removing conflicted parties from having any influence in the decision making process). Where necessary, decision making should be elevated to an independent person or group such as the board or chair.

Take care with titles

This was raised in Part 3 (Pastor Jonathon Baldwin). This was a situation were a person was called a Pastor before he was credentialed by ACC. The issue of titles and misleading title applies to administrative and support staff or volunteers at the school. Frequently schools will allow members of the community to become class room assistants or support staff and the school employs a rage of administrative staff who also have duties in relation to the operation of the school and its student. Allowing students to refer to non-accredited staff members or student teachers as “teacher” has the potential to mislead the students because they are not a credential holder with the requisite authority and accountably.  A credential holder has gone through appropriate assessment and review processes to become a teacher and a volunteer or administrative staff member simply has not.

The holding out of a person to have a position or title that they simply are not entitled to hold “carries with it an implied level of trust that’s been placed there by an organisation that indeed adopts that position”[20]. In the context of a teacher-student relationship there is “an implied level of trust”[21] and, rightly so, “there should be a greater level of accountability to mitigate that implied level of trust”[22]. This greater level of accountability simply does not exist for administrative members of staff or volunteers due to the absence of a registration requirement or authoritive body who governs their ongoing suitability to perform those responsibilities. By allowing someone to call themselves a teacher, represent themselves as being a teacher or exert the same level of control or authority as a teacher they may be viewed as having “the same coercive powers”[23] over the students under their authority or control. With this increased power, disproportionate to their reporting obligations and accountability measures, the potential for abuse of this power increases and poses significant risk to the students of the school. Care should be taken when allocating duties and titles among staff members to ensure that the responsibilities of each position are appropriately supported by a title and that the person fulfilling those responsibilities is appropriately qualified to perform those duties.

Caution in drafting policies

This was raised in Part 3 (Pastor Jonathon Baldwin).  This part of the case related to an issue that arose when the Church drafted a Child Protection Policy, rather than relying on the ACC (Qld) Template. The intentions of the church were good, but drafting a Child Protection Policy requires an understanding of legislation, psychology, child protection issues, etc.  A multitude of professionals have input into template policies. However, the Church had the policy drafted by two volunteer leaders within the church.  Neither was qualified in child protection and the Policy was never reviewed by ACC Queensland.

The result of the new policy was that the process of reporting incidents stoped at the senior pastor because, under the new policy, no mandatory reporting obligations existed. The mandatory obligation to report child sexual abuse to the police and to the state child protection authorities was omitted. This has serious implications on the outworking of the churches obligation to report such matters and, in essence, their own policies hindered their compliance with child protection legislation.

The commission suggested that it was a serious failing of the organisation to adopt a policy that did not adopt the same child protection standard as that of the state authority. The same could be said of a school or educational authority who adopts a policy or process that is not supported by the legislation that regulates the area of addressing sexual abuse allegations so clearly. It is important that a careful drafting process is adopted when seeking to implement the requisite policies under the legislation.

It is advantageous for a school to engage the services of professionals in this area to ensure that their policies are not only compliant, but their processes a adequate to provide a sufficient level of protection for the students of the school taking into consideration the age, maturity level or special needs of the children and also any potential conflicts or misrepresentations that may arise.

Follow policies/procedures

This point was raised in Part 3 (Pastor Jonathon Baldwin), but also in other parts through out the hearing.  It seems fairly straight forward that if a policy is adopted it ought be followed however how many times is a policy drafted, approved, adopted, distributed and left to sit on a shelf or in a draw or file somewhere never to be thoughtful read or considered? The lesson we learn from the Royal commission in this regard is that this attitude and conduct toward policies, particularly those related to the safety and protection of children is inappropriate.

The example we see from the hearing is that the ACC has distributed a “minister’s Manual” which included 2 chapters on Managing Child Abuse and detailed a Victim Care and Protection Plan and also a policy on the protection of children from Child Abuse. Training in this regard was even made available though the state, but neither were accessed. The leaders were aware of their existence, but no further action had been taken. It is vital that leaders not only “know the existence of” the Policies, but that they “know the Policies” and “follow the Policies”. If there is training available to leaders or staff of the school, again, it is not enough to know that it may be able to access this facility should it be required, but it is vital that leaders and teachers participate in the Training.

