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Children’s Guardian Act 2019

The Children’s Guardian Act 2019governs the functions and responsibilities of the Children’s Guardian to:

  • Accredit and monitor adoption service providers and OOHC agencies
  • Regulate children’s employment
  • Administer the Reportable Conduct Scheme
  • Administer the Official Community Visitors scheme (in relation to children).

Accreditation and monitoring of adoption service providers and OOHC agencies

Agencies must be accredited by the Children's Guardian to provide adoption services or statutory OOHC under the NSW Children’s Guardian Act. The accreditation process provides a formal framework based on standards for service delivery.

The NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care 2015, which were developed in consultation with the OOHC and adoption sector, are applied by the Children’s Guardian for the accreditation of agencies in NSW. The standards establish a clear benchmark for quality of care that is nurturing, safe and secure from every organisation that provides OOHC. These are strength-based to encourage agencies to continuously strive for best practice.

Reportable Conduct Scheme

The Reportable Conduct Scheme monitors how certain organisations that provide services to children investigate and report on allegations of types of conduct ('reportable conduct' or 'reportable convictions') made against their employees, volunteers or certain contractors. Organisations that are required to comply with the scheme include: schools, child care centres, health services providers, OOHC providers and religious bodies.

When the head of one of these organisations becomes aware of an allegation of reportable conduct or a reportable conviction they must notify the Children’s Guardian within seven business days and conduct an investigation into the allegations (section 29).

‘Reportable conduct’ includes a sexual offence, sexual misconduct, ill treatment of a child, an assault against a child, neglect of a child and behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child (section 20). A ‘reportable conviction’ means a conviction (including a finding of guilt without the court proceeding to a conviction) of an offence involving reportable conduct (section 19).

If the organisation’s final report is not ready to submit within 30 calendar days, the head of the organisation must provide an interim report with information about the progress of the investigation and an expected timeframe for completion (section 36).

For more information on the reportable conduct scheme see Reporting and responding to child wellbeing and safety concerns

Official Community Visitor scheme

The Official Community Visitor Scheme, operated by the Office of the Children’s Guardian, provides support to people living in supported accommodation across NSW. Children in residential OOHC are a focus group of the scheme.

Official Community Visitors (OCVs) have a wide array of powers including:

  • entering and inspecting a place where residential OOHC is provided confer with a child who is a resident and
  • providing the Children’s Guardian with advice or reports on any matters relating to the conduct of the service (section 145).

OCVs provide an independent voice raising issues on behalf of residents to improve the standard of care they receive, and ensure they achieve their goals, and lead meaningful lives. OCVs come from a wide cross-section of the community, including people who have direct experience and expertise in areas such as disability services and supports, mental health, child protection, OOHC, advocacy, and health care.

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Last updated: 03 May 2021