DUTY OF CARE What you thought you knew!

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This is the section you should prepare to be challenged on everything you assumed.

What You Probably Thought: If the school plans and books the formal into a popular venue, every student attending the event comes under the school’s duty of care. The school is wholly responsible for the safety and security of each attendee travelling to and from the formal and for every moment during the event. Under this duty of care, school staff members need to attend and assume responsibility for the movements and behaviour of the guests, keep a register of who attends and when they arrive, and ultimately make all judgement calls about who can come and go, what they bring with them and how they conduct themselves while on site.

WRONG! Which part? ALL OF IT!

A School’s Duty of Care only applies to students when in either of two cases –

1/ On school premises or

2/ Outside when on a curriculum-based excursion with parental permission granted.

School formals on third-party premises are exempt from both of these conditions so the school has no “Duty of Care” at all. This is different from “Liability Exposure”.

Under the circumstances within which most school formals take place, school staff are actually forbidden (legally) from conducting any form of security or control over the behaviour of attendees at formals (outside the school premises). Those duties rest with the operators of the event and the venue.

“Doesn’t the school have to have staff present at all formals?”

No. In fact it’s not a requirement under the law at all. The venue and organisers are providing ample legal supervision to cover state requirements. School representatives don’t need to attend at all. If school staff do attend the formal, they are considered to be, for all intents and purposes, no different to any other ticket-holding guest. They have no higher station, no greater rights, no exemption to rules or laws, are subject to direction by security & venue staff and hold no special privilege. On the positive side, they likewise also attract no responsibility and no expectation.