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               Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Association of NSW                                                                  Formatted: Font: 18 pt

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                                           Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW                                       Formatted: Left, Indent: Left: 1.5", First line:
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                                          Organisational Response

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                               Review of Departmental Complaints Policy,                                                               Formatted: Font: 14 pt, No underline

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                Anti-harassment Policy (Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and                                                      Formatted: Font: 14 pt, No underline
          Allegations’                                                                                                                 Formatted: Font: Not Bold
                                               draft)                                                                                  Formatted: Indent: First line: 0.5"
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Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW, Organisational Response Dec 2004                                            1
DET Review of Department Complaints Policy ‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’Anti-harassment Policy (draft)
Organisational Response Oct 2004
1. PREAMBLE                                                                                                                            Formatted: Font: Not Italic

The Federation is committed to a free pubic education system which is open to all people, irrespective of culture,
gender, academic ability and socio-economic class and empowers students to control their own lives and be
contributing members of society.
This commitment is based on the belief that:
         All students have the capacity to learn;                                                                                     Formatted: Bullets and Numbering

         The Government has prime responsibility to provide an education system open to all, which is free and
          secular;
         Schools should be structured to meet the needs of individual students and should respect the knowledge
          those students bring to school and build on that knowledge to foster their understanding about the world.
Parents as partners in the education process, have a right and a responsibility to play an active role in the
education of the children.
P&C Federation of NSW and its representatives share a responsibility of ensuring representative decision making
for the benefit of all students1.


2. INTRODUCTION

The Federation congratulates the DET in addressing it’s responsibilities to staff, students and parents in relation to
handling suggestions, complaints and allegations in public schools and the timely review of the current document,
‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations-Effective April 2001’.

The Federation had advocated for a document which held the DET responsible for the conduct of its staff. We
understand the DET’S proposal to re-write it in the Department’s new policy format and we understand the
reasoning behind the current review.

Recommendation 1: That the DET write a policy document in the Department’s new policy format.                                          Formatted: Font: Bold


The content of the present document doesn’t discriminate against parents or non-teaching staff members. Rather,
the formatting and use of language (which is not accessible to all parents or not encompassing of all school
administration staff) as well as the density of the document has not created an inclusive and accessible document
that could be used by everyone to help in the understanding and resolution of complaints and allegations; and the                      Formatted: Font: Arial Narrow
making of suggestions in our schools.
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1
    P&C Handbook 2003-2004                                                                                                             Formatted: Normal
Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW, Organisational Response Dec 2004                                            2
DET Review of Department Complaints Policy ‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’Anti-harassment Policy (draft)
Organisational Response Oct 2004
We hope however, to include a few simple suggestions that might help to create a climate of positive
responsiveness and behaviours surrounding the relationships, responsibilities and rights when suggestions,
complaints and allegations are made in the context of the local school.

The 2001 document is essentially a procedure manual for the DET which is an extremely large organisation and
was achieved following many years of negotiation. The Federation understands the sensitive nature of the
processes and the achievements evident in the current document, especially in regards the timelines and the
mandatory steps that the current document contains.

We support the retention of the current document in booklet format, but would draw your attention to the lack of
distribution amongst teachers, principals and especially that there is no appropriate document or resource e for
parents to assist them in understanding their gits and obligations in this instance.

Recommendation 2: That the new document retained the present format as a procedures manual and re-
issued to all schools.


3. WORKPLACE INFORMATION RESOURCES FOR STAFF AND PARENTS                                                                               Formatted: Font: Italic
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The Federation believes that with the passage of time, the current booklet, though it is a procedures manual,
which the DET is required could go further to support both staff and parents, and we support its retention in slightly
different formats. There is a clear gap between this document and what is required to effectively manage
complaints in the workplace.

As a Workplace document for Staff:                                                                                                     Formatted: Font: Bold, Italic
The Federation suggests that teaching and non teaching staff and school principals need training and develop
plan/document mandate that focuses on resolution.
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This could be achieved by assuring that Principals and teachers receive as part of their training, the skills,
knowledge and understanding to resolve complaints. This would be supported by the Manual.

Some suggestions are:
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               That the language used, be plain and accessible                                                                        Formatted: Bullets and Numbering
               The introduction to the current document is extremely important and should be retain, emphasised
                and the entire manual DET on the DET website.
               Procedural fairness, confidentiality and malicious allegations should be referred to, specifically with
                reference back to the source document2.

