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).
The Reportable Conduct Scheme will now be managed by the Office of the Children’s Guardian. The scheme has been rewritten, so some of the requirements and definitions have changed.
The Reportable Conduct Scheme applies to all ‘relevant entities’, which includes all religious bodies. The scheme requires that relevant entities:
- have systems about reportable conduct (including a code of conduct, and systems and processes for identifying, preventing, detecting, reporting and investigating reportable conduct). See section 54.
- report any allegation that an employee of reportable conduct to the OCG within 7 business days. (Employee is defined to include anyone who is required to have a WWCC for their engagement with the church – including staff and volunteers). See section 27.
- investigate any allegation of reportable conduct and report the outcome to the OCG. See section 34.
Creating Safe Spaces training provides more information on the definition of ‘reportable conduct’ and the application of investigation requirements.