Staff Professional Conduct
Policy 2021

Forming part of: Giant Steps Tasmania’s Personnel Manual

STAFF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT POLICY, 2021

Forming part of: Giant Steps Tasmania’s Personnel Manual

Policy Statement

Giant Steps Tasmania aims to provide services for students on the Autism Spectrum which meet best contemporary practice, as defined by The Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders http://www.autismadvisoryboard.org.au/. It aims to do so in a manner that is consistently caring and professional.

Staff at Giant Steps Tasmania adhere to the school’s Charter of Commitment to Children & Young People which is available on the school’s website and which is regularly discussed and revised with input from all stake holders.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set out the professional conduct which will best meet organisational aims and the needs of the students of Giant Steps Tasmania.

Implementation

BELIEFS

In carrying out their roles and responsibilities, staff will adhere to the school’s ethos which is underpinned by the principles of:

  • Dignity
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Empathy, and
  • Justice

Giant Steps Tasmania operates for the benefit of its students. Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff believe that the students are best served in an environment where staff members are ethical, reflective and professional in their outlook and practice.

This means that members of staff agree on the importance of the following:

  • Putting the needs and best interests of their students at the heart of everything they do;
  • Working in a collegial manner;
  • Carrying out their duties in a competent, conscientious and effective manner;
  • Taking responsibility for their actions;
  • Continually aiming to improve their knowledge and practice;
  • Avoiding and preventing discrimination;
  • Maintaining confidentiality;
  • Using the property of Giant Steps Tasmania appropriately;
  • Complying with state and federal law.

CONDUCT

Members of Giant Steps Tasmania staff must:

  • be familiar with and adhere to the policies and procedures of Giant Steps Tasmania;
  • comply promptly, conscientiously and effectively with all lawful and reasonable decisions and directions given by a person having the necessary authority (see organisational chart below);
  • treat colleagues, students, parents and other members of the public in a sensitive manner, respecting their rights and dignity;
  • not behave in ways that could be considered offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening;
  • remember that they are a role model of appropriate behaviour;
  • act promptly in reporting breaches of State or Commonwealth law and the policies of Giant Steps Tasmania;
  • maintain the accuracy, integrity and appropriate confidentially of all information used in their professional dealings at Giant Steps Tasmania;
  • not discuss a student’s progress with anyone without the authority to have that information;
  • not talk about a student in his/her presence;
  • publicly support all official decisions made at the school, while being aware that opportunities exist for expressing different views through appropriate channels;
  • dress appropriately (see Dress Code below).

Giant Steps Tasmania Organisation Chart

Organisation Chart
Organisation Chart



DRESS CODE FOR STAFF

Clothing must preserve the safety of the wearer and others. Dress, personal appearance and hygiene are also important elements of professional presentation, so clothing must be clean, tidy and neat and must not carry offensive logos or slogans.

Staff are expected to adhere to the following dress code.

The following items are appropriate for wearing at school :

  • All items of Giant Steps Tasmania clothing;
  • Trousers, jeans, tracksuit pants and leggings;
  • Long-length shorts;
  • Work shirts, collared shirts, skivvies, polo shirts, t-shirts;
  • Covered shoes;
  • Plain jackets, jumpers, coats, beanies, gloves and scarves;

Broad or wide-brimmed hats must be worn by all staff members during outdoor activities including playground time and walks during Terms 1 and 4 and at any other time designated by the Principal.

The following items are not appropriate for wearing at school :

  • stirrup pants, skins and gym wear
  • short shorts, cut-offs and board shorts
  • singlets (vests)
  • ties and necklaces
  • caps and visors
  • open-toed sandals and thongs
  • brooches and pins

Staff are advised:

  • to wear studs in piercings to protect themselves from accidental injury when interacting with students (except when in the pool, when studs must be removed);
  • to consider whether the wearing of button-through shirts and blouses could cause embarrassment to themselves, students, or other staff if accidental damage occurred when they were interacting with students;
  • for their own comfort, to consider keeping a change of clothes in school/ with them on excursions, if they think the activities they may be involved in could result in their clothes becoming soiled.

ACCREDITATION

All members of Giant Steps Tasmania staff must:

  • provide the Board/ the Principal when requested with original copies of all certificates they state they possess relating their suitability for the post they have been offered or that they are undertaking
  • possess a working with children registration in compliance with the Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act, 2013.

Any staff member who fails to obtain working with children registration will have their contract terminated.

DUTY OF CARE

Staff have a duty of care to protect others from harm and to support those who have been harmed. Members of Giant Steps Tasmania staff will promote the safety, welfare and well-being of students, students’ families and other employees.

All members of the Giant Steps Tasmania community have a right to a physical and emotional environment that is free from unreasonable risk of harm. Among other things, harm can be caused by:

  • Physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect;
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation;
  • Domestic or family abuse;
  • Bullying, or
  • A person’s own actions (self-harm).

