Volunteering

Voluntary workers make a significant contribution to the St Patrick’s school community by giving their time and sharing their God-given skills, talents and expertise with others.

The Catholic Diocese of Maitland Newcastle has an absolute and abiding commitment to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children. As a volunteer working in a diocesan school,  you should be aware of your obligations and responsibilities in protecting students from abuse or neglect.

Becoming a volunteer

To be able to volunteer within a diocesan school you are required to read the volunteer induction handbook and complete all necessary check, inductions and safeguarding training relevant to your volunteer role. This may mean you will be required to obtain a Working with Children Check and/or National Police Check. All paperwork and checks are to be completed and verified before you can commence in your role. Safeguarding training must occur within six months of your commencement as a volunteer.

When a volunteer reports to the school for duty, they must:

  • Collect a volunteers’ badge from the school foyer and to wear it whilst on the school property.
  • Sign in and sign out at the Compass kiosk at the school office. These records are maintained for the purpose of compliance with occupational health and safety legislation and child protection legislation.

Here are some ways in which you can help:

  • Reading activities
  • Craft
  • Library
  • Sports days
  • Excursions
  • Fundraising activities
  • Parents and Friends Association
  • Canteen

Our school’s policy on volunteers can be found by clicking here.

The Children and Young Person’s (Care and Protection) Act 1998

As a volunteer in the state of NSW you can report certain information to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ). You should discuss your concerns with a teacher, assistant principal or principal. You can report your concerns to the DCJ Child Protection Helpline (132 111, 24hr/7days) if you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm and your concerns are current. Risk of significant harm may occur from a single act or omission or to a series of acts or omissions

It is better to be safe than sorry, so if you are uncertain, talk to a staff member at the school.

Part 4 of the Children’s Guardian Act

Part 4 of the Children’s Guardian Act defines diocesan schools as a “schedule 1 entity”  and as such we must have systems for preventing, reporting (to the Children’s’ Guardian) and investigating reportable conduct.

All volunteers who hold a Working with Children Check for the purposes of their role within a diocesan school fall within the scope of Part 4 and may be investigated or alleged “reportable conduct”, which includes sexual offences, misconduct, assault, ill-treatment, neglect, and behaviour that causes psychological harm to children.

As a volunteer “working” at a diocesan school, any alleged reportable conduct will be investigated. It does not matter if the conduct is alleged to have happened outside school and in your private lives.

The Office of Safeguarding is the Diocese specialist safeguarding and child protection service that works with the Children’s Guardian to ensure the Diocese meets its obligations under Part 4. As volunteers you should co-operate with any investigation conducted by the Office of Safeguarding.

The Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012

Under this legislation, people who undertake a role in child-related work in a paid or volunteer capacity in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle are required by law to have a Working with Children Check Clearance. This “clearance” can be obtained by applying online at https://www.ocg.nsw.gov.au/child-safe-organisations/working-with-children-check  Volunteer receive a clearance for free, and it lasts up to five years.

Exemptions apply for volunteers who are a close relative of a student enrolled at the school. See “Statutory Screening Selection Tool” on page 26 of the Volunteer Induction Handbook.