|Issue No 20||02 July 1999|
Child Laws Cause School Camp, Sport Chaos
School camps and the selection of school sports teams are under a cloud following the release of guidelines covering the new child protection laws.
The NSW Teachers Federation says the procedures governing the notification of child abuse allegations to the Ombusdman's Office are so oppressive that teachers will be discouraged from undertaking certain duties.
Procedures released from the Ombudsman require the notification of all allegations of child abuse, regardless of the allegation being proven.
According to hypotheticals outlined in the official procedures, teachers could be subject to a complaint in the following situation: "A child attending a school camp takes ill at night, It is not possible to obtain immediate medical attention. The teacher in charge treats the child with over the counter pharmaceuticals, until the child can be transported to a doctor the following day. An allegation is made by the parent of the child that the teacher neglected the child be failing to obtain immediate medical attention."
The union has also been told of a situation where a parent has alleged "abuse" after their child wasn't selected in the First XV rugby team.
In both cases a record of the complaint would be kept on the teacher's file and could be used to identify the teacher as a potential risk to students.
Teachers general secretary John Hennessy says if the Ombudsman's guidelines are applied in this manner, teachers won't be prepared to put themselves at risk by undertaking out of hours activities.
"Why would you take a music camp or select a football team if it could ruin your career?" Hennessy says.
The Teachers also have concerns with the process of handling complaints under the new legislation, which flowed from the Wood royal Commission.
"Teachers are being suspended under a cloud, being told they talk to their colleagues and then waiting up to 10 months to get a hearing," Hennessy says.
"In trying to stop the abuse of children the legislation is subjecting innocent adults to their own mental abuse."
The Labor Council is seeking a meeting with the Commissioner of Children and Young People to look at the concerns.
The Invisible Minister
Meanwhile, unions are becoming increasingly frustrated with the inaccessibility of Education Minister John Aquilina.
The Teachers Federation still haven't been given a chance to talk pay even though their agreement expired this week.
Working teachers are now seeking meetings with their local MPs, frustrated that the Minister won't engage in any discussion of their pay claim. The Federation's annual conference this week will now consider the Minister's non-response.
And the Shop Assistant's union (SDA) is also frustrated that Aquilina won't meet it to hear concerns about the treatment of apprentices under the Vocational Training Assistance Scheme.
In an issue that dates back to June 1996, young workers in regional NSW are being expected to travel large distance to complete TAFE courses with an allowance of just $11.50 per night.
The Labor Council resolved to bypass the Minister and take the issue up directly with the Premier.
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History: A Refreshing Advance
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International: MAI Back on the Agenda
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International: Courage Against the Odds
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Review: Without You I'm Nothing
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005