This policy explains how we provide a service that promotes our clients’ legal and human rights and enables them to exercise choice and control according to their individual and cultural needs and preferences.
This policy applies to all NextSense employees, contractors and volunteers.
As part of their legal and human rights, NextSense clients have the right to:
- Our clients’ needs come first: we ask what they need from our services and develop individual service plans with them.
- We treat our clients with respect, dignity and courtesy. This includes respecting and supporting their culture, diversity, values, beliefs and decisions without discrimination.
- We acknowledge our client’s right to be supported by a certified or trained assistance animal and to have their animal involved in their therapy or appointment.
Informed choice, decision making and control
- We give information and support to clients to understand and exercise their rights to be in control and make independent, informed choices about their services. This includes respecting the "dignity of risk" that might come with client choice.
- We work with each client to develop and implement an individual plan that identifies and builds on their strengths, aspirations and goals.
Receive quality services
- Our services must be relevant, evidence-based and deliver best practice.
- We promote, uphold and respect clients’ legal and human rights in our services.
Receive timely information in their preferred formats and mode of communication
- This includes offering interpreting services and providing materials in accessible formats.
Privacy and confidentiality
- Our services respect and protect our clients’ dignity, confidentiality and right to privacy.
- We only collect the personal information we need to provide services and meet legal requirements.
- We protect clients’ personal information in line with relevant legislation and ask for their consent to use their information as needed.
- Our services are free of violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation or discrimination.
- We screen potential team members for their suitability to work with vulnerable people before they start work with us.
- Team members must identify and respond to indicators that children and vulnerable people are experiencing harm or are at risk of experiencing harm.
- We encourage and help our clients to engage another person to speak or act on their behalf to support their choice and control.
Have their feedback valued and acted on
- We encourage our clients to give us feedback, whether complaints, compliments or suggestions so we can improve our services.
- We provide a supportive environment for giving and receiving feedback and we make sure there are no negative consequences for people who give us feedback.
Be supported through their journey with us
- We deliver quality services and link clients to appropriate NextSense services and to our partners to help clients fulfil their potential.
- We give our clients time to consult, consider and review their options at each stage of their journey with us.
- We help clients engage with family, friends and community as directed by them.
|Client||Includes the client’s support team, such as family, guardians or advocates.|
|Dignity of risk||Each person’s right to make the choice to take risks.|
We want the NextSense experience to be great for everyone – for our clients as well as people who work for us. This policy explains clients’ responsibilities to help make their own and others’ experience as good as it can be.
This policy applies to all employees and all clients.
These are the things we ask you, our clients, to do:
- Stick to the program. Nothing is better than seeing our clients meet their goals. You have a huge role in that by coming to each appointment, actively participating and following our recommendations. If you can’t keep an appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. See our Cancellation Policy for more information
- Treat everyone at NextSense with respect and consideration. This includes other clients as well as our employees. Any kind of disrespect is never acceptable. If we aren’t meeting your needs or you have a problem with our service, please let us know about it. We welcome your feedback in person or you can use our feedback system.
- Everyone’s privacy is important. Do not take photos or videos at NextSense that include other NextSense clients or employees without getting their permission first. Even if you get permission, you must not post any photos or videos taken at NextSense to social media for child safety and respect for privacy.
- Help keep yourself, our employees and other clients safe. We do everything we can to make our services safe, but if you spot a problem please tell one of our employees or email email@example.com. If we are providing services in your home it is your responsibility to make sure our staff are safe. Please keep pets away and do not smoke while we are there.
- Keep us up to date. We need information about you so we can provide services that meet your needs. If your needs or details change, please let us know.
- If we send you an invoice please pay us on time. We are a not-for-profit organisation that relies on your payment as well as donations and taxpayer funding to continue providing great service to you.
Definitions and abbreviations
People who receive our services and may include their families, carers and other people who support them.
Salaried staff, casuals, contractors, volunteers and students of NextSense.
|Social media||Online social networks used to publish information through online social interaction. Examples include Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Twitter, YouTube, Tik Tok, Snapchat and blogs.|
Each client of NextSense has the right to access supports that respect their culture, diversity, values and beliefs.
All clients have the right to equal access to resources and services that are appropriate to them, and to equity in the outcome of the services provided. This applies to clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, and any clients from specific populations regarding age, gender, disability, faith and sexual orientation.
This policy applies to all services at NextSense. All services are aware of and sensitively respond to client culture, diversity, values and beliefs.
NextSense considers the issues of culture and diversity in the delivery of programs and services.
- NextSense supports employees in making sure service delivery is flexible and culturally and linguistically sensitive and appropriate.
- NextSense identifies and builds networks with multicultural agencies to enhance awareness and improve access to our services.
- NextSense identifies specific needs and outreach opportunities, such as the hearing screening program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Information about NextSense services is provided in accessible formats.
- Interpreting services are available to all clients who require them in order to communicate in their preferred languages.
- NextSense acknowledges that our cultural backgrounds and experiences may create biases. Employees must seek education wherever possible to address the needs of diverse clients and must eliminate biases, prejudices and discriminatory practices.
- Employees are provided with ongoing support and professional development to help implement diversity awareness in practice.
This policy explains how NextSense services staff help clients be included and participate in community life in ways that are meaningful to them.
This policy applies to all services staff.
NextSense supports and respects the rights of clients to participate and be actively included in the community and support networks in the way they choose. We aim to develop connections with the broader community to promote opportunities and options for clients to engage in community activities and develop social relationships with other members of the community who share their interests.
Staff are encouraged to develop and maintain links with other community service providers and regularly participate in professional and inter-agency associations and community engagement activities.
