The Baird Government has diluted Working with Children Check safeguards that protect school children from potentially dangerous persons by prohibiting them from working in classrooms or on school grounds.
The Baird Government's Child Protection (Working with Children) and Other Child Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 will allow a person facing criminal charges to be placed on alternative non-child related duties.
The new legislation could allow a potentially high risk individual to continue working on a school site with children for the duration of proceedings against them.
At present, if a teacher or school support staff member has been charged with an offence that would result in the loss of a Working With Children Check clearance, that person would be dismissed or suspended and would not be able to work on a school site.
The Bill fails to specify that a charged person should not enter school grounds when children are present.
The NSW Opposition moved an amendment to correct this oversight and to prioritise the safety of school children, but it was voted down by the NSW Government.
Quotes Attributable to Shadow Minister for Illawarra Ryan Park:
“This Government has put every single school student in New South Wales at risk with this watering down of these vital protections.
“Every parent has a right to expect that if a teacher or someone working within school grounds is charged with a serious offence they are immediately suspended or dismissed. Thanks to the Baird Government this is not the case.
“The safety of children should always be the priority. It is simply madness that any measures to protect school aged kids aren’t adopted. This Government has failed the students and their families.
“This is a major bungle by a Government that has lost its way.