JUVENILE OFFENDERS —
560. Hon NICK GOIRAN to the Minister for Education and
I refer to the minister's
response to my question without notice 483 regarding information sharing
between agencies about reportable sex offenders under the age of 18 years who
move from one school to another, in which the minister informed the house that
arrangements are slightly different for independent non-government schools, as they
are not a ''system''.
(1) Is Catholic Education Western Australia
one such system?
(2) Do any other school systems
exist in our state?
(3) If yes to (2), what are the
names of those systems?
(4) How many schools exist inside a system?
(5) How many schools sit outside a system?
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question. Given the member has asked a number of questions
about this, I think it is useful to put the answer about the specific details
in some context.
On 17 March 2017—the day I was
sworn in—I was advised by the Department of Education and Training
about a particularly awful child-on-child sex abuse case in a school in Western
Australia. Some media attention was attached to that as well. I asked about what
the protocols were to ensure that the relevant schools were being notified
about what happens when a child who is a student is charged with an offence
against another student at that school. I was told that no existing protocols
were in place, and that it was fairly random as to whether either the courts or
the police notified schools about whether a child was charged, or even
convicted, and whether a child was under consideration in relation to any of
10 days of being sworn in, I asked four government agencies and their
respective ministers—WA Police Force, the Department of
Communities, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education and
Training—to meet with me to see whether we could establish safety
planning protocols for school-aged sex offenders. It was agreed by everyone at
the table that stronger measures needed to be put in place to protect all
students and to ensure community confidence that students could be as safe as
possible at school.
I was not interested then and I am
not interested now, but it remains an offence to share information with members
of the public about the whereabouts of anybody accused of sexual offences.
However, we have an obligation to ensure that parents can be confident that
measures have been taken to protect everybody at the school when these kinds of
events occur. Until this change, as I said, it was really random. There is now
an obligation on, and an agreement for, WA Police, the Department of Education,
child protection and family support, and corrective services to immediately
work together to protect all students. The measures that will be put in place,
whether clinical or moving a child into another education setting, will depend
on the circumstances of that particular child, the charges involved, and anyone
else who might be involved.
Catholic Education WA and the
Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia were part of those
discussions about how we might manage it and how we might put in place similar
case management plans. The objective of that exercise—it remains the
objective—is to ensure that the most appropriate education program and
clinical services, when required, are put in place for the alleged offender and
to protect the best interests of the victim and all students at a school that
might be caught up in these circumstances. An individual approach is taken to
each particular notification because it will vary depending on the nature of
the charges or conviction and the particular circumstances. The action that we
took was the first action taken by a WA government. These protocols were not in place prior to the discussions that I convened
within days of the Labor Party being elected to government.
With respect to the specific numbers
that the honourable member sought in his question, I advise as follows.
(3) Not applicable.
(4) A total of 162 non-government
schools are part of the Catholic schools system.
(5) A total of 147 non-government
schools are not part of a system.