Staff should be alert to signs of such harm and follow the steps of the Mandatory Reporting Policy incorporated in the Safeguarding Policy.

Corporal punishment is prohibited at Giant Steps, Tasmania and any staff member who uses it will have their contract terminated.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

Staff must not discriminate against or harass their colleagues, students or members of the public on the grounds of gender, marital status, pregnancy, age, race, ethnic or national origin, physical, intellectual or developmental impairment, or sexual preference. Such harassment or discrimination may constitute an offence under the Anti-Discrimination Act. In addition, staff must not harass or discriminate on the grounds of political or religious conviction.

SEXUAL APPROPRIACY

Employees interactions with students must be, and must be seen to be, appropriate and professional at all times.

Employees must not attempt to sexualize a relationship with a student. To do so is a breach of trust, an abuse of authority, professional misconduct, immoral and criminal. This is particularly relevant in the context of Giant Steps Tasmania where our students are particularly vulnerable. Examples of sexual misconduct include the following:

  • Unwarranted and inappropriate touching of students;
  • Suggestive remarks or actions of a sexual nature;
  • Sexual exhibitionism;
  • Obscene gestures, language, jokes containing sexual references;
  • Inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature;
  • Deliberate exposure of students to the sexual behaviour of others, including pornographic material;
  • Flirtatious behaviour directed at a student.

Staff behaviour to each other and to parents/ carers must be respectful and professional at all times.

USE OF TOBACCO, ALCOHOL, OTHER DRUGS AND MEDICATION

  • In accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, staff must ensure that their use of alcohol and drugs does not affect their work performance or endanger the health and safety of others. This also means that staff who are on medication must ensure that it is safely stored during the time when they have responsibility for students.
  • Smoking when responsible for students on or off-site is prohibited.
  • Being under the influence of illicit drugs when responsible for students on or off-site is prohibited.
  • Employees must not provide students with alcohol or drugs and must not condone the illegal use of alcohol or drugs or the excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • At the request of parents, qualified employees are authorised to administer prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications with written parental consent, a drug chart supplied by a suitably qualified medical professional and, where appropriate, medication supplied in a Webster Pack.

PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY

All staff members have a duty to protect the confidentiality of the students and their families, other staff members and information pertaining to the business operations of Giant Steps Tasmania.

All staff members have an obligation to ensure that:

  • All personal and medical files are secure from unauthorised access and are locked away each evening.
  • All formal and informal conversations in public places do not breach client confidentiality.

Personnel files are confidential. Staff members wishing to view their own personnel file may do so within the Principal’s or Business & Administration Manager’s office.

Staff will not keep images of students on a personal camera, phone or other device for longer than 24 hours and such images will never be uploaded onto any social media site without the permission of the parent/ carer.

SICK LEAVE AND CARER’S LEAVE

Giant Steps Tasmania notes the information provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman regarding paid sick leave and carer’s leave.

“An employer can ask an employee to give evidence that shows the employee took the leave because they:

  • weren’t able to work because of an illness or injury, or
  • needed to provide care or support to an immediate family or household member (because of an illness, injury, or unexpected emergency affecting the member).

Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work.

An employee who doesn't give their employer evidence when asked may not be entitled to be paid for their sick or carer’s leave.”

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/sick-and-carers-leave/paid-sick-and-carers-leave/notice-and-medical-certificates

Giant Steps Tasmania does not generally require staff to provide a medical certificate for sick leave or carer’s leave of one day, believing that its staff do not abuse the system and only take sick leave and carer’s leave when necessary. However, should a pattern of absences be noted (e.g. if a member of staff is regularly absent from work on a particular day of the week, or for a day in each of a number of consecutive weeks) then the school reserves the right to ask for a medical certificate for every absence.

Any absence as a result of a staff member needing to take sick leave or carer’s leave on a day designated as a Training or PD Day, requires a certificate from a medical professional.

USE OF GIANT STEPS TASMANIA’S RESOURCES

Employees must ensure that all school equipment, resources and consumable items are used appropriately for the work and business of the school. All equipment should be maintained and used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Limited and occasional private use of Giant Steps Tasmania’s equipment and resources may be permitted occur providing that such use does not adversely affect the performance of the employee’s work duties, or the work duties of others, or the business or reputation of the school. Examples of where private use might be permitted include:

  • Limited, occasional and brief personal telephone calls,
  • Limited and occasional personal use of a photocopier,
  • Limited and occasional personal use of computers, email and internet subject to Giant Steps Tasmania’s Technology Policy.

Employees must have approval from the principal or his delegate to use Giant Steps Tasmania’s equipment and resources off-site for private use and must ensure that they are safely stored and secured.

BREACHES OF THE STAFF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT POLICY

Potential breaches of the Staff Professional Conduct Policy, including apparent breaches and allegations, will be dealt with in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice.

Employees should be aware that the Principal and/or the Board may apply sanctions if this policy is breached. Depending on the nature of the breach, sanctions such as the following may apply:

  • Appropriate warnings
  • Performance Counselling
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal
  • Bringing of criminal charges or civil action.

