STAFF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT POLICY

Forming part of: Giant Steps Tasmania’s Personnel Manual

 Policy Statement

Giant Steps Tasmania aims to provide services for clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder which meet best contemporary practice, as defined by The Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders  http://www.autismadvisoryboard.org.au/. It aims to do so in a manner that is consistently caring and professional.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set out the professional conduct which will best meet organisational and service aims.

Implementation

BELIEFS

In carrying out their roles and responsibilities, staff will adhere to the school’s ethos which is underpinned by the principles of:

  • Dignity
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Empathy, and
  • Justice

Giant Steps Tasmania operates for the benefit of its students and adult clients. Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff believe that the students/ adult clients are best served in an environment where staff members are ethical, reflective and professional in their outlook and practice.

This means that members of staff agree on the importance of the following:

  • Putting the needs and best interests of their students/ adult clients at the heart of everything they do;
  • Working in a collegial manner;
  • Carrying out their duties in a competent, conscientious and effective manner;
  • Taking responsibility for their actions;
  • Continually aiming to improve their knowledge and practice;
  • Avoiding and preventing discrimination;
  • Maintaining confidentiality;
  • Using the property of Giant Steps Tasmania appropriately;
  • Complying with state and federal law.

CONDUCT

Members of Giant Steps Tasmania staff must:

  • be familiar with and adhere to the policies and procedures of Giant Steps Tasmania;
  • comply promptly, conscientiously and effectively with all lawful and reasonable decisions and directions given by a person having the necessary authority
  • treat colleagues, students/ adult clients, parents and other members of the public in a sensitive manner, respecting their rights and dignity;
  • not behave in ways that could be considered offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening; 
  • remember that they are a role model of appropriate behaviour;
  • act promptly in reporting breaches of State or Commonwealth law and the policies of Giant Steps Tasmania;
  • maintain the accuracy, integrity and appropriate confidentially of all information used in their professional dealings at Giant Steps Tasmania;
  • not discuss a child’s/ adult client’s progress with anyone without the authority to have that information;
  • not talk about a student/ adult client in his/her presence;
  • publicly support all official decisions made at the school, while being aware that opportunities exist for expressing different views through appropriate channels;
  • dress appropriately

 DRESS CODE FOR STAFF

 Clothing must preserve the safety of the wearer and others. Dress, personal appearance and hygiene are also important elements of professional presentation, so clothing must be clean, tidy and neat and must not carry offensive logos or slogans.

Staff are expected to adhere to the following dress code. 

The following items are appropriate for wearing at school :

  • All items of Giant Steps Tasmania Clothing;
  • Trousers and jeans;
  • Long-length shorts;
  • Work shirts, collared shirts, skivvies, polo shirts, t-shirts;
  • Covered shoes;
  • Plain jackets, jumpers, coats, beanies, gloves and scarves;

Broad or wide-brimmed hats must be worn by all staff members during outdoor activities including playground time and walks during Terms 1 and 4 and at any other time designated by the Principal.

The following items are not appropriate for wearing at school :

  • tracksuit pants, leggings, stirrup pants, skins and gym wear
  • short shorts, cut-offs and board shorts
  • singlets (vests)
  • ties and necklaces
  • caps and visors
  • open-toed sandals and thongs
  • brooches and pins

Staff are advised:

  • to wear studs in piercings to protect themselves  from accidental injury when interacting with students (except when in the pool, when studs must be removed);
  • to consider whether the wearing of button-through shirts and blouses could cause embarrassment to themselves, students/ adult clients, or other staff if accidental damage occurred when they were interacting with students;
  • for their own comfort, to consider keeping a change of clothes in school/ with them on excursions, if they think the activities they may be involved in could result in their clothes becoming soiled.

 DUTY OF CARE

Staff have a duty of care to protect others from harm and to support those who have been harmed.  Members of Giant Steps Tasmania staff will promote the safety, welfare and well-being of students, their families and other employees.

