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2.1.9 Reportable Conduct

Last Modified: 11-Apr-2024 Review Date: N/A

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

​The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department of Communities (Communities) is required to meet the obligations of the Reportable Conduct Scheme set out in the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971 (the Parliamentary Commissioner Act). The Reportable Conduct Scheme was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and aims to make children safer by providing independent oversight of how organisations (relevant entities), prevent and respond to reportable conduct by ‘employees’, as broadly defined in the Parliamentary Commissioner Act. The Reportable Conduct scheme commenced on 1 January 2023.

Rules
  • The Reportable Conduct Scheme is overseen by the Ombudsman WA.

  • All current Communities officers and employees can be subject to a Reportable Conduct Report, regardless of whether or not their work is in connection to children.

  • Carers, Interim Carers as well as volunteers and contractors who are engaged to provide services to children, and a person engaged by another person or body to provide services to children on behalf of Communities, can be subject to a Reportable Conduct Report.

  • Current Communities officers and employees must report allegations of reportable conduct and reportable convictions.

  • Any person, including Communities' Carers, Volunteers and Contractors, and persons or bodies engaged by a person to provide services on behalf of Communities, may report allegations of reportable conduct and reportable convictions.

  • Communities must notify the Ombudsman within 7 working days of receiving a report of a reportable allegation or a reportable conviction.

  • Communities must investigate a report of a reportable allegation or reportable conviction  and provide an investigation outcome to the Ombudsman WA, as soon as practicable.

The Reportable Conduct Scheme operates alongside, but separate from, existing Communities processes for reporting and responding to concerns for children and allegations involving employees and carers.

The Reportable Conduct Team, located in Professional Standards, is available for consultation in relation reportable conduct matters. Ring 1800 324 927 or email  reportableconductcommunities@communities.wa.gov.au

Information and Instructions

  • Definitions
  • Reporting Reportable Conduct
  • Investigation Process
  • Reportable Conduct Exemptions
  • Procedural Fairness
  • Resources
  • Definitions

    Reportable Allegation

    A reportable allegation is any information that leads a person to form the belief, on reasonable grounds, that a relevant employee of Communities has engaged in reportable conduct, or conduct that may involve reportable conduct, whether or not the conduct is alleged to have occurred in the course of the employee's employment.

    Reportable Conduct

    Reportable conduct means:

    • A sexual offence committed against, with or in the presence of a child.

    • Sexual misconduct against, with or in the presence of a child that is not a sexual offence. This can include grooming behaviour, sharing pornographic material and inappropriate discussion of sexual behaviour.

    • Physical assault (the intentional or reckless application of physical force without justification or any act that causes another person to apprehend immediate violence) against, with or in the presence of a child. This includes the use of actual physical force as well as threatening to physically harm a child through words and/or gestures.

    • Other prescribed offences.

    From 1 January 2024 the definition of reportable conduct will expand to also include:

    • Significant neglect of a child

    • Any behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child.

    Reportable conduct does not include:

    • Conduct that is reasonable for the discipline, management or care of a child, or a person in the presence of a child, having regard to the child's age, health and developmental stage and relevant professional standards.

    • Conduct that is trivial or negligible that is investigated and recorded as part of another workplace procedure.

    • Conduct that the Ombudsman WA may exempt, which has to be published on the website.

    Reportable Conviction

    A reportable conviction is a conviction for a sexual offence committed against, with, or in the presence of a child, or other prescribed offences. A conviction includes a spent conviction.  A reportable conviction is a conviction in any Australian jurisdiction.

    Period

    The scheme captures reportable conduct whether or not it occurred before, on or after 1 January 2023.

    Employees

    An employee, as broadly defined in the Section 19D of the Parliamentary Commissioner  Act, is a person, 18 years or older, currently engaged by Communities as:

    • An officer or employee, whether or not their work role is connected to children.

    • A carer defined as a person who provides care for a child under a placement arrangement (s 3 Children and Community Services Act 2004).

    • A volunteer or contractor engaged to provide services to children.

    • A person engaged by another person or body to provide services to children on behalf of the entity, including as a volunteer or contractor.

    • A family day care educator or family day care educator assistant engaged by or registered with the entity.

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    Reporting Reportable Conduct


    All current Communities employees and officers, regardless of their role, must report reportable conduct if they become aware of information that leads them to form the belief, on reasonable grounds, that a current Communities employee, as defined above, has engaged in reportable conduct, or conduct that may involve reportable conduct, whether or not the conduct is alleged to have occurred in the employee's employment.

    All current Communities employees and officers, regardless of their role, if they become aware, must report a reportable conviction of an employee, as defined above, as soon as is practicable.


    Reportable Conduct can be reported to Communities by:

    The Duty of Care Team and/or the Misconduct Assessment Team (MAT) ensure that any allegations received in relation to carers and employees are referred to the Reportable Conduct Team.