Staff and volunteers are given training to help them understand, respect and act in the interests of clients. Services staff work with clients and support them to:
- Develop and maintain skills and attitudes that promote their independence.
- Make decisions about how they connect with their chosen community and activities.
- Access appropriate community activities through collaborative planning and coordination of interagency service provision; and if requested, advocate on behalf of clients seeking services.
- Use local community resources and include these resources in individual program objectives to achieve their goals and reduce barriers to participation.
- Develop links with programs for people from a diverse background, including people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and as appropriate adapt service delivery practices to more effectively meet the needs of these communities.
NextSense requests feedback from clients to understand their needs in accessing and participating in their chosen community and activities.
In early childhood services we recognise that the family has central importance for child development, therefore we:
- Encourage active involvement of the client’s family and support networks.
- Provide family-centred supports in a culturally inclusive and responsive way.
- Build on the strengths of the client and their family and support networks.
- Provide a natural setting for services where possible.
- Set functional outcomes which help the client participate in their family and community life in an inclusive and meaningful way, including participation in daily routines.
Definitions and abbreviations
|Client||Where relevant the term ‘client’ includes the client’s family or carer.|
This policy explains NextSense's responsibility to support and promote advocacy for clients.
This policy applies to all services staff.
NextSense recognises that our clients are entitled to be represented by an advocate when dealing with us or to act as advocates for themselves. We also advocate with and on behalf of our clients and families and see this as part of our role in supporting our clients. We work towards open and productive working relationships with our clients and recognise there may be times when a client wants to engage an advocate to make sure their view is effectively communicated and their needs are met.
We include advocacy information on our website and in our promotional materials to help increase awareness of advocacy resources.
Support and promote advocacy for clients
- Ensure that the client is given fair and equal treatment and access to NextSense services and decisions are taken with due consideration for their unique preferences and perspectives.
- Ensure that the client is given a legitimate voice in issues that affect them.
- Provide consultation processes, networks and strategies to integrate the client’s needs into services, facilities and decision-making processes.
- Ensure that the client is empowered and supported to give feedback, including complaints.
- Provide information to the client about their rights and entitlement to independent advocacy and support if their human rights are infringed.
- Provide information for families to enable them to advocate, lobby and negotiate with organisations, services or agencies to have their issues heard.
- In cases of alleged or actual violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation or discrimination, ensure that clients are aware they may use and can be supported to access an advocate.
Definitions and abbreviations
|Client||Includes the client’s family and support network.|
This policy describes how client cancellations are managed. NextSense acknowledges that clients and their families face multiple demands on their time. Appointments may need to be cancelled on occasion. An external version of this policy (refer to references section) is provided to clients to make sure they make the most of their access to NextSense services in order to meet their goals.
This policy applies to all client services.
Clients must provide 24 hours’ notice of cancellation of an appointment or a cancellation fee will apply.
NextSense sends out reminder texts and/or emails 48 hours before scheduled appointments.
NextSense has three types of cancellations:
- Within the required notice – client requests to cancel an appointment at least 24 hours before it is scheduled.
- Outside of the required notice – client requests to cancel an appointment less than 24 hours before it is scheduled.
- No notice given (do not show/DNS) – client does not attend the appointment at the scheduled time and location.
Appointments cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice or with no notice given (do not show) will be charged 100% of the value of planned supports, including any travel for the session. NextSense determines the cancellation fee and policy from the requirements of the NDIS Price Guide. The most recent price guide must be used.
When NextSense processes the cancellation, the session is charged to the client with a note that it was a cancellation. This is a direct claim against the client’s NDIS funding and the NDIA is notified of the cancellation through the claim.
NextSense may waive up to two cancellation or no-show fees. There may be extenuating circumstances in which cancellation charges may be waived by a service manager. It must be explained to clients that if cancellation fees are waived, the NDIA does not have visibility of the cancelled sessions. Future NDIS planning and funding may be impacted.
If clients regularly miss or reschedule appointments, they must be contacted to determine how NextSense can best support them or adjust the schedule of appointments. The NDIA must be notified if a client has an unusual number of cancellations.
Cancellations coming from NextSense
NextSense will give clients as much notice as possible regarding appointment changes. If an employee is unwell, the client will be contacted as soon as possible with an offer of a different employee (where appropriate) for the appointment. Alternatively, the client may choose to reschedule the appointment with the original employee.
This policy explains why feedback is important and how we deal with it at NextSense.
This policy applies to all NextSense employees, volunteers and contractors. It covers feedback from our clients, employees, volunteers, contractors, stakeholders and members of the public.
NextSense welcomes compliments, suggestions and complaints to ensure we continually improve the way we do things.
We address all feedback in a way that ensures access and equity, fairness, accountability and transparency with the goal of achieving a positive outcome for all parties.
We encourage people providing feedback to be supported by their family, carer, advocate and other accessibility supports, such as interpreters.
There may be cases where a complaint cannot be investigated and still be kept confidential. In these cases we will consult with the person making the complaint about if, and how, they would like us to continue with the investigation.
- Treat all people providing feedback with respect, recognising that the issue is important to the person giving the feedback.
- Cultivate a supportive environment in which feedback can be given and received.
- Include the person giving feedback in the process.
- Communicate and promote feedback processes to all clients and stakeholders.
- Resolve complaints to the satisfaction of the person making the complaint where possible.
- Support mediation, conciliation or escalation to the appropriate external body if a complaint cannot be resolved within NextSense.
- Comply with legislative requirements.
- Use feedback data to review and continuously improve the effectiveness of our operations.
