LawSense Dealing With Difficult Parents – NSW State Schools

Navigating Recent Legislative Changes & Challenging Scenarios and Implementing Best Practice

Date20 March 2024
Time9.00am-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney time)
VenueLive Online with recording - recording access expires 20 April 2024
Prices includes gst.
SectorNSW State Schools
CPDAddresses 7.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
NSW: Provides Elective PD towards NESA Registration Requirements
Details Price Qty

This ticket is required and must be purchased.


* price includes GST

9.00      LawSense Welcome

9.05      Chairperson’s Introduction

Lila Mularczyk OAM, Education Consultant; former Director, Secondary Education, NSW Department of Education; Immediate Past President, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council

9.10      Psychosocial Hazards and Difficult Parents: Examining the Impacts of Recent Legislative Change on Rights, Obligations and Management of Difficult Parents

Recent Changes in the Law and Interaction with Other Laws

  • Outlining the recent changes to WHS legislation affecting schools including:
    • examining definitions or psychosocial hazard and how this can include parent behaviours
    • examining interactions with other laws, including laws regarding bullying and sexual harassment – what has changed in responding to these issues?
    • understanding obligations to identify reasonably foreseeable psychosocial hazards arising from interaction with parents

Examining Impacts on Schools and Updating Policies Regarding Parents

  • Examining how the new laws affect management by the school of parent interactions
  • Dealing with regulators:
    • understanding the role and current focus of regulators in investigating and enforcing a school’s requirements regarding psycho-social hazards
    • how are regulators responding to complaints from parents?
  • Meeting you obligation to introduce, maintain and review control measures to eliminate (or minimise) psychosocial risks arising from the conduct of parents
  • Updating policies and practices to meet your obligations and expectations regarding psycho-social hazards and parents

John Makris, Partner, Kingston Reid

10.10    Break

10.20    Dealing with Challenging Scenarios: Vexatious Parents, Online Criticism, Breach of DVO’s, Bad Parent Behaviour Towards Other Parents or Students

Examining Obligations and Options – Limiting Communication, Restricting Parents Access, Banning

  • Exploring inappropriate parent behaviours encountered by schools
  • Outlining duty of care and other obligations in dealing with difficult parents
  • Understanding options in responding to parent behaviour, including:
    • restricting or limiting communication with the parent
    • restricting the parent from involvement in school activities
    • banning a parent from a school

Effectively Using Code of Conduct Policies/Charters

  • Optimising Parent Code of Conduct policies to manage parent behaviour and protect your legal position

Managing Particular Scenarios:

Online Criticism

  • Responding to posts or messages online:
    • understanding the legal position of the school and/or staff targeted and potential pitfalls
    • approaching websites, blogs, Google, or Facebook to have material removed. What are your options where material is hosted offshore?
    • staff commencing defamation action – what are a school’s legal obligations and risks?

Conflict Between Parents, Including Breach of DVO’s/AVOs

  • Managing conflict between parents on or outside school grounds
  • Parents breaching Family Court orders or domestic violence related orders
    • understanding the extent of the school’s obligation to be aware of Family Court orders or Domestic Violence Orders, including interim orders
    • examining the extent of your obligations to prevent a parent attending school grounds or school activities to ensure an order is not breached. What sort of practical “work-arounds” can be implemented?

Conflict Between Families, Parent Behaviour Towards Other Students

  • Responding to conflict between families which is affecting student relationships within the school
  • Dealing with parents behaving inappropriately towards or bullying other students outside the school, including on social media

Warring Ex-Spouses, New Partners, and Blended Families

  • Understanding the “rights” of a parent’s new partner and dealing with difficult behaviours

Leighton Hawkes, Principal, McCabes Lawyers

11.20    Break

11.30    Implementing Best Practice Policies, Communications and Record-Keeping to Optimise Complaints Management and Your Legal Position

  • Examining effective polices in receiving, triaging, and escalating parent complaints
  • Managing communications:
  • when to phone, email or meet
    • dealing with requests by parents to record communications or meetings
    • taking and distributing notes of meetings or other interactions
    • managing meetings or communications where the parent is using or wishes to include a lawyer or barrister
  • Understanding the role of and managing the “support person” in meetings or interviews
  • Using “Without Prejudice” communications to try and negotiate an outcome without prejudicing your legal position
  • Complaints to the Ombudsman – navigating your rights and obligations and how you should respond
  • Implementing effective record keeping protecting your legal position – understanding what you should record and who should be keeping notes of records

Christa Lenard, Partner, Kingston Reid

12.25    Chairperson’s Conclusion

12.30    Event Close

Presenters / panelists include:

With over 20 years’ experience working in regulatory workplace health and safety, dealing with regulators, and providing advice and representation on numerous issues, John is regarded as a notable senior leader in the industry. John has been recognised as a leading lawyer in his field for many years running, including recognition as a Leading individual for Workplace Health And Safety in The Legal 500, 2023 and a listing in Chambers Asia-Pacific 2023 for Health & Safety.
Leighton Hawkes commenced his career in claims management and other technical roles with a major Australian insurance, working on claims for the NSW Treasury Managed Fund (TMF). Leighton has acted for the NSW Department of Education for a significant number of years. Presently he acts in a diverse range of matters, including claims arising from public liability, property damage to NSW schools, historical sexual abuse, discrimination (employee and disability), and Coronial enquiries.
Christa Lenard is a workplace relations and employment lawyer with extensive experience in advising public sector departments and agencies at both Commonwealth and state level, as well as large and medium private sector companies.

Terms & Conditions