LWOP hitch in checks

Sam Clay
Professional Support Officer

Action to save vulnerable teachers from falling foul of rule

While working with secondary teachers in relation to the Working With Children Check (WWCC) it has become apparent that one group was vulnerable to running afoul of the process. Some members who were on leave without pay (LWOP) have been dismissed from employment as they had failed to respond to Departmental directions to provide a clearance by the given date.

Federation’s Professional Support Officers have been working tirelessly with these members to provide them much-needed support.

Even while on unpaid leave, there is a requirement that teachers hold a WWCC. Under section 9 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 it is actually an offence for the Department to employ a teacher who does not hold a clearance or an active application. This provision applies equally to teachers who are being paid and those on LWOP.

Primary teachers who are going to be on LWOP at the end of this year are urged to get their WWCC completed on time to avoid the same fate as their secondary colleagues. The identification verification needs to be performed in person at a Service NSW office and the clearance process can take a considerable time to occur.

Many of the members dismissed were unaware of their obligation to have a WWCC clearance by the 31 March deadline as the Department had sent letters of direction to their Departmental email address. They had also assumed that as they were not being paid the Department would not expect them to have a clearance until they returned on duty.

Federation has successfully negotiated with the Department to have the dismissals overturned for a number of teachers but this has depended on their individual circumstances. Other cases are being pursued by Federation as unfair dismissals in the IRC.

Any secondary teachers who are on LWOP and have not applied for a WWCC are advised to immediately contact Federation for advice and assistance on 1300 654 367.

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