In Catholic Education, protection for children and young people is based upon the belief that each person is made in the image of God, and that the inherent dignity of all should be recognised and fostered within the community.
A commitment to the protection of children and young people and upholding of their right to a safe and secure environment is critical to educational experience.
At St Gerard Majella we acknowledge our obligation to have in place proactive and interventionary policies and procedures which will provide students with a safe school environment, ensure that school personnel have the knowledge and skills they need to promote such a safe environment, and provide a prompt and supportive response to an allegation of harm of any kind.
St Gerard Majella School assists in supporting students by having trained student protection officers and counsellors on site.
To support Catholic schools’ efforts to create student safety in communities of care, Catholic Education has published a Student Protection Reporting Processes manual which can be downloaded here.
Information for Parents and Students – Family Law Issues and the Catholic Education Services, Cairns
Cairns Catholic Education Services (CCES)/ St Gerard Majella school recognises that some families are subject to family breakdown. In meeting its obligations to students and parents, Cairns CES/St Gerard Majella school relies on the following principles:-
- the education of a child is primarily the responsibility of the child’s parents;
- decisions should be made on the basis of ensuring the continued effective and efficient operation of the school; school decisions are based on what is considered to be in the best interests of the child;
- where parents cannot agree between themselves on what is in the child’s best interests, it is the role of the court, not the school, to determine those interests;
- the school is not the appropriate place for family disputes to be resolved nor is it appropriate for school staff to resolve such issues;
- decisions will be made in an unbiased manner and as far as reasonably practicable, without favour to either parent;
- the obligations imposed by other legislation, such as the Commonwealth Privacy Act need to be considered when dealing with family law related issues; and
- the continued effective and efficient operation of the school and parents’ obligations under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 to ensure their children of compulsory school age attend school or received home schooling take precedence over any interests parents may assert they have under the Family Law Act 1975.
Parents have a responsibility to advise the school immediately if any changes in family circumstances occur which have the potential to impact on the relationship between the school and the parents and/or students. If court orders are obtained by one or both parents, a copy of the orders should be provided to the school as soon as possible.
In the absence of any notification to the contrary (such as a court order), it will be assumed that both parents retain a shared and equal parental responsibility for their children. This means that the school will recognise that each parent has equal duties, obligations, responsibilities and opportunities in relation to matters involving their children’s education at the school.
Cairns CES/St Gerard Majella school has developed a detailed policy to assist schools to manage family law related issues. The main features of the policy are summarised below:
- in the absence of any court order to the contrary, generally either parent can enrol a child in a Diocese of Cairns Catholic school; except in specifically defined circumstances, a child will be enrolled using the name that appears on his or her birth certificate;
- in the absence of court orders to the contrary, each parent is entitled to know at which school his or her child is enrolled;
- generally, each parent will be given the opportunity to participate in school related activities, including teacher/parent interviews and can have access to school documentation relating to his or her child;
- unless specifically authorised by a residential parent, children will not be permitted to leave school during the course of a school day.
Catholic Education Services, Cairns – Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy
Student Protection Contacts
It is important that parents inform the office staff of any changes in address, contact names, telephone numbers or other particulars on the original enrolment form. This information must be given to the school staff, as accurate enrolment details are essential tothe well-being of students. School staff need to be informed of any change as speedily as possible.