Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) strives for excellent standards in all areas of its operations. To achieve this, employees, volunteers and contractors (‘staff’) are expected to comply with this Code of Conduct.
Compliance with all College Policies, Procedures and Requirements
Staff are required to observe and comply with all PLC policies and procedures at all times during the course of their employment. It is the responsibility of all staff to know College policies and procedures and to remain abreast of changes to such documents. The College will provide notification of changes and updates as and when they occur.
Staff are expected to take an active part in the general life of the College by supporting policies, procedures, aims and objective in order to facilitate the day-to-day operation and promote a high quality of education and service delivery.
All staff working at PLC have both a common law ‘duty of care’ and statutory obligations regarding child protection. There are five types of child abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and neglect.
Every child and young person has a right to be protected from sexual abuse. Sexual abuse in relation to a child includes sexual behaviour in circumstances where:
(a) the child is the subject of bribery, coercion, a threat, exploitation or violence; or
(b) the child has less power than another person involved in the behaviour; or
(c) there is a significant disparity in the developmental function or maturity of the child and another person involved in the behaviour.
Grooming is considered a form of sexual abuse and is defined as: actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child to lower the child’s inhibitions in preparation for engaging in sexual activity with the child. Any form of sexual abuse must be reported.
Staff are expected to observe professional boundaries including emotional, relationship, power, communication and physical boundaries. Refer to the Child Protection Policy for more information on staff expectation and on reporting abuse.
The following statements are not an exhaustive list, rather they provide staff with examples of inappropriate interactions with students.
Staff must not:
- Engage in any form of inappropriate behaviour towards students or expose students to such behaviour.
- Use prejudice, oppressive behaviour or inappropriate language with students.
- Express personal views on cultures, race or sexuality in the presence of students or discriminate against any student based on culture, race, ethnicity or disability.
- Engage in open discussions of an adult nature in the presence of students.
- Engage in any form of sexual conduct with a student including making sexually suggestive comments and sharing sexually suggestive material.
- Engage in inappropriate or unnecessary physical conduct or behaviours including doing things of a personal nature that a student can do for themselves, such as toileting or changing clothes.
- Engage in contact with students through social media or technology that is not of a work-related matter.
The two following questions may be useful in determining if your conduct should be altered in any way:
- Would I modify my behaviour if a colleague was present?
- How would I feel about explaining my actions at a staff meeting?
Boundaries are not always clear. There are “grey areas”. Actions often have the potential to be perceived by others in unintended ways. Staff working with children have the power. It is ultimately the staff member’s responsibility not to misuse it. If in doubt staff members should err on the side of caution and seek advice from their line leader.
Mandatory Reporting Obligations
Commencing from January 2009, teachers and boarding supervisors are required by law to make a mandatory report of child sexual abuse when a belief, based on reasonable grounds, is formed that sexual abuse is occurring or has occurred. This applies to staff working in a paid or unpaid capacity as a teacher, school nurse and / or boarding staff.
Staff who are not teachers, school nurses or boarding supervisors must report all forms of abuse to the school Principal or, if the Principal is named in the allegation,to the Chair of Council. Sexual abuse that occurred before 1 January 2009 is not considered a mandatory report but must be reported to the Principal.
In the case where a former student (still under the age of 18), or the parent or guardian of a former student, makes an allegation about child sexual abuse at the School occurring before 2009, the Department of Communities – Child Protection Service is to be informed immediately. An allegation involving a former student who is now aged 18 or over is reportable to the Police. In either case, the Principal must submit a critical incident report to the Director General, Department of Education and may also be required to notify the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia.
Personal and professional behaviour must conform to the standards that could reasonably be expected of such persons employed or associated with PLC.
- Staff are required to follow any lawful and reasonable direction made by the College or its representatives.
- Staff are expected to report any breach of the Code of Conduct they witness to the Principal or a member of the Senior Leadership Team as soon as reasonably practicable.
- Contractors and volunteers must be aware of and comply with the Contractor and Volunteer Code of Conduct.
Interactions with Students and their Families
In accordance with the College’s Mission, Vision and Values, staff will:
- Provide a supportive, stimulating and effective environment that empowers and encourages students to reach their potential;
- Treat students with respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity and, wherever possible, involve them in decisions that affect them;
- Provide accurate, timely and useful information to students in relation to their course of study, co-curricular activities, policies and processes;
- Provide an environment free from discrimination and harassment in which students, staff and parents feel safe and comfortable;
- Provide a clear statement of acceptable academic requirements and behaviours by students;
- Be committed to the ethical values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility in their interactions with students;
- Support the contribution of students and their families to the life of the College;
- Remain abreast of current knowledge and trends in education and specific subjects through participation in relevant professional development activities and membership of professional organisations.
The college recognises Psychologists and Nursing staff are subject to additional professional codes which may override parts of this code.
