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Accreditation and monitoring e-newsletter – August 2018

Welcome to the Accreditation and Monitoring team's e-newsletter, number 6. This newsletter provides information about the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) Accreditation and Monitoring team and an update on current legislative and compliance requirements.

To ask a question or make any suggestions please email us at accreditation@ocg.nsw.gov.au

We’ve moved!

The NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian recently relocated and changed our postal address.

  • Our new location address is: Level 1, 219–241 Cleveland Street, Strawberry Hills NSW 2010
  • Our new postal address is: Locked Bag 5100, Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
  • Our telephone numbers remains unchanged, the main switch is still (02) 8219 3600

After 12 years in Surry Hills, we are enjoying having all our OCG colleagues together in one location. If you are visiting our new office, it is walking distance from both Redfern and Central stations and is in the same building as the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People.

Our office hosted some wonderful events during NAIDOC Week and this year’s theme, Because of her, we can, acknowledged the significant role of Aboriginal women in our nation and our communities as leaders, role models, advocates, mothers, grandmothers and aunties. Part of our own celebration was the official opening of our new offices here at Strawberry Hills as we embark on the next chapter in the story of the OCG and we were fortunate enough to have the Koomurri Aboriginal Incursions group hold some very powerful workshops with our staff.Staff add elements to painting in Indigenous arts workshop

Koomurri is a self-funded, Aboriginal-owned, cultural education and performance team and the workshops they provided really captivated everyone who attended. Each person participated in joining in the dance, learning more about Aboriginal culture and perhaps growing in their own cultural competence. We were also assisted to create our own story via a unique piece of artwork, guided by Australia’s First People.  

The workshop helped everyone to consider the importance of connections to family, friends and community, to feel more connected to each other and to have a deeper understanding of the significance of those connections within Aboriginal culture.

ReminderReminder for Carers Register compliance

Carer applicants

A carer applicant is an individual who has applied to a designated agency for authorisation to provide statutory or supported out-of-home care (OOHC) in NSW.

Details of any person who applies to a designated agency must be entered onto the Carers Register within 14 days of the application date (date signed or received) as prescribed by the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2012, clause 86D (1).

Please also remember that you need to update any changed details to the Carer’s Register, including when young people in care turn 18 and remain living in the household.

For further information refer to the NSW Carers Register Guidance Notes.

Notification of non-home based emergency care for a child or young person in statutory OOHC

Across the statutory OOHC sector there is a significant number of children and young people being cared for in motels and other non-home based care arrangements. Care is being provided by designated agency employees and staff sourced through an external agency (contractors). In these circumstances, designated agencies must still meet relevant legislative requirements and ensure that the people they engage through external agencies to work with and care for children and young people are safe and suitable.

The relevant legislation is available here.

Earlier this year, the Children’s Guardian wrote to each designated agency’s Principal Officer, explaining the guidelines for emergency authorisation of staff and contractors. The guidelines are to assist Principal Officers and designated agencies ensure they meet their obligations when authorising contracted staff employed by external agencies, to provide emergency care.

The guidelines are available here. A condition was placed on every designated agency to comply with these guidelines and the Notice of Conditions of Accreditation was amended to reflect this.

The guidelines require that where an emergency placement in a non-home based care arrangement extends for more than 14 days, the Principal Officer must notify the OCG of the placement.

Information about the guidelines is attached to the notification form, available on our website. When completed, the notification form should be emailed to oohcnotifications@ocg.nsw.gov.au

Please make sure relevant staff know they must notify the OCG when a child's stay in temporary accommodation goes beyond two weeks.

Residential Workers Register

As you all know, the OCG is proposing to develop a register of workers providing direct care to children and young people in residential care settings.  This proposal is in response to concerns raised by some residential care providers in NSW regarding the ease of movement between agencies of unsuitable staff, particularly casual staff engaged by more than one agency. A register of residential care workers will also implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) regarding improving the safety of children and young people in contemporary out-of-home care.

In May 2018, the OCG commenced consultation with statutory OOHC providers and stakeholders to discuss the proposed register of residential care workers.  The OCG has conducted initial consultation with designated agencies, FaCS, NSW Ombudsman, Australian Services Union, NSW Privacy Commissioner and AbSec.  Thank you to those agencies who have provided feedback about the proposed register so far.  An email has also been sent to all Principal Officers with a summary of the consultations, the issues raised and how these are to be addressed as well as documentation outlining how the proposed register may function.  An invitation was also extended to all agencies to nominate a representative to take part in a Working Group to consult in more detail about the register. 

In order to assist us to scope the register, a link to a brief questionnaire was previously sent to all designated agencies to help the OCG to estimate the number of individuals who are likely to be captured on the register. This information will help us to design a system that will support agencies in performing their roles.  The survey only takes a few minutes to complete however the information gathered will be extremely useful as part of future progress with the register.  The survey is still open for agencies to complete and it is requested that this be done if your agency hasn’t yet had the opportunity to do so. 

NewRecent changes to the Working With Children Check (WWCC)

There have been recent legislative changes around the WWCC that impact all people who work with children and young people in paid and voluntary roles and the organisations for whom they work.

A full list of the changes is available on the Children’s Guardian website. Below is a summary on changes which may affect your agency.

The Children’s Guardian now has the discretion to allow a young person in statutory OOHC to remain living with the authorised carer after they turn 18, even if they have been refused a Working With Children Check clearance. The legislation change was made so that young people who have been refused a clearance can remain in their home if appropriate supports are in place. To grant this approval, the Children’s Guardian must be satisfied that there is an appropriate risk mitigation plan in place that is being implemented.

Guidelines for continuing residence approvals are available on the Children’s Guardian website.

If your agency is seeking continuing residence approval for a young person in care, please contact the Accreditation and Monitoring team by emailing accreditation@ocg.nsw.gov.au or calling on 02 8219 3600.

The laws relating to child safety have been strengthened so that non-government organisations are now compelled by law to provide any relevant information requested by the Office of the Children’s Guardian to progress a risk assessment we are undertaking. We use this information in assessing the risks of allowing some people to work with children. Other key changes are:

  • a requirement for people with a Working With Children Check to keep their personal details up to date or risk a penalty
  • employers are required to verify online that their child-related workers have a WWCC and keep records or risk a penalty
  • WWCC is required for all parent volunteers attending overnight kids’ camps with their own child.

Further information will be sent directly to organisations. We ask everyone to share this information with your colleagues in statutory OOHC and other relevant networks.

Contact us

Subscribe to this newsletter – currently this newsletter is sent by email to the Principal Officer at your organisation – if you would like additional staff to receive this newsletter, please email us their contact details at accreditation@ocg.nsw.gov.au

If you need further information or would like to suggest a topic for a future newsletter please contact us at accreditation@ocg.nsw.gov.au