    All reports are received and assessed by the Reportable Conduct Team which will:

    • Ensure any concerns for the child/ren have been reported to the Central Intake Team or relevant District Office.

    • Lodge a notification with the Ombudsman within 7 working days. 

    • Advise the relevant District Director/s or Business Unit Manager a Reportable Conduct Notification has been lodged.

    • Coordinate the response to any additional requests for information from the Ombudsman WA.

    • Ensure the employee subject to the reportable allegation or reportable conviction, is advised in writing that a reportable allegation has been made in relation to their conduct or that a report has been made of a reportable conviction.

    • Investigate the reportable allegation or reportable conviction and comply with the requirements under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971.

    The Ombudsman WA must be notified of all reportable conduct reports within 7 working days. 

    The Reportable Conduct team are responsible for notifying the Ombudsman and ensuring the requirements under the Reportable Conduct Scheme are met.


    Protection for reporters

    There are protections in place for notifiers of reportable allegations and reportable convictions under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act  including:

    • Protection from liability for giving information in good faith.

    • Protection from victimisation; and

    • A penalty (2 years imprisonment or a fine of $8,000) for publishing information, where not authorised, that identifies or is likely to identify a person who has made a report under the Scheme. 

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    Investigation Process

    The Parliamentary Commissioner Act defines an investigation to include any preliminary or other inquiry into, or examination of, the matter.

    The Reportable Conduct Scheme operates alongside Communities existing processes for responding to concerns for children, allegations of harm by carers and reports of potential staff misconduct.

    The Reportable Conduct Team will ensure all reportable allegations have been referred to the appropriate District or Business Unit for assessment and investigation. This includes ensuring that:

    • Allegations of harm to children are referred to the Central Intake Team or the relevant District Office.

    • Allegations of potential staff misconduct are referred to the MAT and/or Professional Standards Investigations.

    • Consultation occurs with the Duty of Care Team in relation to allegations of harm to children in care by approved foster carers and employees providing direct care.

    At the conclusion of Communities' assessment and investigation processes the Reportable Conduct Team will prepare a Reportable Conduct Investigation Report for the Ombudsman. The report may be informed by the information of Communities' assessment and investigation processes including any:

    • Interaction, Initial Inquiry or Child Safety Investigation including a review report.

    • Referral to MAT.

    • Professional Standards Investigation.

    • Carer Investigation and any applicable review.

    • Carer Standard of Care Assessment.

    • Police investigation.

    • Any other enquiry, investigation or assessment processes.

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    Reportable Conduct Exemptions

    The Ombudsman (WA) may exempt Communities from starting or continuing an investigation if:  

    • The report is frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith.

    •  The matter is already being dealt with or investigated by another appropriate body.

    • The CEO of Communities is required by law to comply with the directions of another person or body in relation to the investigation of the matter.

    • The CEO of Communities is requested or directed by another appropriate person or body to discontinue, for a time, or cease the investigation.

    The Reportable Conduct Team will prepare an exemption request letter, for consideration by the Ombudsman, for any reportable allegation or reportable conviction that meets the exemption criteria.

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    Procedural Fairness

    If over 18 years of age, any current Communities employee or officer, whether or not they work in connection with children, can be subject to a reportable conduct report.  If over 18 years of age, a carer, or volunteer and contractor engaged by Communities that provides services to children, or a person engaged by another person or body to provide services on behalf of the entity,  can be subject to a reportable conduct report.


    The Reportable Conduct Scheme provides for procedural fairness to be afforded to persons the subject of a Reportable Conduct report and investigation. Procedural fairness is provided by offering an opportunity to respond to the reportable conduct allegations or reportable conviction before any adverse finding has been made.

    Procedural fairness must be afforded at three stages of the investigation and decision-making process:

    • An employee must be informed that they are the subject of an investigation and of the reportable allegation or reportable conviction being investigated, and given the opportunity to respond to the reportable allegations or reportable conviction being investigated by making a submission, preferably in writing.

    • Inform the employee of any proposed adverse finding and give them an opportunity to make submissions about the proposed finding.

    • If any disciplinary or other action is proposed in relation to the employee, as the result of any adverse findings from the investigation, inform the employee in writing of the action that is proposed to be taken, and give the employee an opportunity to make submissions in relation to the proposed action. 

    Support

    Being subject to a reportable conduct report and investigation can be distressing. Employees, as defined under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act to include carers, volunteers and contractors, should be provided with information on appropriate and available support services including the Employee Assistance Program and, where relevant, the Foster Care Association. 

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    Resources

    Legislation  Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971

    Reportable Conduct Policy (related resources)

    WA Ombudsman - Reportable Conduct Scheme

    Telephone: (08) 9220 7555

    Email: reportableconduct@ombudsman.wa.gov.au

    Website: www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au

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