Question: Child Protection Screening


Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 15:13 ): My question is to the Minister for Education and Child Development. Can the minister advise the house whether parents are required to apply for a police check in order to coach a sporting team at a public school?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:13): My recollection of the change to the rules that we put in place in order to normalise the arrangements between parents being involved in activities that their kids are involved in, in any case, was that we did not require a police check or a working with children screening clearance for interactions with the students of their schools that would normally be interactions that their kids would be a part of. That includes going along and reading with children and undertaking sporting activities.

What we have continued to do, however, is make sure that if students are in any sense staying overnight with parents (for example, going away on camps with schools or any kind of hosting of students) then they would continue to require that. That is consistent not only with the legislation but also with the recommendations that came out from the federal royal commission, and this has helped bring us into line with what occurs interstate.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 15:18 ): My question is to the Minister for Education and Child Development. What mechanism does the education department have in place to ensure that parents who have previously failed police checks to volunteer in schools are not now volunteering in their children’s classrooms or coaching sporting teams, given that police checks are no longer required?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:19): I will confirm what internal process is in place but I would just take this opportunity to make two points: one is that if people are questioning what requirements are necessary, as I should have added into my previous answer, they can check on the website, a very handy way of clicking through what category you are in. The other point which is more important in this context is that having a police clearance or a working with children screening clearance is no guarantee that children are safe. It is a useful additional piece of information, and that is why we have it, but by no means ought it be seen as a guarantee.

What we need to do is make sure that we have ways in which children are cared for by everybody around them to keep eyes on them and to make sure that people are responsible for how their children are looked after. So, while it is important to have these clearances under certain circumstances, their presence or absence should not be regarded as the only gatekeeping for the safety of children. Everyone is responsible, everyone needs to be watching children. We need to make sure that we run our organisations in a way that promotes as much safety and security as possible for parents.