Understand reporting obligations

Reporting obligations vary from State to State. Today we have discussed the obligations of school authorities and teachers under Queensland law, but care should be taken if you are a school with multi-campuses, in different jurisdictions. Failure to report in accordance with the laws of the relevant jurisdiction may have credentialing consequences. Do not be afraid of reporting suspicious behaviour to leaders/executive members. Protection of children is the paramount concern. If you see it report it and if it is reported act on it and act on it promptly and in accordance with the requirements of the relevant jurisdiction.

Dealing with complaints against Credential Holders

Derive you policies from the legislation and from professional advice and ensure they remain compliant. When a complaint or allegation is made, seek to have them reduced to writing, but give all reasonable assistance to complainants in obtaining this. If its been reported and you are aware it is still you problem to deal with even if it has not been provided in writing at the current time. You can not be “resistant to receiving a complaint”.[24] There is no issue with requesting that the complaint eventually be reduced into writing by the informant, but in the interim, it may still be necessary to take appropriate steps to protect children. the key principle is that the duty of care to children takes priority.

Ongoing support to victims

This was an issue that was raised throughout the Commission hearing. It is important that educational authorities and teachers Never forget the impact child abuse has on victims and thier families. During the hearing Ms Fretton gave evidence and said:

As a young girl, I believed going to school should have been an enjoyable time with the trust of the teachers to help and guide me along.  These critical years are the ones that form the foundation for a healthy education and future.  However, for me,        being a six-year-old girl, going to school was the scariest thing and made me very afraid of the older people around me. 

 Going to school affected me each and every day, and I lived with an ongoing fear of not knowing what was going to occur on a day-to-day basis.  It made me feel physically sick every day knowing I had to see him and feeling a helplessness that I had no control of. I put my trust in the people from the school and the church to do the right thing by me. I developed the courage to confront       them and to tell them what was occurring, but the promises they made to change things year after year seemed to fall on deaf ears… I still feel scared.”[25]

It is critical to the effective management of sexual abuse allegations that the school provides ongoing care and support to victims and their families. Often the school itself with not have the skill or expertise to administer this care an support independently, but it should engage the assistance of professionals and consider alternative options where necessary based on the needs and desires of the victim.

Critical Incident Reviews

When the unthinkable happens, analyse why, and what can be done to prevent it occurring again. Effective management of sexual abuse allegations is not strictly and simply about the following of a procedure, but it is about learning from the incident and endeavoring to prevent it in the future. When the unthinkable happens, seek the assistance of professionals and independent observers in the process. Make timely, but well reasoned and duly considered and informed decisions. While you may, in some respects, feel powerless to review what was and probably still is an unpleasant situation that arose, despite your best efforts, we can take guidance from the words of the Commissioner in this time of review:

“There’s nothing standing in your way, for example, of writing to the current head pastor and asking for his or her cooperation in a review to determine what happened in that period of time, inviting people such as [ALA] and his family to come forward and indicate what their experience of the process during when the child sexual abuse was actually happening, to indicate what that was and to start an analysis of what was going wrong within the church at that time…”

Seek help quickly

Policies, procedures, compliance and training are difficult and when the unthinkable happens it can be even more difficult to deal with, legally, professionally and personally. Despite these difficulties being inherent in these situations, the best rule of thumb is that, whenever in doubt – seek help quickly. Seek the help of legal professionals and counsellors. While the process in itself is unthinkable and can have lasting impacts on all involved, a multitude of Counsellors and professional advisors will help achieve a wise outcome. So, use professionals where necessary and don’t be afraid to make contact with counsellors, psychologists, independent investigators and legal assistance. Timely advice, guidance, support and assistance may make the unthinkable manageable and prevent it from happening in the future.

[1] Geyer v Downs [1977] HCA 64

[2] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 6)

[3] Chief Justice Winneke in Richards v State of Victoria (1969) VR 136

[4] Child Protection Act 2001 (Qld)

[5] Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld)

[6] Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) s.215

[7] Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld)

[8] Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)

[9] Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld), Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)

[10] Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)

[11] Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Regulation 2001 (Qld)

[12] 1999 (Qld)

[13] Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld) s365 (2A)

[14] Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)

[15] Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)

[16] Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) Section 13G; Child Protection Regulations 2011 (Qld)

[17] Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

[18] 2006 (Qld)

[19] Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld)

[20] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Evidence of Queensland State President – John Hunt:

[21] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Evidence of Queensland State President – John Hunt:

[22] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Evidence of Queensland State President – John Hunt:

[23] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Evidence of National President Wayne Alcorn

[24] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Evidence of National President – Wayne Alcorn

[25] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Evidence of Victim – Ms Fretton