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Children on University Premises Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Western Sydney University acknowledges that staff and students may need to bring their children with them onto University premises occasionally and that children other than those of staff and students will attend events or activities at University premises.

(2) The University, in promoting equal opportunity in employment and education, is committed to supporting policies and practices which assist staff and students with family responsibilities. The University has child care centres on some of its campuses and it supports flexible working arrangements for its staff through leave provisions in the Staff Agreements and other policies in order to assist staff and students.

(3) The University is also committed to supporting women who wish to breastfeed their child while participating in work or study by provision of suitable facilities or arrangements.

(4) This policy provides the University's position on and guidance for determining the circumstances in which it is appropriate for children to be on University premises or involved in University activities, and the conditions that apply whilst they are on University premises.

(5) This policy should be read in conjunction with the Carer's Responsibilities in the Workplace Policy, the Work Health and Safety Policy, the Examinations Policy and the Conflict of Interest Policy.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(6) For the purpose of this policy:

  1. Class - an attendance, required of a student to undertake their studies including but not limited to any lecture, tutorial, practicum, field trip, excursion, short course, conference or seminar, but excludes formal examinations and work placements.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(7) Reasonable consideration will be given to requests from staff and students to bring their children onto University premises (including classes) on an occasional and short-term basis. Bringing a child/children to class or to work at the University should not be considered an alternative to other child-care arrangements.

(8) Parents and guardians will maintain ultimate responsibility for the safety of their children and are required to have continued supervision of their children at all times when they are on University premises. In light of a parent or guardian's primary responsibility for the care and safety of their children, it is unreasonable to impose such responsibility on others in the workplace and therefore University staff must not be asked to take responsibility for supervision of children of other staff members or students whilst on University premises and cannot accept such responsibility.

(9) In accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the University has responsibility for protecting non-employees, including children, from exposure to risks to their health and safety arising out of University activities. Accordingly, children are not allowed:

  1. onto University premises where the University has concerns related to health and safety, of either the child/children or of others, e.g. children with a contagious illness must not be brought to class or work, and
  2. in areas such as but not limited to laboratories and practicum rooms, laboratory preparation or equipment rooms, machinery areas, production plants, workshops, storage facilities, hothouses, animal houses and art studios, except in accordance with Clauses 13 and 14.

(10) In addition, children are not allowed to:

  1. enter a class or workspace where their presence may disrupt the learning of other students, or the work of staff, or
  2. attend a formal examination.

(11) The University can request that a child/children be removed from University premises where there is a concern related to health and safety of a child or the child poses a risk to others, or where the child/children is causing disruption to work and/or learning. Where such a request is made it will normally come from the University staff member in-charge or from Campus Safety and Security staff. Staff and students must comply with such requests.

(12) Where a parent or guardian brings a child onto University premises, they are not permitted to use any University equipment including University IT systems. Access to the University's IT systems is in accordance with the IT Acceptable Use of Resources Policy.

(13) Parents and guardians are permitted to take children into the Computer Laboratories, Libraries or any other non-teaching area subject to any particular safety, security or other regulations or practices which may apply to the specific area (refer Clause 11).

(14) Parents and guardians including students and staff should be aware that the University deals with adult concepts at work and in classes, and they should consider this when bringing a child/children onto University premises. It is the parent's or guardian's responsibility to remove the child if they have concerns.

(15) This policy and its procedures do not cover students who undertake work experience or placement at another organisation as part of their studies, e.g. nursing students undertaking clinical placement. Students should discuss these matters with the other organisation.

(16) Staff who do not comply with this policy and its procedures may be subject to disciplinary processes under the relevant staff agreement. Students who do not comply with this policy and its procedures may be subject to disciplinary processes under the Student Misconduct Rule.

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Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - Children of Students in Class

(17) This policy is intended to deal with occasional needs and permission should be requested on a class-by-class basis.

(18) Students must obtain permission from the relevant lecturer/tutor prior to bringing a child/children to each class. Lecturers/tutors will strive to be sympathetic to such requests and will reasonably consider the location and type of activity involved when determining their response. Where permission is granted but other students have concerns they should raise them with the lecturer/tutor, who may reconsider their decision.

