LawSense Dealing With Difficult Parents

Dealing With Difficult Parents in Schools & Understanding Impacts of Recent WHS Law Changes

Date14 March 2024
Time12.00pm-3.35pm AEDT
VenueLive Online with recording (recording access expires 14 April 2024)
Prices includes gst.
SectorNon-State Schools
CPDAddresses 7.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.


Details Price Qty

This ticket is required and must be purchased.


* price includes GST


12.00    LawSense Welcome

12.05    Chairperson’s Introduction

Jeff Davis, Principal, Hillcrest Christian College, Queensland

12.10    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

Ben Tallboys, Principal, Russell Kennedy Lawyers; Legal Consultant to Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA)

1.10    Break

1.20    Dealing with Challenging Scenarios: Separated Parents, Online Criticism, Parents Bullying Staff, Unreasonable Demands, Student Disability, Code of Conduct

Framework for Scenarios

  • Navigating the legal framework
  • Considering the best approach
  • What is the general approach to remember

‘Vexatious’ Parents Bullying Staff

  • Understanding your legal obligations and legal rights
  • Considering the approach that should be taken
  • the initial discussion to the final decision
  • Learning from a case study

Split Parents

  • Understanding your legal obligations and legal rights
  • Some unique challenges

Parents of Students with a Disability

  • Understanding your legal rights and obligations
  • Navigating your position where the student has a disability – responding to unreasonable parent pressure to provide certain adjustments

Online Criticism

  • Examining options in response and at what point you can defensibly use them:
    • 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?
    • restricting or limiting communication with the parent
    • restricting the parent from involvement in school activities
    • banning a parent from a school

Staff Defamation Action

  • Staff commencing defamation action – what are a school’s legal obligations and risks?

Enrolment and Code of Conduct

  • Exploring options to decline further enrolment of the student at the school because of conduct by a parent
  • Outlining a best practice Parent Code of Conduct charter

Jennifer Patterson, Partner, MinterEllison

2.20    Break

2.30    Effectively Managing Complaints: Implementing Best Practice Policies and Communications to Optimise Efficiency and Reduce Legal Risk

  • 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
  • Implementing effective record keeping to protect your legal position – understanding what you should record and who should be keeping notes of records
  • Using “Without Prejudice” communications to try and negotiate an outcome without prejudicing your legal position
  • Knowing when to get lawyers involved

Fiona Manderson, Director of Compliance & Risk, Inhouse Counsel, Hillcrest Christian College; Accredited Independent Children’s Lawyer; Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (Mediator)

3.30      Chairperson’s Conclusion

3.35      Event Close

Presenters / panelists include:

Jeff Davis is the Executive Head of College at Hillcrest Christian College on the Gold Coast, Australia. He has worked for over 35 years in education and more than 20 years as a principal. During this time, he has led some of the largest and fastest growing schools in Australia, both in the public and private education sectors.
Ben Tallboys provides sector-specific, practical legal solutions to schools across Australia. Ben is a passionate and effective advocate for principals dealing with complex matters relating to parents, staff and students, as well as their own employment.
Jen Patterson has extensive experience as an industrial relations, employment and WHS law advisor. Jen has particular expertise advising schools. She has acted for the Association of Independent Schools in NSW for more than 20 years and sits on their Employee Relations Committee. Jen was the lead adviser to the AISNSW on industrial strategy for its member schools following the two most recent legislative reforms.
Fiona Manderson was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia in January 2005. She practiced in traditional law firms and Legal Aid Queensland for 15 years before leaving to undertake an “in-house” role at Hillcrest Christian College. Fiona has significant experience in family, child protection and domestic violence law, employment law, discrimination, defamation, consumer protection, and contractual disputes.

Terms & Conditions