- Review and evaluate the accessibility and effectiveness of the feedback system and continuously improve the process.
Our feedback process:
- Allows any person to make a complaint or provide feedback.
- Is simple, accessible and easy to use.
- Encourages complaints to be resolved at the point of contact where possible.
- Ensures complaints or appeals are fairly assessed and responded to promptly.
- Follows principles of procedural fairness.
- Maintains the confidentiality of parties involved, only sharing private information with people directly involved in the complaint and its resolution. Information will only be disclosed if required by law, or if otherwise necessary.
- Balances fairness and confidentiality to safeguard the interests of all parties.
Definitions and abbreviations
|Procedural fairness||Procedural fairness is a legal principle that ensures fair decision making and requires:|
NextSense services support clients to make service choices based on their individual needs and goals. Services are designed collaboratively with the client/family/carer.
This policy applies to all NextSense services departments.
- Clients, along with their families and carers, are at the centre of planning and decision making. Clients are encouraged to exercise choice and control in the services and supports they receive.
- NextSense is sensitive to the client’s age and gender, as well as to their cultural, linguistic, and religious background.
- Services are skill/outcome focused with clear objectives and procedures for achieving those objectives. Clients are supported in building their independence and skills.
- NextSense offers flexible and responsive supports and services that meet the client’s individual needs and expectations.
- NextSense supports each client to develop, review, assess, and adjust their plan as their circumstances or goals change.
- NextSense provides appropriate information to assist the client in making decisions.
- Clients may use an advocate to assist in making decisions.
- NextSense respects decisions not to participate.
- NextSense works, where possible, with other organisations and community groups to expand the range of service options.
- Individual plans take into consideration the client’s involvement with other agencies. Collaborative planning is conducted when possible.
- NextSense assists the client in comparing the benefits and risks of each option before any approach is adopted.
- Each client is encouraged and supported in evaluating the service they receive.
This policy outlines how we make it easy for clients to enter and exit our services.
This policy applies to all services except schools and pre-schools.
We provide services for clients who are deaf/hard of hearing and/or blind or have low vision. All services provided are fair and non-discriminatory. Information is communicated to clients using the language, mode of communication and terms that they are most likely to understand.
Clients accessing NextSense services have one point of entry through the client care team who respond to and triage all enquiries and distribute them to relevant services for action.
Services are planned and delivered around client needs.
We help clients use their NDIS and other funding effectively. As a charity we work with clients who do not have access to funding to provide services. There is also the option to access our services as fee paying clients.
We have a duty of care to provide clinical services and therapy that meet Australian standards for healthcare, safety and disabilities services.
Each client and/or their family/carer work with us to develop their own plan that meets their needs, goals and preferences. This is outlined in a service agreement between NextSense and the client. All costs are clearly defined in the agreement.
We are committed to providing relevant, high-quality services to clients of all ages and cultural backgrounds who are deaf/hard of hearing and/or blind or have low vision. We are not-for-profit and as such are committed to supporting the community by giving access, delivering services and linking with partners to enable clients to fulfil their potential.
If we are not the most appropriate service to support a client, we will help clients access other services that better meet their needs. We will also support clients by providing the information they need when leaving our services.
This policy describes why NextSense staff sometimes travel to provide supports and how we set and update the charges for provider travel.
This policy applies to all employees travelling to provide supports to clients funded by the NDIS, and to all clients receiving supports funded by the NDIS where NextSense employees travel to provide the support. It also applies to fee-paying clients.
NextSense provides supports in convenient locations across Australia or through videoconferencing technology. We recognise the best practice in early intervention is to deliver supports in the natural environment. Clients may also choose to receive supports in a place that best suits them. As a result, we may agree with the client to provide some supports in their home or local community. This involves the NextSense consultant travelling from their usual place of work to deliver the support.
Charges for travel
- If we travel to provide supports to our clients in their community or home, the client will be charged for our travel. The NDIS calls this Provider Travel and it is the time spent travelling by a worker to deliver a support. The NDIS Price Guide outlines when providers can charge for travel. The support items that providers can claim travel costs for are listed in the support catalogue. It is important to note that the NDIS does not provide participants with a separate budget for provider travel in their plan, it is deducted from the total budget for the support category. We will discuss and agree with the client how we charge them for travel.
- We will charge for actual travel time up to the maximum limit as listed in the NDIS Price Guide.
Changes to the way we charge for travel
We may make changes to the amount we charge for travel if the NDIS Price Guide and NDIS Support Catalogue change. We will inform clients of any changes before we start charging the new amount.
This policy establishes the importance of providing safe and protective environments for young people who receive services from NextSense. Its intent is to:
- Establish the importance of safeguarding the safety and well-being of young people. This is a core NextSense value and fundamental to the organisation’s mission.
- Identify the legal and regulatory requirements that NextSense must comply with.
- Ensure that procedures for implementation of this policy satisfy or exceed minimum legal requirements.
- Ensure that procedures are consistent between all locations and departments of NextSense to the greatest extent possible, while recognising that some variation is necessary to satisfy legislative and administrative differences between States and Territories.
- Develop and maintain training procedures to ensure employees are:
- Aware of their obligations.
- Capable of performing them at commencement, and throughout the period of their employment.
- Ensure employees can identify and respond to indicators that children and young people are experiencing harm or are at risk of harm.
- Include the development of protective behaviours in the core curriculum of NextSense schools and pre-schools.
This policy applies to all employees, including volunteers and contractors, in all states and territories where NextSense provides services.
The safety, protection and wellbeing of young people is a community responsibility. It is of paramount importance to NextSense , which provides specialist services to young people with a wide range of visual, auditory and cognitive abilities.
