CHCEDS001 – Comply with legislative, policy and industrial requirements in the education environment
The website has information and documentation relevant for Western Australian workers in the education sector and links to relevant legislation. Policies can be found under the headings of ‘School Management’ such as attendance and behaviour, ‘Human Resources’ such as complaints, leave and recruitment, ‘Corporate Management’ such as copyright, legal issues and policies, ‘Safety and Welfare’, such as health and duty of care and ‘Finance and Administration’ which includes infrastructure, fees and charges.
The Australian Human Rights Commission Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 defines workplace bullying as “repeated unreasonable behaviour by an individual towards a worker which creates a risk to health and safety.” Bullying can be in the form of verbal, psychological or physical abuse. It can come in the form of yelling or offensive language, excluding or intimidating employees, assigning meaningless tasks or impossible jobs to employees, deliberately changing work schedules to inconvenience employees, undermining work performance or withholding information to complete work.
Everyone has the right to attend work in an environment that is safe and supportive and free from bullying, harassment or discrimination. Senior staff and employers have an obligation and responsibility to ensure that complaints are taken seriously and inappropriate workplace behaviour is dealt with promptly and effectively. Policies and procedures need to outline the employees code of conduct and staff should be trained to comply with appropriate workplace etiquette.
Under health and safety legislation, records are required to be kept for access and reference regarding all complaints, incidents, risk and hazard management analysis, training details, safety committee minutes and management committee resolutions.
Workplace procedures and policies are an integral part of running an effective organisation by instructing employees on the correct and preferred way of performing their job roles safely and successfully. Compliance of these procedures produce many benefits in the workplace:
1. They allow an avenue to educate and share new information by updating policies if there has been a procedure change or a legal obligation to comply with new laws.
2. Code of Conduct policies outline expected workplace behaviour to help eliminate incidents of discrimination, bullying, harassment or abuse.
3. Policies outline your role in duty of care that can impact on the welfare and wellbeing of children.
4. Policies can provide details about privacy legislation to ensure you meet all confidentiality laws.
5. Health and safety legislative policies make sure risks and hazards are minimised in the workplace.
Duty of care is your moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of others from harm, bullying, abuse or neglect. Under duty of care, you are not legally bound to report incidences of abuse, but you can be found legally responsible under tort law for not providing care and assistance or for not trying to prevent further harm from happening to children in your care. Always maintain a high standard of care and take reasonable measures to help prevent, protect and foresee any harm that is occurring to children in your care so that you can disclose the information, raise awareness and help stop any future harm taking place.
Under performance in your skills, knowledge and capabilities can have serious implications for the children you are supervising. If you are not carrying out your work to your best of your abilities, then you may neglect to notice a change in a child’s behaviour, a falter in their voice as they speak, evidence in a picture they draw or a new mark on their body. Distraction may cause you to miss vital clues that can help protect a child from harm. If you do not follow workplace rules, policies and procedures due a lack or knowledge or training, then observations, evidence and reporting may not be documented and followed through correctly. This could have implications legally and professionally and may alter the course of justice for the child. You must keep your knowledge up to date and know exactly what is expected in your job role to ensure that the best interests of the child are maintained at all times.
The industrial awards is a ruling by the Australian industrial relations tribunal Fair Work Commission, that grants all employees in one industry or occupation the same minimum wage and conditions. It creates fair and equal rights for all employees in Australia.
The minimum pay rates are outlined for adult and apprenticeship workers that are employed full-time, part-time, casual or on shift work. Overtime benefits are also acknowledged.
Working conditions vary dependent upon the specific occupation, but the industrial awards all govern the hours of work, holiday and sick leave, term and contract of employment, breaks allowed throughout the working day, long service leave, conditions and allowances.
The code of ethics are principals that govern and give guidance to professional and personal decisions made by employees within an organisation. The code outlines ethical and accountable behaviour to ensure everyone is treated with respect, trust and dignity. Children are the most vulnerable to our actions so it is important when working with children to make sure professional and personal decisions are consistently made knowing what is right and wrong and socially responsible.
Although the code develops an understanding of what is expected behaviour in the workplace, decisions you make out of normal working hours may still be seen as misconduct if it negatively impacts upon your ability to perform your work and make objective decisions. Negative behaviour out of working hours may also misconstrue how you are seen professionally amongst your peers and management.
Although all organisations differ in what they are providing to the community, the code of ethics of all companies strive to achieve an outcome of personal best and the responsibility of the greater good of mankind striving to achieve a harmonious world.
