The Western Australian Government has set formal protocols for its agencies to share vital information following a number of confronting allegations about school-aged sex offenders.
There is now an obligation for the Western Australia Police Force and the departments of Education, Communities, and Justice to immediately work together to protect all students.
When made aware by WA Police, agencies will meet to examine all possible risk factors of the alleged offender attending a public school.
The most appropriate education program, as well as clinical services, for the alleged offender would then be decided with the best interests of all students in mind. This could mean the student could be removed from a school temporarily or permanently while continuing their education.
The agencies have also agreed the way the alleged offender’s education is provided would be continually reviewed.
Catholic and Independent schools have also been part of the discussions and have similar case management plans in place. The notification process is currently being finalised.
Western Australian Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said there were no existing protocols in place to deal with these issues and no notification process between police and the Education Department.
“While it is still an offence to share information about a child accused of sex offences with parents or members of the public, it was agreed that stronger measures needed to be put in place to protect all students and restore community confidence that schools are safe,” she said.
“This new process brings all four agencies to the table. Matters such as charges, sentencing and bail conditions are determined by police and the courts while education authorities – public and private – have a responsibility to provide safe learning environments for students and staff.”
“The Children’s Court has now implemented changes to make it a condition of bail that parents are involved in the planning for education and clinical decisions before that child returns to school and under what conditions.”