The Act focuses on creating positive learning experiences for our children through enhanced supports for students and educators, increased safety provisions and measures to find and keep the right teachers and support staff.
It’s the first update of the Act in a generation and modernises a range of laws that apply to public, non-government schools, preschools and early years facilities.
Here’s how some of the key changes will make a difference for our educators and children.
Supporting children through information sharing
Every child is different, with different histories and changing needs during their education journey. Learning well, being happy and expanding capabilities is easier for a child when the right support is in place.
Detailed permissions in the new Act around information sharing between government departments and agencies, schools, preschools and children’s services, mean that schools are able to build a fuller picture of a child’s needs. Principals are now able to obtain additional information from a child’s previous school or preschool, to put in place more complete support plans to improve a child’s health, safety, welfare and wellbeing outcomes.
Circuit breaker keeps kids safe
The new Act creates a circuit breaker power where the Chief Executive of the Department for Education can move a student to another school for their health, safety and welfare or that of other students and staff, where appropriate. This could be used in response to situations such as severe bullying or a serious assault.
Building school communities
Making sure that school communities have the professional expertise they need is a focus of the Act. It updates employment provisions so professionals such as nurses, social workers, youth workers, psychologists and others can be employed directly by the department to work in schools.
Keeping staff safe
The Act introduces tougher penalties against those who use abusive, threatening or insulting language or behave in an offensive or threatening manner to school staff, with a maximum fine of $2500.
It also means all schools, preschools and children’s centres can bar individuals for bad behaviour by extending a power that already exists in government schools to include government preschools and child care providers, as well as non-government schools and preschools.