Equal employment opportunity means that all people have the right to be given fair consideration for a job, promotion, training or development. Discriminating against people because of their gender, race, colour, age, marital status, parental status, sexual preference, disability or religious beliefs or opinions, can be seen as a violation against the equal employment opportunity legislation.
The aim is to stop discrimination against certain characteristics that will not have any bearing on how well suited or qualified the job applicant or employee may be. This will lead to an environment free of harassment, employment decisions made objectively and a workplace that is diverse in culture and experiences.
Australia’s federal antidiscrimination laws are contained in the following legislation: Age Discrimination Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Anti-discrimination legislation upholds the law to make it illegal to either directly or indirectly discriminate against an individual or group because of their race, colour, religion, beliefs, opinions, socio-economic background, gender or disability.
In a teaching support role, you must adhere to anti-discrimination laws and always conduct yourself with fairness, with respect for others and make your decisions objectively. Consider how your actions and decisions will impact on everyone involved and if an individual or group may be disadvantaged by your proposal, make allowances or change plans accordingly. It is your duty of care to make sure everyone has equal rights and that you create an inclusive environment for students and the whole school community.
Anti-discrimination laws applies to all facets of education from how children are accepted into the school to the education they receive. Anti-discrimination is applied to enrolment applications, suspension of students, examination and training, access to resources and facilities and the treatment of students. The benefits of equal opportunity in a school setting is a greater diversity of staff, teachers and students, creating a richer environment to learn and grow. It will minimise legal costs, conflict and disruption if everyone is treated with fairness and it will provide a school with a reputation for equality.
Anti-discrimination legislation can be understood by reading appropriate material online through the Australian Government Attorney Generals Department where you can access information on federal and state laws. At a school level, you can read the associated manuals and policies that your workplace adhere’s to and if you need further clarification a supervising teacher or school administrator can guide you in finding the answers or clarification you require on a specific matter.
Employers must observe anti-discrimination laws by creating an equal employment opportunity for fair job consideration, promotion, training or development. Discriminating against people because of certain characteristics that will not have any bearing on how well suited or qualified the job applicant or employee may be, is a violation of anti-discrimination laws. By promoting anti-discrimination in the workplace, you will create an inclusive environment free of harassment, employment decisions made objectively and a workplace that is diverse in culture and experiences.
In the classroom, the same laws apply to children. It is your duty of care to make sure all children have equal rights and that you create an inclusive environment for students and the whole school community. The Rights of the Child is proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations to recognise that every child should grow up free of discrimination. The rights of a child underpin everything that we do and are upheld and given special protection due to their vulnerability and innocence. Teaching children the value of inclusiveness and equity will create a better environment for all.
The intent of anti-discrimination laws is to stop inequity against certain characteristics that will not have any bearing on how well suited or qualified a person may be to complete a job, task or function. The laws help to create fair opportunities and equal rights for everyone.
Ethics are principals that guide us professionally and personally that make us accountable for our behaviour and decisions in and out of the workplace. Anti-discrimination is an ethical and moral standpoint and is built into the framework of organisations Code of Ethics and into the Australian legal system. Discrimination should not be tolerated as equality should be the right of all people.
Anti-discrimination legislation makes it it illegal to either directly or indirectly discriminate against an individual or group because of their race, colour, religion, beliefs, opinions, socio-economic background, gender or disability. The Code of Ethics in all organisations, outline ethical and accountable behaviour and principals to ensure everyone is treated with respect, trust and dignity and ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination.
Anti-discrimination laws can be conflicting when interpreting the legislation against freedom of association and exemptions. Certain circumstances are exempt from anti-discrimination laws and relate directly to education.
Freedom of Association is your right to form a group with a common cause or purpose without interference from the government. For example, if a Catholic school wishes only to employ school staff with a Catholic faith, then the school must justify why they should be allowed to choose employees from a particular religious denomination, essentially discriminating against all other faiths. The Freedom of Association law is an exemption to anti-discrimination laws that allows an organisation to justify their decisions rather than the government justifying why they should be prevented from doing so.
Exemptions are accepted when discrimination occurs for a specific purpose on reasonable grounds. Examples of exemptions are:
a. Welfare and equal opportunity measures – provisions are allowed for a disadvantage group to receive special benefit to promote equal opportunity. For example, special education pathways for indigenous Australians.
b. Educational institutions – exemptions to legally exclude students that are not of a particular gender, religion or impairment when the institution caters specifically for a particular gender, religion or impairment.
c. Age – allowing educational programs to set a minimum age or set aside places for mature age students.
d. Special services or facilities – where an education service would be imposed with an unjustifiable hardship, the service would not have to supply special service or facilities for a person with an impairment. Factors that would assume hardship would include the cost of supplying it versus the number of people that would benefit, the financial circumstances of the educational organisation, the disruption or detriment it may cause to all people concerned when supplying or installing the facilities.
e. Sporting activities – once a person turns twelve years, competitive sport can be restricted based on gender with regards to the sports physical strength and stamina requirements. Participation in sport can also restrict a person lawfully based on age or impairment.