NextSense aspires to a standard of excellence in the provision of services to the community in a professional, compassionate and respectful manner. Protecting the confidence of clients, students, and families, as well as the organisation’s reputation, is of critical importance to the realisation of the NextSense mission.
Common Law Duty of Care
Under common law, employees always owe a duty of care to children under their supervision. This requires employees to take reasonable steps to ensure that children are not harmed and are protected from possible risks of harm.
- NextSense must implement and maintain efficient systems of prevention and response.
- Employees must follow established procedures and observe professional codes of conduct.
- Failure to implement and observe appropriate procedure, exposes NextSense and its employees to penalties.
A summary of the legal requirements is included in Appendix 1. They can be grouped as:
- Staff member responsibilities:
Key legislation requires reporting of child protection concerns. However, as part of the school’s overall commitment to child protection all staff are required to report any child protection or child wellbeing concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person to the Principal. If the allegation involves the Principal, a report should be made to the Head of Education or Director, Services.
- Mandatory Reporting requirements:
Employees designated as Mandatory Reporters must report cases of known, or suspected, child abuse or neglect, to the state or territory Child Protection authorities. NextSense Mandatory Reporting Procedures should be read in conjunction with this policy as it provides a more detailed explanation of legal obligations in individual states and territories.
- Reportable Conduct requirements:
NextSense must investigate and report alleged cases of misconduct involving children to an oversight state or territory authority. Systems for the prevention, management and reporting of reportable conduct must be implemented, and will be monitored by the state or territory authority. NextSense Reportable conduct policy – Child and vulnerable person protection should be read in conjunction with this policy as it provides a more detailed explanation of legal obligations in individual states and territories.
- Working With Children Checks (WWC checks)
NextSense is required to ensure that employees engaged in child-related work, obtain a Working With Children Check clearance before commencing work. Failure to renew or reported findings of misconduct triggering a restriction, will result in disciplinary action potentially including dismissal. NextSense Working With Children Check Procedures should be read in conjunction with this policy as it provides a more detailed explanation of legal obligations in individual states and territories.
- National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS):
National NDIS legislation requires service providers to implement and monitor systems for the prevention of, response to, and reporting of
incidents of harm, or potential harm. Approved providers of services to NDIS participants must:
- Ensure that employees engaged in roles requiring interaction with clients with a disability hold current NDIS screening clearance.
- Report allegations of NDIS reportable incidents within 24 hours.
- Review incident data to monitor and continuously improve incident management systems.
The NextSense NDIS Incident management and reportable incidents procedure should be read in conjunction with this policy as it provides a more detailed explanation of legal obligations specific to the NDIS.
- Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)
NextSense schools and preschools are subject to the above the legislation in items (a) to (c) above but are not subject to NDIS requirements. Preschools and kindergartens are additionally required to comply with the standards and procedures mandated by ACECQA under the National Quality Framework for Education and Care services. The standards set specific requirements for the policies and procedures to be adopted in preschools, which are to be considered as extensions to the child protective principles encompassed within this policy.
While much of the relevant legislation is restricted to employees who interact directly with young people during their everyday work, the NextSense commitment to excellence requires a more inclusive degree of compliance than the minimum prescribed by legislation. To this end all NextSense employees must:
- Be aware of the organisations close involvement with young people and embrace their protection as a priority, even when their role does not bring them into direct contact.
- Be sensitised to potential signs that a young person is at risk of harm.
- Be aware of their reporting obligations when a young person has been harmed or is suspected to be at risk of harm.
|Child or Young Person||NextSense considers all people under the age of 18 years, and people 18 years or older if they are currently enrolled in a NextSense school, to be young people for whom Child Protective measures must be extended.|
|Employee||Staff, volunteers, contract workers, tertiary students and trainees, are to be considered employees of NextSense for the purposes of implementing child protection measures.|
|Mandatory reporter||All NextSense employees are to be considered mandatory reporters, irrespective of whether their normal work involves direct interaction with children.|
|Manager||The person to whom an employee with concerns for a child’s welfare must report in the first instance. For a school – the Principal or Head of Education For a preschool – the Director or Head of Education For other services – the Service Manager or NextSense Manager as defined within specific NextSense procedures.|
|Emotional abuse||Can result in serious psychological harm, where the behaviour of their parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self-esteem of the child or young person, resulting in serious emotional deprivation or trauma.|
|Physical abuse||A non-accidental injury or pattern of injuries to a child caused by a parent, caregiver or any other person. It includes but is not limited to injuries which are caused by excessive discipline, severe beatings or shakings, cigarette burns, attempted strangulation and female genital mutilation.|
|Neglect||The continued failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child with the basic things needed for his or her proper growth and development, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical and dental care and adequate supervision.|
|Sexual abuse||When someone involves a child or young person in a sexual activity by using their power over them or taking advantage of their trust. Often children are bribed or threatened physically and psychologically to make them participate in the activity. Child sexual abuse is a crime.|
- Public Confidence:
1.1 The effective performance of the services offered by NextSense depends on the trust, goodwill and confidence of the public.
1.2 The dual vulnerability of young people with disabilities demands a heightened duty of care and vigilance from all NextSense employees.
1.3 All employees must report to their manager should they suspect or know that a young person has been harmed or is at risk at harm.
1.4 Internal reporting must occur in all cases irrespective of how that knowledge or suspicion arose, or how reasonable or likely it initially appears.
1.5 Managers are responsible for determining whether there may be genuine cause for concern and whether legal compliance requirements must be followed.
1.6 Every report of possible harm reported to a Manager must be recorded according to NextSense procedures and, where external reporting is not a requirement, the matter should remain under internal review.
