March 10, 2015

Boarding schools and residences across Australia have been actively working to improve safety and wellbeing for students, as well as developing standards to guide the way they operate.

The industry peak bodies that support student boarding – Boarding Australia (BA) and the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA) – have issued a joint statement affirming their ongoing commitment to strengthening the sector’s ability to meet its obligations in providing a safe, high quality and educationally-focused boarding experience.

In embracing the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the boarding industry has taken the opportunity to review the practices and protocols that will continually improve the services they deliver. In particular, the implementation of a national standard and the continued adoption of formal training are key quality improvement initiatives.

Standards Australia has been working with experts in the education, boarding and children’s services sectors to develop an Australian Standard in Boarding Schools Management. Boarding Australia and ABSA report that the industry is in a position to trial the standard to ensure it works for schools and positively contributes to quality outcomes for students.

To achieve the Standard, boarding organisations will be required to show evidence of their commitment to protection, safety and wellbeing of boarders, as well as enhancing staff skills, parent engagement and organisational management. The standard provides student boarding providers with guidance to ensure that a boarding school is delivering a safe, high quality and enriching experience for students. The Boarding Australia National Conference 6-8 July and the ABSA Leaders Symposium from 15-17 August will both have a focus on how boarding schools and residences can meet the standard.

In addition, there is a range of training that has now been delivered to the majority of staff in boarding organisations across Australia. This includes training such as the Duty of Care certificate and formal qualifications in Student Residential Care. The industry supports the adoption of a minimum qualification for boarding staff.

Boarding Australia and ABSA are optimistic that their members will continue to work to gain the confidence of students and families. “The regrettable incidents that have occurred in a minority of boarding schools in the past are not an accurate reflection of a sector that is committed to ongoing improvement with skilled staff providing an excellent experience for boarders and their families”, they said.

For more information, contact Dan Cox, CEO of Boarding Australia on 0428 864 537 or Richard Stokes, Executive Director of ABSA on 07 3205 4940

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