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Reportable Conduct Scheme Commences

The Children’s Guardian Act 2019 passed the NSW parliament on November 2019 and comes into force on 1 March 2020. A key part of the Act involves changes to the Reportable Conduct Scheme. The Reportable Conduct Scheme, in NSW, was previously managed by the Ombudsman’s office and only included a small number of churches (those who were classified as including residential care due to running certain types of camps).

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Changes to Civil Liability

Changes to the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) – Division 4 of Part 1 B – mean that proceedings for child abuse can now be brought against an unincorporated association. This provision is retrospective, it applies to proceedings brought in relation to abuse that occurred prior to the commencement of the division.

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Expanded Special Care Provisions

Special Care Provisions operate to adjust the age of consent where there is a power imbalance or relationship of responsibility between two people. This means, for example, that where one person is a youth leader the other person is not able to consent to any sexual activity until they are over 18 (instead of the usual age of consent, which is 16). These provisions have existed since at least 1900 but have now been expanded to include sexual touching as well as sexual intercourse.

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Changes to Working With Children Check

In addition to collecting the WWCC number of any person in child-related work, the employer must  also verify the WWCC and retain a record of the verification date, personal details and expiry of WWCC. (s9A)

Individuals who have a WWCC now have an obligation to notify the Children’s Guardian within 3 months of any change to their name, address, contact details or employer (s36B)

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No Time Limit for Bringing an Action for Damages Arising From Child Abuse

In most instances, a claim for damages must be brought within a certain time frame (for example, usually 12 months for breach of contract and 6 years for negligence). Changes to the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW), section 6A, means that there is no longer any time limit for claims arising from child abuse (including sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and any connected abuse)