- Legal compliance:
2.1. NextSense generally aspires to higher standards of performance than minimum legal requirements.
2.2. All procedures implemented to support this Child Protection Policy must either satisfy, or exceed, legal compliance standards.
2.3. It is important for all employees to understand minimum requirements for legal compliance, in addition to NextSense standard procedures.
- NextSense extension of legal definitions:
3.1. All NextSense employees are considered mandatory reporters for the purposes of reporting actual or suspected harm to child protection authorities.
3.2. On occasion NextSense schools have students enrolled who are 18 years or older. For the purposes of child protection measures all students currently enrolled in a NextSense school will be considered as children irrespective of age. NextSense will leave the decision as to whether to accept an incident report to the relevant state or territory authority. Incidents involving students aged 18 years or more will be reported under Mandatory Reporting and Reportable Conduct procedures.
3.3. NextSense will notify reportable conduct to external authorities in all states and territories.
3.4. Incidents of reportable conduct in states and territories with no current legislation will be subject to the same internal reporting and investigation procedures as states and territories with legislation.
3.5. Roles requiring access to child and client records are risk-assessable roles requiring a ‘Working With Children Check’ and/or an NDIS worker screening.
- Procedural supporting documents:
4.1. Relevant legislation varies between States and Territories and is summarised in Appendix 1.
4.2. This policy is supported by several procedural documents that include a more detailed discussion of the relevant State and Territory laws and which should therefore be read in conjunction with this policy statement.
4.3. Procedural documents must be authored to: 4.3.1. Ensure procedures are substantially consistent across all NextSense locations and services.
4.3.2. Meet legislative requirements. They must exceed minimum to ensure uniformity across all NextSense activities.
4.3.3. Highlight areas where state and territory laws are different requiring variations in procedure, or whether a consistent NextSense procedure can be followed.
- Employee Education
5.1. All employees must receive Child Protection education on commencement of employment with annual refresher training.
5.2. All employees must receive awareness training in recognising potential signs of harm in young people and how to remain vigilant.
5.3. All employees dealing with young people daily must undergo Child Protection training annually.
5.4. All employees must be aware of the contents of this policy and related procedures. Employees will comprehend that these policies and procedures may exceed minimum legal obligations to promote service excellence and efficiencies.
5.5. All employees must be aware of their obligations under law and the potential consequences of non-compliance on individuals and the organisation.
5.6. Training will complement this policy and provide information to staff about their legal responsibilities related to child protection and school expectations, including:
- Mandatory reporting.
- Reportable conduct.
- Working With Children Checks.
- Professional boundaries.
- Curriculum for the development of protective behaviours by children
NextSense programs include the enrolment of children who are especially vulnerable (e.g. very young children in preschools). The appropriate development of childhood protective behaviours is addressed by individual departmental policies and state and territory curriculum guidelines (school-aged programs).
- Criminal offences
7.1. Failure to protect offence: An adult working in a school, therefore all staff members, will commit an offence if they know another adult working there poses a serious risk of committing a child abuse offence and they have the power to reduce or remove the risk, and they negligently fail to do so either by acts and/or omissions. This offence is targeted at those in positions of authority and responsibility working with children who turn a blind eye to a known and serious risk rather than using their power to protect children.
7.2. Failure to report offence: Any adult, and therefore all staff members, will commit an offence if they know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child abuse offence has been committed and fail to report that information to Police, without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse would include where the adult has reported the matter to the Principal and is aware that the Principal has reported the matter to the Police.
Mandatory Reporting under Care and Protection Acts
Each state and territory has a governing Child Protection or Child & Young People Act. This specifies the circumstances when suspicions of child abuse or neglect are to be reported to Child Protection Authorities.
Mandatory Reporters are people employed in the delivery of services to young people, including health care, education and welfare. Definitions are generally restricted to people dealing directly with young people daily, whether paid or voluntarily, and include those in managerial positions. At NextSense this includes all teachers, therapists and consultants.
Mandatory reporters have an obligation to report known or suspected cases of child abuse, or neglect, to external Child Protection Authorities. There must be "reasonable grounds" for believing or suspecting that a child is at risk of harm, but reasonable grounds does not require confirmation or clear proof. Reasonable grounds can be based on:
- First-hand observation.
- Disclosure by the young person or any other person.
- Inferences based on professional training or experience.
Some States and Territories require the degree of "harm" to be "significant" to be reportable to external authorities. There are online tools or publications to aid with this. NextSense procedures will vary depending on the state or territory in which the incident occurs. In all cases, unless otherwise advised by Child Protection authorities, an internal investigation of an incident must cease once reported to Child Protection Authorities. There must be no discussion with the young person’s carers or guardians regarding the matter.
Failure to report is a prosecutable offence. Harm includes:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Neglect or relinquishing of care
- Concerns about the care environment such as carer substance abuse, mental health or domestic violence
Reportable Conduct committed by employees
Reportable Conduct law in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT requires the reporting of:
- Convictions involving an employee.
- Findings of investigations into alleged misconduct involving an employee.
Convictions include a finding of guilt by a court, even if the court exercised discretion and did not proceed to a conviction.
Reportable conduct includes:
- Any sexual misconduct involving or in the presence of a child.
- Any assault, ill-treatment or neglect of a child.
- Any behaviour that may cause psychological harm to a child.
State and territory authorities can monitor internal investigations into any allegations, as well as review findings and proposed actions. In some cases, the designated authority can conduct the investigation itself, or make recommendations for the internal handling of an allegation.
Procedures for preventing and responding to allegations of reportable conduct must be monitored by the designated authority.