Even though there are legally allowed exemptions to the anti-discrimination laws, educational institutions must offer equal opportunity to everyone and make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of all people.
If you are aware of an act of anti-discrimination in the workplace, you should report it and an investigation of the grievance of non-compliance should be done in a prompt and timely manner. The organisations policies and procedure manuals should be followed for best practise in attaining all the information, details and opinions about the affliction which are required to make an informed and objective decision while operating confidentially and respectfully to both parties involved. An internal investigation could be required or more information may be sort from an independent expert, but while this takes place, all measures must be taken to correct the current situation and adhere to anti-discrimination laws. To help prevent further breeches of the law, staff training, changing or introducing new procedures or processes may be required so anti-discrimination laws are followed.
To comply with Australia’s federal antidiscrimination laws contained within the legislation of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984
The school will lawfully abide by anti-discrimination legislation that makes it illegal to either directly or indirectly discriminate against an individual or group because of gender. The school must support gender equality and be responsible and accountable for actions and decisions that discriminate against a person or groups gender. The school has an expectation that male and female students will be equally valued, represented and educated. School staff should make every effort to be gender neutral with the realisation that boys and girls are equally capable of academic and physical education to reach their full potential.
School Management Plan and Responsibilities
* Expectations of achievement to be the same for each gender.
* Expectations of behaviour to be the same for each gender.
* Each gender to have equal opportunity when applying for extension studies.
* Each gender to have equal opportunity when applying for roles withing the classroom and school.
* Each gender to have equal opportunity to be part of sporting teams.
* Eliminate discrimination in textbooks and discussions about stereotypical roles of men and women.
* Educate children about equality of men and woman.
* Educate and train staff to recognise anti-discriminatory behaviour and appropriately respond if necessary.
* Remove any discriminatory or offensive materials.
* Encourage a whole school and community approach to anti-discrimination.
Discrimination will not be tolerated. If you believe there has been a breech of anti-discrimination law or school policy, you should report it immediately.
* Refer to superiors for clarification if a case constitutes discrimination.
* Refer to superiors for your rights and options.
* Report cases promptly, accurately and confidentially.
* Reports will be dealt with within the organisation or handled externally when more serious claims are put forth.
By developing school policies about anti-discrimination laws it ensures all school staff are aware of legislation and understand the expectations of their decisions and behaviours in the workplace. School staff should create an environment where discrimination within the classroom is diminished to achieve equality for all children.
Three case studies of non-compliance to anti-discrimination laws are:
a. A child has been recently diagnosed with Autism. The child’s teacher removes the child from the upcoming assembly item in fear that the child will no longer be able to cope in the school play. This constitutes direct discrimination against a child with a disability.
b. The school policy states that no jewellery is to be worn at school. A young girl wears a Kara bracelet that is worn by all initiated Sikhs. The girl is asked to remove the bracelet even though it is a religious symbol of unbreakable attachment and commitment to God and should only be removed if there is an extreme requirement. This is an example of indirect discrimination against religion and beliefs.
c. A child with low vision who uses Braille to read has the same time to finish the exam as everyone else, even though it takes the child longer to decipher Braille. This is a form on indirect discrimination where one rule applies to everyone, which adversely effects one person.
When you fail to comply with anti-discrimination laws, you unjustly and unfairly victimise a person or group. If you are aware that discrimination has occurred, you should promptly report the incidence as per your organisations policy on reporting procedures.
Anti-discrimination law is an ethically important legislation that upholds the right for every person to be treated equally without prejudice against a persons race, colour, religion, beliefs, opinions, socio-economic background, gender or disability. It is important that you strive to maintain behaviour and decisions that are objective and ethical and not seen as discriminatory. Consider how your actions and decisions will impact on everyone involved and if an individual or group may be disadvantaged by your proposal, make allowances or change plans accordingly. It is important to seek feedback from your employer when you are unsure if your actions have complied with anti-discrimination laws. You can also refer to your organisations policies on anti-discrimination or ask for further training or personal development sessions. It is your duty of care to make sure everyone has equal rights and that you create an inclusive environment for students and the whole school community.