6 NOVEMBER 2019
The Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) recognises its function to consider child safety and wellbeing is a very serious responsibility. It aligns with VIT's vision for all Victorian children and young people to have the best teachers, and plays a vital role in upholding and protecting the integrity of the profession.
From 1 September 2019, amendments to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 came into effect, requiring
- principals and early childhood managers to provide certain information to VIT
- registered teachers to provide certain information to VIT and Working with Children Check Victoria (WWCCV)
- VIT to closely align its registration scheme with the Working with Children (WWC) Check scheme.
This means VIT has changed the way it registers and regulates teachers in Victoria. In particular, VIT now assesses certain types of conduct to determine whether a person is suitable to be registered, or to remain registered, as a teacher. These assessments are in addition to the previous existing ways in which we assess the suitability of teachers.
These changes require VIT to assess a teacher's suitability in a way that more closely aligns with the assessments made under the Working with Children Act 2005 and improve information sharing with WWCCV.
For more information on the reporting obligations of teachers, principals and early childhood managers, read our changes to VIT’s teacher registration scheme.
For more information on how VIT more closely aligns with the WWC Check scheme, read our frequently asked questions.
In line with the legislative changes, VIT has taken disciplinary actions where required. Below are three real case studies that showcase the potential impact on teachers and how VIT administers its duties. Please note: the language has been modified to de-identify all parties.
Warning: the content in these case studies may be confronting to some readers – discretion is advised. VIT is sharing this information to demonstrate the importance of its role in providing for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. If you are affected by the nature of these case studies, you can seek support by visiting 1800RESPECT.org.au or calling 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Case Study 1
The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 states that all teacher registrations held by a person are cancelled if they have been given a negative notice under the Working with Children Act 2005. A negative notice is issued to a person who has applied for a WWC Check and has been assessed as unsuitable to engage in child related work. They are also disqualified from teaching in a school or early childhood service, and are not entitled to apply to be registered as a teacher for a period of 5 years from the date on which the negative notice was given.
VIT received a notification from WWCCV that a registered teacher had been issued with a negative notice under the Working with Children Act 2005.
As required by law, VIT issued a Notice of Cancellation of Registration and Disqualification from Teaching to the teacher. The cancellation in registration meant the teacher was not exempt from a WWC Check. In accordance with the law, VIT also notified the person’s employer, teacher registration authorities in all other states and territories of the Commonwealth and in New Zealand, WWCCV and Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria of the cancellation of the teacher’s registration.
VIT removed the name of the person from the register of teachers and included an entry on the Register of Disciplinary Action stating that the registration of the teacher has been cancelled and they were disqualified from teaching in a school or early childhood service because they had been given a negative notice. VIT also published its decision to cancel the registration of the teacher and disqualify them from teaching in the Government Gazette.
Case Study 2
The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 states that VIT must refuse an application for registration if the person has been charged, convicted or found guilty of a category A offence. Category A offences are very serious offences including sexual offences committed by adults against children, grooming, murder, and rape.
A person made an application for registration as a teacher. As part of the application, the person consented to VIT conducting a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (NCCHC). VIT conducted the check and received information that the person had been convicted of rape (category A offence) in 2010 and was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment by the County Court of Victoria.
Before refusing the application for registration, VIT issued the person a Notice of Intention to Refuse Registration and provided them with 14 days in which to make submissions to VIT.
VIT did not receive a submission from the person within the time provided, and therefore refused the person's application for registration. VIT notified the person of its decision to refuse their application for registration in writing.
Case Study 3
The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 permits VIT to suspend the registration of a teacher if they have been charged with a category B offence. Category B offences are serious offences such sexual offences against an adult, violent offences, and some drug related offences.
VIT received a notification from the Victoria Police that a registered teacher had been charged with supplying a drug of dependence to a 16 year old child (category B offence).
When VIT contacted Victoria Police for further information, the Victoria Police advised that
- the registered teacher admitted to having an addiction to cannabis and methamphetamines, and in order to financially support their addiction, they began selling drugs
- the police had been conducting surveillance in the city and a police officer had observed the registered teacher passing a small quantity of cannabis to a person who appeared to be under 18 years of age
- the person who appeared under the age of 18 years then handed the registered teacher a $50 note
- the police intercepted the person who received the small quantity of cannabis and the person admitted to being 16 years of age.
- the police arrested the registered teacher and took them to the police station for questioning, where the registered teacher made admissions to selling the cannabis to the 16 year old child.
After receiving further information from the Victoria Police about the nature of the offending, VIT's CEO intended to suspend the registration of the teacher. VIT notified the registered teacher of the intention to suspend their registration due to the category B offence, and provided the teacher with 28 days to make submissions to VIT showing they did not pose an unjustifiable risk to children and that they were fit to teach. As required by law, a copy of this notice of intention to suspend registration was also provided to the teacher’s employer.
VIT received a submission from the registered teacher advising they were struggling with the breakdown of their relationship, and had turned to drugs to manage the psychological pain. The teacher was also receiving assistance from a GP and psychologist, and was on a waiting list for a residential rehabilitation program. The CEO considered the submission and, considering the charges related to selling drugs to a child, decided to suspend the teacher’s registration.
VIT notified the teacher, the teacher’s employer and WWCCV of the decision to suspend the teacher's registration.