25 September 2023

Ombudsman reports on Reportable Conduct

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The ACT Ombudsman has called on all Directorates and other Government and non-Government organisations dealing with children to learn from his Office’s recent investigation into a matter under the ACT Reportable Conduct Scheme.

The Ombudsman, Michael Manthorpe, said his investigation related to an allegation of reportable conduct in the Education Directorate concerning a teacher’s interaction with a student.

“My Office investigates in private, “ Mr Manthorpe said, “ but I have decided to make this public statement about the investigation because … some of the issues we discovered, and some of the recommendations set out below, may be equally of benefit to other organisations covered by the scheme.”

He said the scheme was introduced in July last year to improve organisation-related child protection and his Office’s investigation into the Education Directorate was its first.

“Given the sensitive nature of reportable conduct matters, we will not provide any further details on the nature of the allegation,” Mr Manthorpe said

He said that while many employment relationships were governed by industrial agreements which set out how allegations of employee misconduct were investigated, “allegations of reportable conduct are different.”

He said employee misconduct investigations focused on the duties and rights of and employee whereas reportable conduct investigations were ultimately about the safety of children.

Among the lessons learned from his first investigation, the Ombudsman said the opportunity to share information between Agencies was “of most importance” and that some staff members in the Directorate did not have a clear understanding of their obligations under the reportable conduct scheme.

“I made seven recommendations to the Directorate,” Mr Manthorpe said.

“I encourage other organisations covered by the scheme to also consider these recommendations.”

The recommendations form part of the Ombudsman’s 4-page public statement which can be accessed at this PS News link.

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