Respect and Support
Staff must treat each other, students, and other individuals in the PLC community in a fair, respectful and equitable manner. Examples of behaviour that are unacceptable include:
- Communication in offensive or aggressive tones;
- Rude or insulting behaviour;
- Sarcastic comments;
- Making decisions based on favouritism;
- Misuse of power through positions held to disadvantage or inhibit other staff members in fulfilling their duties.
Staff must ensure they contribute positively to an environment free of discrimination and harassment. This requires the implementation of fair and transparent practices of decision making, not influenced by irrelevant and unlawful attributes, as prescribed by anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying legislation.
Conflicts of Interest and Outside Activities
Staff should avoid situations where personal interest conflicts with the best interest of the College. This may involve outside employment or a business that a staff member, family members or friends engage in that involves PLC, a student or another staff member. It may involve a competitor of PLC or one of its suppliers.
Employment or professional activities, other than those undertaken as part of a staff member’s role at PLC, must not negatively impact their ability to perform their College duties or undermine, compromise or create a conflict of interest with obligations, duties and values of the College. Outside employment must be discussed with the Principal on every occasion as per the Conflict of Interest Policy.
Corrupt, Improper and Criminal Conduct
Staff must discharge their duties with honesty and integrity and refrain from any corrupt, improper or criminal conduct. Staff must report known and suspected instances of corrupt, improper or criminal conduct to their, line leader, to a member of the Senior Leadership Team or through other appropriate reporting mechanisms.
Staff must advise the Principal if they are charged with a criminal offence.
Staff must use all PLC’s resources, including both virtual and physical resources in line with appropriate College policies and avoid any waste of resources. They must safeguard, properly use, protect and care for PLC resources both physical and virtual, at all times.
The Principal, or their delegate is the spokesperson for the College. Unless authorised specifically to do so, staff must not make public comment on behalf of the College or in a context where a comment could be interpreted as a statement on behalf of the College.
All documents must be prepared and presented in a professional format in keeping with the College style guide and accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation must be maintained.
The PLC College logo and letterhead must not be used for any non-school related documents and must not be used for written references without the Principal’s permission.
Public communications must be approved by the Principal.
Social Media and Technology
Whether using social media for work or in a private capacity staff must not do or say anything that may adversely affect their standing as an employee of PLC. Use of social media and technology must not negatively impact the reputation of other staff or bring PLC into disrepute.
Staff must only ever engage with students through technology or social media for work related purposes. Refer to the Child Protection section of this code for more information.
Privacy & Security
Staff must not make improper use of information gained by being a staff member. They must ensure that personal information including data relating to other staff, students or members of the PLC community is collected, stored and used in accordance with privacy legislation and College policies and procedures, including records management practices.
Staff are required to change their password on a regular basis and as requested by ILT. Passwords must be kept confidential and never shared.
Staff are required to retain the confidentiality of all PLC information and take appropriate steps to prevent unauthorised disclosure. These obligations apply equally to other people’s confidential information (be they students, other staff, suppliers or family members) that is provided as a result of their employment.
Engagement with Partners and Communities
In interacting with any external party, staff will do so in the knowledge that they are a representative of PLC and their personal and professional behaviour will conform to the standards that could be reasonably expected of employees of the College in such situations. Staff conduct will at all times demonstrate regard to the College’s interests.
Communication in the workplace, whether verbal or written must conform to acceptable standards of behaviour at all times. It must not harm or damage the College’s or an individual’s reputation or standing with staff, students or the PLC Community.
Examples of unacceptable behaviour are statements, either written or verbal, that deride, insult or denigrate.
Staff will acknowledge their responsibilities and obligations under occupational safety and health (OSH) laws and agree to take reasonable and practicable precautions to manage hazards and risks to ensure a safe working environment.
Staff are required to:
- Uphold OSH responsibilities in line with their position requirements;
- Perform all duties in accordance with relevant OSH laws, College policies and procedures;
- Consult with all stakeholders including staff, students and contractors on any OSH matter;
- Support colleagues in return to work endeavours;
- Report hazards and take all reasonably practical steps to protect themselves and others;
- Ensure that they do not adversely affect their work performance or cause any risk to health and safety through the consumption of alcohol or use of other drugs.
- Copyright and Intellectual property
The materials / programs developed that relate to employment with PLC, whether created on campus, at home or another venue, are the intellectual property of the College. Staff cannot give away or assign the College’s intellectual property without the approval of the Principal. Staff must ensure the intellectual property rights of others are not infringed.
Breach of Code of Conduct
Consequences relating to the Code of Conduct will vary depending on the nature and scale of the breach. Please refer to the Staff Misconduct and Discipline Policy for more information. Staff are required to report all objectively observable breaches of this Code of Conduct to the Principal or, where the breach observed was committed by the Principal, to the Chair of Council.
Issued Monday 29 April 2019
To be reviewed by Thursday 30 April 2020