The Board has a duty pursuant to the Teachers Registration and Standards Act 2004 (the Act) to establish and maintain a system of registration of teachers and professional standards for teachers with a view to safeguarding the public interest by ensuring the teaching profession is of high quality and its members are both competent educators, and fit and proper persons to have the care of children. In fulfilment of these functions, the Board is given the ability to screen, monitor and assess the suitability of people to be, or continue to be, registered as teachers.
One of the methods in which the Board ensures that only fit and proper persons are, or continue to be registered as teachers, is by investigating allegations of unprofessional conduct against teachers to determine whether there is proper cause for disciplinary action.
The Board also investigates allegations relating to a teacher's capacity where concerns have been raised that a teachers' capacity to teach may be seriously impaired by an illness or disability affecting their behaviour or competence as a teacher.
The Registrar has an independent statutory role in relation to the investigation of allegations against teachers and to exercises a prosecutorial discretion. Pursuant to section 34 of the Act the Registrar, or a person authorised by the Registrar (usually an Investigations Officer employed by the Board) has the power to investigate the conduct, competence and capacity of a teacher. When acting in an investigative and prosecutorial role the Registrar acts independently of the Board and is not directed by the Board in relation to the conduct of a specific case.
Depending on the outcome of an investigation the Registrar may either determine there is no evidence to support the allegation(s), resolve the matter informally or recommend to the Board that an Inquiry is held pursuant to Part 7 of the Act to determine whether there is proper cause for disciplinary action (section 35) or whether a teacher's capacity to teach is seriously impaired by an illness or disability affecting the person's behaviour or competence as a teacher.
The Board may receive information about allegations relating to teachers from a variety of sources including teachers themselves, colleagues, members of the public, employers, police services, Director of Public Prosecutions, other teacher registration bodies. Information relating to a teachers criminal record check including criminal charges and/or convictions is obtained from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) during the conduct of mandatory Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks which the Board conducts on every teacher upon application for registration and at each renewal of registration (3 yearly).
Cancelling or imposing conditions on a Teacher's Registration
Registration can be cancelled or further conditions imposed as a result of disciplinary or incapacity proceedings instigated pursuant to Part 7 of the Act.
Once a formal complaint has been laid (generally by the Registrar) outlining the particulars of the allegations, the Board holds a formal Inquiry to determine whether or not there is cause for disciplinary action or whether the teacher's capacity to teach is seriously impaired by an illness or disability affecting the person's behaviour or competence as a teacher.
The purpose of commencing disciplinary proceedings is to safeguard the public interest in there being a teaching profession whose members are competent educators and fit and proper persons to have the care of children.
For further information regarding disciplinary or incapacity proceedings please refer to Information Sheet - Matters Pursuant to Part 7 Act . A summary of completed Inquiries can be found in Case Summaries relating to Unprofessional Conduct.
There may be cause for disciplinary action under Section 33 of the Act if the teacher has:-
- improperly obtained registration (for example provided a fraudulent certificate of qualification);
- the teacher is guilty of unprofessional conduct;
- the teacher is not a fit and proper person to be a registered teacher;
- or the teacher's registration has been suspended, or cancelled by another teacher regulatory authority .
Incapacity to teach under Section 38 of the Act where a teacher's capacity to teach is seriously impaired by an illness or disability affecting behaviour or competence as a teacher
As defined in Section 3 of the Act Unprofessional Conduct means:
- a contravention of the Act or the repealed provisions ;
- a contravention of a condition of registration as a teacher under this Act or the repealed provisions; or
- Incompetence; or
- disgraceful or improper conduct
Disgraceful or improper conduct is a term which has been used for a long time. It has a special legal meaning and the Board is guided by the law when deciding if a teacher is guilty of unprofessional conduct.
All matters must be proved on the balance of probabilities after considering all evidence. This is distinguished from criminal proceedings which require proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The Board must provide a written statement of reasons for its decision.
For further information please contact the staff of the Investigation Unit by telephone on +61 8 8226 5984.