The investigation process attempts to balance the following interests:
- The needs of the complainant to be heard and for ongoing safety, confidentiality, justice, restitution and closure.
- The needs of the wider community for the prosecution of the investigation to deliver a finding and for the timely implementation of the recommendations from the investigation so that the potential of further abuse is reduced or eliminated.
- The needs of the person subject of the allegation for procedural fairness, confidentiality and closure.
Important principles during the investigation process
Support for all parties
The core principle in the process of addressing alleged conduct is that the safety of all parties is paramount. It should be understood that an organisation has a duty of care to its employees, volunteers, members and visitors to respond to disclosures when they arise.
Investigations are an extraordinary or out-of-routine event. For this reason an investigation may cause increased anxiety for those involved. To ensure procedural fairness to all parties Adsafe is committed to reducing this potential anxiety so that all parties may give the best account of events as possible. This is done through the following support mechanisms.
During the investigation process Adsafe encourages all parties to seek professional counselling. This gives the person an opportunity to discuss their fears and concerns with a professional who is independent to the process. If you believe that professional counselling my assist you during the investigation process discuss this with the appointed investigator.
There are meetings and interviews in the investigation process where important information is provided by and to the investigator. Given the complexity of this process it is considered best practice to have a support person who you can trust to also attend and provide a “second ear” to the proceedings. This allows the person to later clarify and discuss the meeting particulars. Adsafe encourages all persons involved to consider using a support person.
It is the right of the person subject of allegation to appoint someone to act as an advocate (eg lawyer, Union rep) While this is rarely done it is something that could be considered.
Complainants and other parties with disadvantage
Adsafe recognises the possibility of vulnerable or disadvantaged community members needing to be part of an investigation process. Support for these persons will be given by providing someone throughout the process who could:
- complete the complaint forms, read and explain documents.
- assist by acting as a translator.
- act a support person.
- act as an advocate.
- any other required assistance.
Adsafe has a policy principle that disclosures of alleged conduct are to be kept confidential. This is important in that repeatedly discussing alleged conduct with witnesses contaminates the evidence, reducing the chances of the victim being able to receive justice.
This means that Adsafe will ask persons who raise the disclosure not to discuss the matter with anyone but their support person, counsellor or advocate. This can only be on the condition that these persons also commit to keeping the matter confidential.
Interviews with witnesses are only done so on the basis that they also commit to keeping the matter confidential. The person subject of allegation (PSOA) is also asked to keep the matter confidential.
The investigator also makes the commitment to confidentiality. This extends further in that the investigator will not disclose to other parties in the investigation who the other witnesses are and the information they disclose. The investigator will prepare a report outlining the evidence gathered and the conclusion this evidence suggests with recommendations for further action. This report will also be confidential with witnesses only having access to their own statements. The person subject of allegation will only be given the detail of the alleged conduct and the findings on each allegation. Organisational leaders will only be given copies of recommendations specific to their organisation.
For serious matters, Adsafe may have an obligation to notify government agencies of the outcome of an investigation. Adsafe uses sustained findings when assessing and managing the risk of ongoing abuse when a person subject of allegation wishes to attend church events.
The rules or principles of procedural fairness have been developed to ensure that decision- making is fair and reasonable. The Principles of Procedural fairness are:
- The right to a fair hearing. This includes:
- The right to know the detail of the allegation before having to prepare a response.
- The right to give a response before any decision is made.
- The right to sufficient time to prepare a submission.
- The right of reply to a decision.
- An unbiased decision maker. This excludes from the decision making anyone who:
- has brought the complaint.
- has a vested interest in the outcome.
- has a conflict of interest.
- played a part in the investigation.
- Evidence to support a decision.
- The decision should be made only on:
- evidence relevant to the matter.
- evidence to which there is proof.
- the balance of probabilities as a burden of proof. This means that to make a finding there is more evidence for the allegation than against.
- The investigation should make every effort to gather evidence relating to matters in dispute.
- The decision should be made only on:
Reportable Conduct (NSW/ACT)
NNSW, Greater Sydney and South New South Wales Adventist School Companies have funded a Child Protection Investigation Officer (CPIO) within Adsafe. The CPIO is responsible for investigating all employment-related child protection reportable conduct and allegations within NSW and ACT Adventist Schools.
Click here to view the NSW/ACT Schools Investigation Procedures information sheet
Click here to view the NSW/ACT Schools - What to expect PSOA
Reportable Conduct - NSW (Office of the Children's Guardian)
Commission for Children and Young People - VIC