Recommendation 3: That the DET develop a Teacher focused training and development program that
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focuses on resolution and references as part of the current and future teacher training program.
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Parent Resources for distribution:                                                                                                     Formatted: Font: Arial Narrow
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2
    Which would remain essentially the same format as per the current book.                                                            Formatted: Normal
Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW, Organisational Response Dec 2004                                            3
DET Review of Department Complaints Policy ‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’Anti-harassment Policy (draft)
Organisational Response Oct 2004
The Federation receives many calls each week, some quite serious, from parents concerning not only the                                 Formatted: Font: Not Italic
complaint, but also the complaints procedures. Almost all parents are either:                                                          Formatted: Left
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              Unaware of what are the DET’s procedures for suggestions, complaints and allegations                                    Formatted: Left, Bulleted + Level: 1 + Aligned
              Unaware of their rights and obligations as a parent regarding confidentiality and privacy, and                          at: 0.5" + Tab after: 0.75" + Indent at: 0.75"

              Unaware of any system of procedural fairness in relation to their communication about such matters                      Formatted: Bullets and Numbering
               with their child’s school or by one parent about another parent or teacher
              Unable to manage the complaints regime.
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Parents are often unaware of the current document in any form. We suggest that all parents in a school                                 Formatted: Left
community must be informed of the complaints procedure in their school, by the Principal. This could be attained
by using various networks such as newsletters, new parent orientation sessions, parent meetings and
‘Information to Parent Booklet’ for example.

However, when parents are making a complaint or a serious allegation, it is essential for them, during what is for
the majority of parents, a very traumatic experience, that Principals and schools make sure that all documentation
and support is made available to them.

The Federation emphasises that resolution and a positive way forward is the desired outcome.

Transparency of the documentation, assessment and resolution processes of the DET as well as parents’ rights
and responsibilities in that process3 is essential.

The Federation suggests a DL tri-fold brochure that could easily be translated, entitled something like ‘What do I                     Formatted: Font: Not Italic
do? - A Parent Guide to Making Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’. The Parent Guide would be written in                          Formatted: Font: Not Italic
plain English for parents, with simple text, outlining examples of school based concerns to enhance parents’
understanding that the DET is aware and acknowledges that responding to suggestions, complaints and
allegations is a regular, if sometimes unpleasant aspect as a consequence of providing free and responsive public
education in NSW.

Recommendation 4: That the DET develop a Parent brochure (that can be translated) that focuses on
rights and obligations for parents when making suggestions, complaints and allegations.
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The parent brochure would empower parents to act, with alacrity in an often highly stressful situation and also to
seek the DET’s assistance immediately rather than wait, perhaps through fear of retribution and with a distinct
knowledge that their complaint will be dealt with in a professional way that demonstrates transparency and
respect.
The Federation has reviewed the draft in the context of other reviews and draft documents currently in circulation
in relation to managing the safety and well being of everyone at school.                                                               Formatted: Font: 10 pt


Asafety and wellbeing on student this; such as risk of harm for children and young people, occupational health and
safety risk management of student, volunteer parents, administration staff and teachers’ workplaces and bullying
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and harassment of all teachers, students and other regular people present on DET sites such as volunteers,
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Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW, Organisational Response Dec 2004                                            4
DET Review of Department Complaints Policy ‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’Anti-harassment Policy (draft)
Organisational Response Oct 2004
parents and administration staff state (Child Care and Protection Act 1998, Occupational Health and Safety 2000
and Anti-Discrimination Act )
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We understand that the Anti-Bullying and Anti-Harassment policies will form part of a set of policies to address                       Formatted: Font: (Default) Arial Narrow
these issues and and recommendations as well as the over aching direction that the artificial separation of student
harassment (bullying) and teacher harassment that these two policies createThis response will refer to the                             Formatted: Font: Not Bold
following documents

Memorandum to Principals 97/227– PROFESSIONAL RESPONSABILITIES OF TEACHERS
(draft) Anti-harassment Policy (01/09/04)
CODE OF CONDUCT (June 2004)