This document provides a framework for internal and external recruitment. Recruitment processes are professional, fair and equitable in accordance with relevant legislation.
This policy applies to all NextSense employees involved in recruitment activities.
This policy discusses recruitment and probity in employment at NextSense.
- NextSense is committed to selecting employees through fair and equitable recruiting practices.
- Suitable candidates are identified based on their experience, skills, qualifications and potential.
- All appropriate vacancies are advertised internally and externally, except in rare circumstances where an internal employee has been identified as the most suitable talent for a position, or when a suitable incumbent is available for a short-term or fixed-term role.
- Closing dates depend on circumstances and department needs.
- Internal and external applicants must submit an application form and a current resume. Cover letters are optional.
- People & Culture arrange all advertising and can advise on the most appropriate strategies.
- People & Culture and the relevant hiring manager make sure that all recruitment activities and procedures are carried out properly and that documents are obtained and checked in accordance with the NextSense Recruitment Process.
Probity in employment
- Potential NextSense employees must undertake pre-employment screening assessments.
- People & Culture and the relevant hiring manager make sure that all pre-employment screening assessments are carried out properly and that documents are obtained and checked in accordance with the NextSense Recruitment Process prior to commencing employment.
- Pre-employment screening assessments include but are not limited to the following:
- Pre-employment medical assessment
Candidates for child facing positions may be required to undergo a pre-employment medical test. The candidate will be notified that this is part of the recruitment process. It is arranged by the candidate and conducted by a medical practitioner. Offers of employment are subject to the results.
- State and NDIS specific worker screening checks
Candidates for child-facing positions or those having access to children’s records must obtain a state-relevant working with children check. The Working With Children check, or state equivalent, must be valid at the time of recruitment and must be renewed every 5 years. It is arranged and paid for by the candidate. In addition, NextSense will comply with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018 and any subsequent amendments.
- Criminal history check
All candidates must obtain a national criminal history check or equivalent. It must be no older than 6 months at the time of recruitment and must be renewed every 4 years. It is arranged and paid for by the candidate.
- Visa/work status check
Where required, People & Culture will arrange for a visa/work status check to confirm the candidate’s legal right to work. The candidate must provide documentation such as their passport or visa status/confirmation to NextSense in order to process the necessary check.
- Reference check
The candidate must provide two professional references, which must be from the direct managers/supervisors of the candidate. Ideally, at least one reference would come from the candidate’s immediate or most recent employment. In the case of internal candidates, the current manager and potential manager will discuss the candidate’s work history and performance in accordance with the NextSense Recruitment Process.
- Teacher accreditation
Candidates for teaching positions must provide evidence of current teacher accreditation in their relevant state. It is not a requirement of NESA nor NextSense for non-school based teachers to be accredited. Itinerant teachers or teacher-consultants who work with Remote Services or School Support Services are not required to hold accreditation. However, they may choose to maintain accreditation on a voluntary basis. This will be the financial responsibility of the candidate. The hiring manager is responsible for verifying teacher accreditation.
- Professional memberships
Candidates for any health professional position (ie, therapist) must hold a current professional membership, inclusive of associated costs. They must provide evidence of current membership with the relevant professional association. The hiring manager is responsible for verifying the accreditation.
Some roles may require certain licenses, statuses, experiences, education or other attributes. This are clearly established in the position description and candidates are made aware when a role is contingent on compliance with these requirements.
- Pre-employment medical assessment
Breaches of this policy
Candidates and NextSense employees must report any breach or concerns about a breach of this policy to their manager or hiring manager. If they are not comfortable with this, they must report to People & Culture. People & Culture will assess the seriousness of any alleged breaches.
This document informs NextSense employees of the standards of behaviour and other requirements that must be adhered to when working with children and vulnerable people.
NextSense will ensure children and vulnerable people in its care are safe and secure. This is consistent with our mission and values and complies with legislative obligations. This document will:
- Clarify the expectations of employees who work with children or vulnerable people.
- Outline how to provide a safe and supportive environment for children, vulnerable people and employees.
- Provide guidance in building and maintaining a contemporary workplace that is safe, respectful, professional and legally compliant.
This document is to be read in conjunction with the NextSense Code of Conduct and Ethics policy and related procedures (see References).
This document is not exhaustive and does not identify every potential scenario of concern in the workplace.
The document applies to all employees engaged to work at, or provide services to, NextSense. ‘Employee’ refers to:
- Paid staff whether employed on a permanent, temporary or casual basis.
- Volunteers, contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and students on practicum placements.
The policy also applies to all employees conducting business and/or activities on behalf of NextSense. Adherence to this policy is required by NextSense employees in all states and territories and applies to both national and international operations.
Employees must be familiar with and comply with child and vulnerable people protection legislation as it varies over time. The specific legislation that applies to an employee will depend on the state or territory in which the employee works. If an employee is in doubt as to which child protection legislation is applicable, they should seek advice from:
- Business Partner, People and Culture;
- The Quality and Risk Manager;
- Director of Services; or
- The Chief Executive.
Failure to comply with the child and vulnerable people protection responsibilities and the obligations required by legislation, or this document, will result in disciplinary action being taken, including:
- Immediate termination of employment;
- Termination of contractor agreement;
- Notification to external agencies; and/or
- Criminal charges.
If an employee becomes aware of a possible breach of this document or legislation by another employee they must report this to their Manager or to the Quality and Risk Manager. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
Responsibilities and Obligations
Duty of Care
An employee must legally take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of all others that they encounter as part of their engagement with NextSense. These obligations arise from the specific role and responsibilities of the employee and may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Providing adequate supervision.