(19) Subsequently, if the child/children cause disruption to the class the lecturer/tutor may request the child to be removed.

(20) Often the need to bring a child/children to class occurs at short notice and a lecturer/tutor may be asked for permission to do so only minutes before a class is scheduled. Alternatively, it may be difficult to contact a lecturer/tutor in order to seek permission before attending. Lecturers/tutors should still be sympathetic to these situations.

(21) Where the class involves a field trip, and the lecturer/tutor permits the child/children to attend, a risk assessment should also be completed and approved by the Dean. It may not be possible for a lecturer/tutor to give permission to a child/children to attend a field trip if the permission is sought at short notice because of the requirement to undertake a risk assessment.

(22) If permission is refused, and the student cannot attend the class, the lecturer/tutor should discuss, or make arrangements to discuss with the student an alternative method of receiving the information that the student may miss by not attending that day, e.g. referring the student to vUWS.

Part B - Children of Staff in the Workplace

(23) Employees must obtain permission from their supervisor prior to bringing a child/children into the workplace. Supervisors will strive to treat such requests sympathetically and reasonably, dependent upon the location and type of activity involved.

(24) If a supervisor does not permit a child/children to be brought to the workplace in accordance with this policy, then they should approve the taking of leave. Provisions within the Carer's Responsibilities in the Workplace Policy should also be considered.

(25) Whilst in the workplace children are not to use University facilities or equipment, such as computers, photocopiers and telephones. Where children of staff are also students studying at the University they are not able to be provided with access to facilities and resources provided to staff (e.g. computers, internet access, photocopying) but must utilise those facilities and resources dedicated for use by all students.

(26) Where permission is granted but other staff have concerns they should raise them with the supervisor, who may reconsider their decision.

Part C - Children Attending Other Activities

(27) Any approval granted under this part will be on the basis that any children on University premises must be adequately supervised during that time.

(28) Where, as part of an approved Open Day display or an interactive school-student activity, e.g. "Science in the Suburbs", it is proposed that children be in a laboratory or practicum room, or using equipment, a risk assessment must be undertaken by the organisers and approved by the Unit head prior to any children entering the area. The Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control Procedure and Risk Assessment and Control form are located on the Work Health and Safety Unit website. Where necessary, organisers should also confirm insurance coverage with the Accountant, Tax and Insurance.

(29) Children that are on University premises for research purposes must be so only in accordance with the Human Research Ethics Committee approval.

Part D - Breastfeeding Infants by Nursing Mothers

(30) The University will make reasonable efforts to provide suitable facilities for breastfeeding on each campus for nursing mothers who wish to use them. These facilities may be an alternative where, for reasons outlined in this policy, that it is not possible to breastfeed in a class or a workspace, e.g. the staff member or student is working in a laboratory. Office of Estate and Commercial and Student Welfare Service can advise the locations of available facilities.

Students

(31) Where a student wishes to use a facility for breastfeeding and there is no dedicated space on that campus, the student should contact Student Welfare Service in order to arrange a suitable space on a case-by-case basis.

(32) A student may wish to bring with them a support person (such as a spouse or partner) to care for the infant whilst they are not breastfeeding. In these cases permission should also be sought from the relevant Lecturer/Tutor for this other person to attend the class. Lecturers/Tutors should be sympathetic to such requests but can refuse permission for reasons in accordance with this policy.

(33) Where a student needs to breastfeed during a formal examination, they must notify the Assessment and Graduation Unit (exams_progression@westernsydney.edu.au) as soon as they are aware their formal examination will coincide with their child's breastfeeding routine. The Assessment and Graduation Unit will advise students on the process that deals with breastfeeding during formal examinations.

Staff

(34) Staff should discuss the matter with their supervisor who will allow the employee to take necessary nursing or lactating breaks. The supervisor will, in discussion with the employee, organise suitable facilities if required.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(35) For information, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 and the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Breastfeeding) Act 2007 provide the legislative basis for not discriminating against breastfeeding women.