                                                                                                                                       Formatted: Border: Top: (Single solid line,
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That the DET review the draft policies of Ant-harassment (of teachers by students) and the Anti-bullying                               line, Auto, 0.5 pt Line width), Left: (Single solid
policy (of students by other students) in unison and in line with the legislation (state and federal) that                             line, Auto, 0.5 pt Line width, From text: 1 pt
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relates to discrimination, Harassment, Occupational Health and Safety, Anti Vilification etc) and re-                                   0.5 pt Line width, From text: 1 pt Border
develop a draft of a policy document that is inclusive of everyone in schools. One that does not in itself,                            spacing: )
discriminate in which group and which relationships it is addressing. The Federation congratulates the DET                             Formatted: Font: Bold
for promoting social justice and equity in the public education by using current legislation to support the Anti-
harassment Policy.

DET Representatives presented the draft for attendants at a recent consultation. The main points discussed by the
attendants at the consultation were:

Context
   The current (draft) policy document does not protect children against harassment by teaching and other                             Formatted: Bullets and Numbering

        administrative staff whilst they are attending school, on DET property or participating in DET activities.

     The current (draft) policy document does not protect volunteers such as parents and citizen’s members                            Formatted: Bullets and Numbering

        against harassment whilst on DET property or participating in DET activities.

          The current (draft) policy does not protect teaching staff from other teaching or administration staff.                      Formatted: Bullets and Numbering



CONSULTATION WITH FEDERATION COUNCILLORS AND DET                                                                                       Formatted: Font: Bold
The current draft is not inclusive and during a recent consultation with DET and Federation Councillors regarding                      Formatted: Bullets and Numbering
the draft policy, it was made very clear to the DET representatives that this policy in its current form is not
acceptable.

It was agreed at the consultation that this was not acceptable The legislation being used to draft the Anti-
harassment policy was able to includes all of these groups and not simply teachers. If it is the intention of the DET
to create an equitable workplace for teachers, students, administrative staff and parent volunteers, there is a need
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to create a policy document ed to include everyone, not just teachers to demonstrate that equity in a policy
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development, implementation and in the future, review process. if were to demonstrate equity.
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Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW, Organisational Response Dec 2004                                            5
DET Review of Department Complaints Policy ‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’Anti-harassment Policy (draft)
Organisational Response Oct 2004
 It was requested to DET representatives having carriage of the draft policy, that the wording be changed                              Formatted: Font: Bold
to include all persons participating in public education system including students, teachers,                                          Formatted: Bullets and Numbering
administrative staff, parents and volunteers so that the Anti harassment Policy was for everyone (which
would reflect the legislation).
DEFINITIONS                                                                                                                            Formatted: Font: Bold, Not Italic


Generally the definitions in the draft Ant-harassment policy were acceptable as they reflected both the legislation
PROCEDURES AND STANDARDS                                                                                                               Formatted: Font: Bold, Not Italic


It was suggested that the Code of Conduct for Teachers be included here as a reference (in the same way as the
student discipline policy is in section 6.0.2).


The DET Representatives said they could not agree to any of the changes to the policy at the time, document but
that a round table was already arranged with all stakeholders on Wednesday 27 October 2004 that included                               Formatted: Font: Italic
Federation representatives and that many other consultations were going to occur before the final policy was
released.

5. RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1: That the DET write a policy document in the Department’s new policy format.
                                                                                                                                       Formatted: Font: Bold
Recommendation 2: That the new document retained the present format as a procedures manual and re-
issued to all schools.

Recommendation 3: That the DET develop a Teacher focused training and development program that
focuses on resolution and references as part of the current and future teacher training program.

Recommendation 4: That the DET develop a Parent brochure (that can be translated) that focuses on
rights and obligations for parents when making suggestions, complaints and allegations.


7. CONCLUSION                                                                                                                          Formatted: Font: Bold


The Federation believes that this review is an ideal opportunity to improve the tools and resources for both staff                     Formatted: Justified
and parents so that everyone has support to better understand their rights and obligations in law and at school.
We look forward tohopes to contributinge further to the policy’s equitable development to conclusion.




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Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW, Organisational Response Dec 2004                                            6
DET Review of Department Complaints Policy ‘Responding to Suggestions, Complaints and Allegations’Anti-harassment Policy (draft)
Organisational Response Oct 2004

				
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