- Following procedures relating to a child and vulnerable person’s safety, welfare and wellbeing (for example, reporting procedures).
- Demonstrating personal behaviours that promote the safety, welfare and well-being of children and vulnerable people.
- Providing medical assistance (if competent to do so) or seeking assistance from a medically trained person to aid a child or vulnerable person who is injured or becomes sick.
- Protecting a child or vulnerable person from known hazards that pose a risk of harm and which can be reasonably predicted.
- Taking appropriate action where a child or a vulnerable person’s safety, welfare or wellbeing is at risk.
The standard of care required must consider various factors, such as a child or a vulnerable person’s maturity, ability and circumstances. Duty of care applies during all activities and functions conducted or arranged by NextSense where children or vulnerable people are in the care of employees. Employees must assess and manage the risk associated with any activity before going ahead.
Actual harm, or potential to cause significant harm to a child or a vulnerable person, caused by:
- a single serious failure to exercise appropriate duty of care; or
- repeated less serious failures to exercise appropriate duty of care,
may constitute misconduct, neglect or negligence and/or a breach of this policy.
Employees must not put themselves in a position that may create a risk of an allegation of a child or vulnerable person protection nature being made. For example, employees must not:
- be alone with a child or a vulnerable person, unless they are in the view of others and/or there is a reasonable requirement to do so.
Employees must act professionally and appropriately when dealing with children and vulnerable people and others. This includes using appropriate language and tone. Rude or insulting behaviour, including
- Verbal aggression;
- Abusive, threatening or derogatory language or conduct;
- Intimidating words or actions towards children or vulnerable people is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to engage in such conduct towards others in their presence.
Employees must not engage in inappropriate physical contact, or act in ways that may cause a child or a vulnerable person to reasonably fear that unjustified force will be used against them. Examples of inappropriate physical contact include (but are not limited to):
- Intentional and unjustified use of physical force.
- Throwing an object to gain a child or vulnerable person’s attention in a hostile way.
- Restraining a child or vulnerable person (unless as part of an approved behaviour management plan).
- Pushing, pulling, shoving, grabbing, hitting, pinching, poking, shaking or throwing a child or vulnerable person.
Examples of conduct that involves the reasonable use of physical contact for exercising appropriate control over a child or vulnerable person include (but are not limited to):
- Disarming a child or vulnerable person who is at risk of harming themselves or another person.
- Separating children or vulnerable people who are fighting.
- Reasonable use of physical force for the protection of self or others.
When correcting or disciplining a child or vulnerable person, employees consider what is reasonable or appropriate for the situation and the child or vulnerable person’s maturity, ability and circumstances. Discipline is excessive if it is inconsistent with a child or a vulnerable person’s behaviour. Examples of ill-treatment include (but are not limited to):
- Locking a child or a vulnerable person in a confined space as punishment.
- Tying a child or vulnerable person to a chair.
- In a school context, keeping a child on detention during lunch without allowing them to eat or go to the toilet.
Medication, drugs, and other substances
For a child or vulnerable person, employees must not purchase, offer, supply, give, administer, condone or encourage the use of:
- Illegal drugs.
- Restricted substances.
- Prescribed or non-prescribed medication (unless dealing with or administering medication in accordance with relevant policy).
Professional relationships and boundaries
Employees must act professionally and appropriately when dealing with children, vulnerable people and others. This includes maintaining appropriate professional boundaries.
- A single serious "crossing of the boundaries" by an employee;
- Repeated less serious breaches of professional conduct; or
- Exercise of poor judgment
may constitute misconduct, sexual misconduct and/or a breach of this policy.
Employees must not behave in a way that could be perceived as an inappropriate with a child, a group of children, or with a vulnerable person or people.
- Employees must not invite children or vulnerable people to join their personal electronic social networking site/s or accept invitations to join theirs.
- Employees must not socialise with children or vulnerable people or invite them to their home.
- Employees may only attend the homes of children and vulnerable people if they have an appropriate professional reason, and the consent of the parents/carers’ and NextSense Quality and Risk Manager.
- Employees may also attend the homes of children and vulnerable people for regular therapy-based home visits, as per an agreement with the parents/carers.
An employee who is unsure about the appropriateness of a relationship with a child or vulnerable person or their family, must disclose it to the Quality and Risk Manager, Head of Education, Director of Services or the Chief Executive of NextSense.
Employees must not engage in grooming behaviour. This involves a pattern of conduct that is consistent with preparing a child or vulnerable person for sexual activity. Examples of grooming behaviours include:
- Persuading a child or vulnerable person, or group of children or vulnerable people that they have a "special" relationship, for example, by:
- Spending inappropriate special time with them.
- Inappropriately giving gifts.
- Showing special favours to them but not others.
- Inappropriately allowing the child or vulnerable person to overstep rules.
- Asking the child or vulnerable person to keep this relationship to themselves.
- Testing boundaries, for example, by:
- Undressing in front of a child or a vulnerable person.
- Encouraging inappropriate physical contact (even where it is not overtly sexual).
- Talking about sex.
- "Accidental" intimate touching.
- Inappropriately extending a relationship outside of work
- Inappropriate personal communication
- Including emails.
- Telephone calls.
- Text messages.
- Social media.
- Web forums of a sexual nature.
If there are reasons for an employee to communicate with children or vulnerable people or their families using electronic information and communication technology for reasons other than work purposes, it is important to discuss this with and gain the approval of the Quality and Risk Manager or the Chief Executive of NextSense.