All members of the Giant Steps Tasmania community have a right to a physical and emotional environment that is free from unreasonable risk of harm.  Among other things, harm can be caused by:

  • Physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect;
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation;
  • Domestic or family abuse;
  • Bullying, or
  • A person’s own actions (self-harm).

Staff should be alert to signs of such harm and follow the steps of the Mandatory Reporting Policy incorporated in the Safeguarding Policy.

Corporal punishment is prohibited at Giant Steps, Tasmania and any staff member who uses it will have their contract terminated.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

Staff must not discriminate against or harass their colleagues, students/ adult clients or members of the public on the grounds of gender, marital status, pregnancy, age, race, ethnic or national origin, physical, intellectual or developmental impairment, or sexual preference.  Such harassment or discrimination may constitute an offence under the Anti-Discrimination Act.  In addition, staff must not harass or discriminate on the grounds of political or religious conviction.

SEXUAL APPROPRIACY

Employees interactions with students/ adult clients must be, and must be seen to be, appropriate and professional at all times.

Employees must not attempt to sexualize a relationship with a student/ adult client. To do so is a breach of trust, an abuse of authority, professional misconduct, immoral and criminal.  This is particularly relevant in the context of Giant Steps Tasmania where our students/ adult clients are particularly vulnerable. Examples of sexual misconduct include the following:

  • Unwarranted and inappropriate touching of students;
  • Suggestive remarks or actions of a sexual nature;
  • Sexual exhibitionism;
  • Obscene gestures, language, jokes containing sexual references;
  • Inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature;
  • Deliberate exposure of students to the sexual behaviour of others, including pornographic material;
  • Flirtatious behaviour directed at a student.

Staff behaviour to each other and to parents/ carers must be respectful and professional at all times.

USE OF TOBACCO, ALCOHOL, OTHER DRUGS AND MEDICATION

  • In accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, staff must ensure that their use of alcohol and drugs does not affect their work performance or endanger the health and safety of others. This also means that staff who are on medication must ensure that it is safely stored during the time when they have responsibility for students.
  • Smoking when in contact with students on or off-site is prohibited.
  • Being under the influence of illicit drugs when in contact with students on or off-site is prohibited.
  • Employees must not provide students with alcohol or drugs and must not condone the illegal use of alcohol or drugs or the excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • At the request of parents, qualified employees are authorised to administer prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications with written parental consent.

PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY

All staff members have a duty to protect the confidentiality of the students/ adult clients and their families, other staff members and information pertaining to the business operations of Giant Steps Tasmania.

All staff members have an obligation to ensure that:

  • All personal and medical files are secure from unauthorised access and are locked away each evening.
  • All formal and informal conversations in public places do not breach client confidentiality.

Personnel files are confidential.  Staff members wishing to view their own personnel file may do so within the Administrator’s office.

Staff will not keep images of students/ adult clients on a personal camera, phone or other device for longer than 24 hours and such images will never be uploaded onto any social media site without the permission of the parent/ carer or adult client.

USE OF GIANT STEPS TASMANIA’S RESOURCES

Employees must ensure that all school equipment, resources and consumable items are used appropriately for the work and business of the school.  All equipment should be maintained and used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Limited and occasional private use of Giant Steps Tasmania’s equipment and resources may occur providing that such use does not adversely affect the performance of the employee’s work duties, or the work duties of others, or the business or reputation of the school.  Examples of where this might occur include:

  • Limited, occasional and brief personal telephone calls,
  • Limited and occasional personal use of a photocopier,
  • Limited and occasional personal use of computers, email and internet subject to Giant Steps Tasmania’s Technology Policy.

Employees must have approval to use Giant Steps Tasmania’s equipment and resources off-site for private use, and must ensure that they are safely stored and secured.

BREACHES OF THE STAFF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT POLICY

Potential breaches of the Staff Professional Conduct Policy, including apparent breaches and allegations, will be dealt with in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice.

Employees should be aware that the Principal and/or the Board may apply sanctions if this policy is breached. Depending on the nature of the breach, sanctions such as the following may apply:

  • Appropriate warnings
  • Performance Counselling
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal
  • Bringing of criminal charges or civil action.