Authorised by:

Mr. Paul Bowman

Position:

Chair of Board

Signature:

Date:

Developed by:

Chris Jacobsen

Position:

Education Administrator

Date developed:

March - August 2016

Date of review:

September, 2021

Date for next review:

October, 2023


BREACH OF STAFF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT POLICY: Procedures

INFORMAL : PERFORMANCE COUNSELLING

Formal disciplinary procedures can often be avoided by early recognition of and attention to emerging issues.

Performance Counselling may mean that more formal procedures are unnecessary. A climate of collegial support that emphasises professional growth and development underpins these procedures.

The Performance Counselling meeting is a private and confidential meeting held in a non-threatening manner between the Principal and the member of staff who may be in breach of the Code of Conduct. It aims to make possible a reasonable discussion between adults and forms part of good management practice. Staff can seek the advice/support of a third party or union representative during the Performance Counselling process.

A Performance Counselling Meeting is always about a particular issue relating to the Professional Conduct Policy and is called as soon as the Principal becomes aware of it. Its purpose is to facilitate an immediate resolution and/or ongoing improvement.

Performance Counselling involves five key steps:

  • Creating the right environment for successful communication
  • Identifying the issue and its context
  • Establishing shared commitment to find a solution
  • Providing sufficient time and resources
  • Ensuring effective follow-up and support

In a Performance Counselling Meeting between the Principal and a staff member, the staff member is informed of the nature of the issue in as much detail as possible and is given the opportunity to respond.

The process consists of the following steps:

• Preliminary meeting

• Negotiated action plan

• Final meeting for closure and feedback

The process is normally limited to no more than 5 school weeks or as agreed by the parties. The outcome of this process will not be placed on the Staff Member’s School file.

FORMAL INVESTIGATION

Sometimes an Informal Meeting cannot resolve a problem, or the negotiated Action Plan is not followed. Sometimes the issue or allegation may be so serious (e.g. a Child Protection issue) that an Informal Meeting is not appropriate. In this case a Formal Investigation is required. This will be led by the Principal and/ or the Chair of the Board. It will also involve witness statements.

Any member of the school community, including parents/ carers, volunteers, contractors and visitors may raise a complaint/ accusation requiring formal investigation. The complaint/ accusation will usually be made in writing. The Principal and Board strongly discourage anonymous allegations as they make thorough investigation problematic for the school and for external agencies who might need to be involved. However, if the person making the complaint/ accusation wishes their name not to be divulged to the person against whom the allegation is made during the time that the matter is being considered within the school, they should make this clear in their submission and the Principal/ Chair of Board will do their best to honour these wishes. It must however be noted that if the matter involves external agencies, it would be up to these agencies to decide whether the name of the person making the complaint/ accusation should be divulged.

The Principal and/ or Chair of Board:

  • Obtains written record of events, dates, times, places, witnesses and action.
  • Clarifies details of the behaviour.
  • Explains the process of investigation.
  • Provides the staff member with a copy of the Grievance Policy.
  • Records interview, obtains signatures, retains a copy and distributes a copy.

At the first contact the Principal/ Chair of Board only raises the issue.

At the first meeting the Principal/ Chair of Board:

  • supplies a copy of the written allegation and advises the staff member to think the issues through
  • informs the staff member of their right to have a support person/ union representative with them at the formal meeting
  • provides the staff member with a copy of the Grievance Policy.

Before the Formal Meeting (at least 5 working days’ notice will be given), the Principal and/ or the Chair of the Board:

  • meets with witnesses/ support people of the staff member being investigated any person/ people making a complaint against that person;
  • arranges an interview time and explains why they are needed;
  • emphasises the need for confidentiality;
  • explains there will be no repercussions or victimisation;
  • records the interviews, obtains signatures.

At the Formal Meeting attended by the Principal and/ or Chair of Board, the staff member involved and her/ his support person/ union representative, the Principal/ Chair of Board:

  • repeats the allegations and detail
  • informs the staff member of the expected process and possible outcomes
  • discusses accusations and witness statements
  • hears the staff member’s response
  • reaches a decision about the allegation/ issue
  • records the outcome of the meeting
  • has the record signed by those present

After the meeting the Principal/ Chair of Board:

  • gives copies of the record to those present and puts one copy on the school file
  • meets with any people who raised the issue, witnesses and support people who gave statements and informs them of the outcome
  • re-emphasises the need for confidentiality;
  • explains again there will be no repercussions or victimisation.

Possible Outcomes of the Formal Meeting might include one or more of the following:

  • A determination that the staff member has followed all school policies and has done nothing wrong
  • The staff member making a verbal apology
  • The staff member receiving counselling/mediation/support (if this has not already been offered for this issue)
  • The staff member making a written apology
  • The staff member receiving a formal written warning (After 2 formal written warnings an employee’s contract will be terminated)
  • The matter being referred to an external agency