Sexually inappropriate behaviour
Employees must not make sexually explicit comments or engage in other sexually overt or implied behaviour towards or in the presence of children or vulnerable people. Such behaviour may constitute sexual misconduct. Examples of sexual behaviours include:
- Inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature.
- Unwarranted and inappropriate touching.
- Exposure of children or vulnerable people to sexual behaviour of others.
- Watching children or vulnerable people undress in circumstances where supervision is not required.
Employees must not have an intimate, romantic or sexual relationship with any child or vulnerable person who is under their care or supervision regardless of their age. It is irrelevant whether the relationship is consensual, non-consensual, known to or condoned by parents, guardians or caregivers.
Employees must not commit a sexual offence. This encompasses all criminal offences involving a sexual element that is committed against, with or in the presence of a child or vulnerable person.
Extreme care must be taken in any relationship between an employee and a former client, even if the client is currently over 18 years of age. A personal or sexual relationship with a former client may be considered sexual misconduct if it is considered that the employee used his/her position to develop and/or maintain an inappropriate personal or intimate relationship with the person when they were a client of NextSense.
Working With Children checks (WWCC) and criminal checks
Employees required to have a WWCC and do not have a current clearance, or are barred from working with children, cannot continue to be engaged in child-related work. Consequently, their employment or engagement with NextSense may be terminated.
Employees who work with vulnerable people are required to have a criminal check. If the result is unsatisfactory, they cannot continue to be engaged in working with vulnerable people. Consequently, their employment or engagement with NextSense may be terminated.
The working with children check/criminal check must be current for the state or territory in which the employee is required to work.
Notification and reporting
To satisfy reporting and notification requirements under the law, including:
- Mandatory requirements under the relevant state or territory legislation.
- Reportable conduct requirements under any relevant state or territory legislation.
- Incident reporting requirements under NDIS practice standards.
- Incident reporting as per ACEQA requirements.
- Incident reporting as per NESA requirements.
See Mandatory Reporting Procedures.
In line with NextSense's values, employees must notify NextSense of certain matters of concern, including:
- If they are charged with or convicted of an offence relevant to working in child or vulnerable person-related employment.
- If they have had any reportable conduct allegation made against them.
- Any allegations or convictions of reportable conduct involving any other employee that they are aware of, or reasonably suspect.
- Any information or concerns about inappropriate behaviour by any employee.
- Reporting to their NextSense Manager suspected risk of significant harm to a child or a vulnerable person.
NextSense will determine if reporting or notification needs to be made to the relevant authority, and/or the police.
Employees must maintain confidentiality in relation to any matters of a child or vulnerable person protection nature and only discuss the matter with those required to be notified or reported to. Where an employee is in doubt as to the requirements of confidentiality, they should seek advice from their Manager or the Quality and Risk Manager.
Employees must not take detrimental action against a complainant or person who reports information as required by legislation and this document. Such action is unlawful, may be regarded as serious misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
An employee must maintain appropriate records and data in relation to their professional practice in the care and protection of children and vulnerable people (see Case notes standard and Management of client record policy). Records may include:
- Case notes.
- Student/client files.
- Behaviour management plans.
- Individual service plans.
An employee must keep concurrent records of any disclosure, observations and discussions regarding a child or vulnerable person protection matter, including any alleged breach of this document. These records must be kept in a secure location as provided for by NextSense .
Allegations of a child or vulnerable person protection nature against an employee will be investigated and dealt with in line with NextSense Policy and Legislation.
Definitions and abbreviations
|Child or children||Any person under the age of 18 years.|
|Vulnerable person||Any person aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason.|
|WWCC||Working with Children Checks|
- Case notes standard (STD00005)
- Code of conduct and ethics policy (POL00009)
- Management of client record policy (POL00004)
- Incident management policy (POL00047)
- Working With Children Check procedure (PRD00003)
This policy describes NextSense's responsibilities for preventing and managing incidents.
This policy applies to all services except Education who have their own policies.
At NextSense we aim to prevent incidents by having robust systems for:
- Risk identification and reduction
- Addressing feedback
- Employee screening, conduct and training and
- Work health and safety.
However, if incidents (see definition) do occur we are responsible for identifying, responding to, and managing them. Incidents are investigated by employees or contractors trained in incident investigation.
We always respect and respond to our clients’ needs, privacy and values to support their safety and wellbeing. This includes during an incident to prevent any further harm and during reporting, investigation and resolution. Investigations follow the principle of procedural fairness for all people involved.
All incidents are different so the level of investigation, if any, and action will depend on the harm caused and the risk of future harm.
All incidents and related investigations and actions are recorded and tracked in our Incident Management System.
Any incident is viewed as an opportunity for learning: to eliminate causes of incidents and to improve our service and systems so incidents are prevented. We will also review the Incident Management System each year to assess if it is effective and accessible for clients and to look for any systematic issues or causes of incidents.
Reportable incidents which involve a client receiving services funded by the NDIS will be reported to the NDIS Commission following our ‘NDIS incident management and reportable incidents procedure’ (PRD00027). This includes reporting the incident to the police under mandatory reporting requirements or where criminal behaviour has occurred or is alleged or suspected. Reportable incidents which involve clients who are not funded by the NDIS will be reported to the relevant authority, such as the police and/or medical authorities following our "Reportable conduct procedure" (PRD00002).
Definitions and abbreviations
|Reportable incident||For an incident to be reportable it needs happen (or allegedly happen) in connection with the provision of supports or services. This includes:
It covers incidents that:
|Procedural fairness||Procedural fairness is a legal principle that ensures fair decision making and requires:
NDIS incident management and reportable incidents procedure (PRD00027) – pending.
Reportable conduct procedure (PRD00002) – pending.