Maria Saraceni is a barrister practising in regulatory and compliance law - particularly in workplace relations; employment-related matters and occupational safety and health. She is also an active non-executive Director, an accomplished public speaker and an Adjunct Professor at murdoch University.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Maria recently to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the sector today.
You can find the full Q&A below.
What are some of the key trends and developments in the area of Education Law that you are seeing in your practice currently?
Greater awareness of the need for more current risk management so as to minimise exposure to legal liability.
Why have school sport and excursions become such a big legal issue?
The current environment (incl geo-politically ie. rise in terrorism attacks; kidnapping of foreigners when overseas; climatic changes- earthquakes; cyclones/hurricanes) and the greater social media awareness of these risks and the consequences that fly…. There are also criminal cases where teachers and /or coaches have sexually interfered with their charges nd the public reporting of those cases….etc
Your presentation will touch on risk assessments for school sport and excursions. Can you briefly discuss some key recommendations for schools?
Risk Management principles are well developed in the business community and guidance can be obtained from there. Do schools have persons with the correct skills to guide them and their teachers in reviewing and analysing risks in sports and excursions? It is not sufficient to buy an off-the shelf Safety Management System….it needs to be adapted to the particular circumstances of the School and it needs to be a “living” document . It needs to be implemented. This requires the ongoing training and upskilling of teachers and the development of appropriate tools to help teachers in this process
Why is duty of care such a concern for school staff?
Legal liability rests with staff and financial consequences that flow from that. Insurance protection is limited. Further, the fact that teachers have to meet the “fit and proper” test with the Teachers Registration Board – such that their ability to earn a living could be impacted.
Are there any specific issues that school lawyers should keep on their radar in 2018?
The Western Australian Government is increasing penalties for occupational health and safety breaches and is looking at finally adopting the harmonised model that most Australian jurisdictions are under.
You can hear more from Maria at the School Law: Duty Under the Microscope seminar, being held on Thursday 16 November at the Parmelia Hilton Hotel, Perth.