Teachers Registration Board of the Northern Territory

Inquiries under the Act

The Teacher Registration Board of the Northern Territory (‘the Board’) was established under the provisions of the Teacher Registration (Northern Territory) Act (‘the Act’) in September 2004 to register persons as teachers and to facilitate the continuing competence of teachers in the Territory.

Teacher Registration (Northern Territory) Act

The objective of the Act is to ensure that only persons who are fit and proper, appropriately qualified and competent to teach, are employed as teachers in the Territory.

The Act provides that one of the functions of the Board is to deal with complaints about teachers, hold preliminary investigations and inquiries in relation to teachers and take disciplinary action under
Part 6 of the Act: (pdf 154 kb | rtf 3.5 mb) - please refer to (50) and (52) only.

The Act was amended on 1 September 2010. The transitional arrangements for the new Act provide that the following matters in relation to registered teachers (and persons authorised to teach) will be dealt with under Part 6 of the new Act:

  • written complaints received from parents, other teachers, members of the community, etc.;
  • any matters that the Board was aware of via other means (ie, not written complaints and formal notifications) prior to the commencement of the new Act but that the Board had not yet taken any action in relation to (ie, the Board had not yet determined to hold a preliminary investigation or an inquiry); and
  • any other new matters that the Board has become aware of since the new Act commenced.

Competence to teach – for registration

A person is eligible for registration if the Board is satisfied the person is competent to teach as decided in accordance with the Teacher Registration (Northern Territory) Regulations (‘the Regulations’).

Regulation 5(1) provides that the Board must take into account whether the person is able to teach in accordance with the Board’s approved Standards.

Competence to teach – for authorisation

The Board must be satisfied the unregistered person is competent to teach each subject specified in the application for authorisation, at the level specified in the application, as decided in accordance with the Regulations. Regulation 5(2) provides that the Board must take into account whether the person is able to teach the subject at the level specified in accordance with the Board’s approved Standards.

The “fit and proper” person test

Section 32 of the new Act provides for the matters the Board must take into account in deciding whether a person is a fit and proper person to teach. It includes the Board taking into account:

  • the person’s criminal history; and
  • any behaviour of the person that:
    • does not meet the standard of behaviour reasonably expected of a teacher; or
    • is not in accordance with the Board’s code of professional ethics; or
    • shows that the person is not of good character.

Frequently asked questions

1. How are complaints and other disciplinary matters brought to the attention of the Board?

Complaints and other disciplinary matters are received from a number of sources:

  • Written complaints received from parents, other teachers, members of the community, etc.;
  • Employers - under section 67A of the Act;
  • Teachers - under section 67B of the Act;
  • NT Police - under section 75(2) of the Act;
  • Notifications from other teacher registration authorities;
  • Declarations by teachers when applying for or renewing their registration.

2. What is the purpose of an inquiry?

The purpose of an inquiry is to investigate complaints of serious incompetence, serious misconduct or a complaint that calls into question the continued fitness to teach of a person who is or was a registered teacher or in relation to whom an authorisation is or was in effect.

Mandatory inquiries

Section 50(2) of the Act provides that the Board must hold an inquiry in relation to a teacher or authorised person if:

  • the teacher or authorised person has been found guilty of an indictable offence other than a sexual offence;
  • the teaching qualifications of the teacher or authorised person have been withdrawn;
  • a registration authority has suspended or cancelled the teacher’s registration as a teacher due to misconduct or incompetence or has disqualified the teacher from registration as a teacher; or
  • the teacher was registered on the basis of false or misleading information.

Section 50(3) of the Act provides that the Board must also hold an inquiry into:

  • a complaint about a teacher or authorised person and does not dismiss the complaint;
  • a matter that calls into question whether:
    • the teacher is eligible for registration in accordance with eligibility for full registration or eligibility for provisional registration (section 30 or 31); or
    • the authorised person is a fit and proper person to teach, or competent to teach, in accordance with the grant of authorisation (section 42).

Other inquiries

Section 50(4) of the Act provides that the Board may hold an inquiry in relation to a teacher or authorised person if:

  • a notification has been received from the employer;
  • the teacher or authorised person has been committed to trail for an indictable offence;
  • a notification has been received from the Commissioner for Police;
  • a notification has been received by a registration authority; or
  • the teacher has failed to comply with a condition imposed on the teacher’s registration, or the authorised person has failed to comply with a condition imposed on the authorisation relating to the authorised person.

3. Is an inquiry like a hearing and do need a lawyer?

Yes. An inquiry is a type of hearing but it is far more informal than a regular court; for example the rules of evidence which would normally apply do not apply in a Board inquiry. You may engage legal representation; bring an advocate or a union representative with you if you wish. However if you choose to represent yourself the Board will be mindful to keep the process as accessible as it can.

You will be asked to provide all relevant documents for consideration prior to the day of the inquiry. On the day of the inquiry you will be given an opportunity to provide a verbal submission if you wish.

4. The ‘public interest’ test

The Board may only hold an inquiry if it is reasonably satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so. If you no longer hold aspirations to teach in Australia/New Zealand please advise the Board as this may impact on its decision to proceed with an inquiry.

5. Who conducts the Board’s inquiries?

The Board appoints a committee to conduct the inquiry. The committee of inquiry must be comprised of:

  • a chairperson who is a legal practitioner who has practised as a legal practitioner in Australia for at least five years; and
  • two Board members.

6. Once the Board determines that an inquiry will be held, what is the next step?

The person who is the subject of the inquiry will be served with a notice of the proposed inquiry. The notice of inquiry will specify:

  • details of the basis of the inquiry;
  • the date, time and place of the inquiry;
  • the names of the members of the inquiry committee; and
  • a statement that the teacher or authorised person may, within 14 days after receiving the notice, give the inquiry committee a written statement about the basis of the inquiry.

7. I’m a teacher that is the subject of an inquiry and I’ve been issued with a notice of inquiry. Am I required by law to comply with it?

Yes. You must appear at the inquiry hearing (in person or by teleconference) and produce any documents required by the notice of inquiry.

8. Is there a penalty for failing to appear at the hearing or failing to produce documents?

Yes. It is an offence against the Act to not comply with the notice of inquiry. You may be subject to a penalty, being 20 penalty units (currently $2,880.00).

9. I’ve been asked to assist the Board in an inquiry. Am I required by law to provide information or give evidence to the inquiry?

Yes. The Act provides that a person who is in a position to assist an inquiry must provide to the Board any information that is reasonably requested. No civil or criminal proceedings lie against a person who provides information or gives evidence to the Board or a committee of inquiry in good faith about the conduct of the teacher who is the subject of an inquiry.

10. What happens once the information about a teacher is released to the Board for an inquiry?

The information will be provided to the teacher and the teacher will be provided with the opportunity to admit to, or refute, any of the information put forward by the other party.

11. What is the potential outcome of the inquiry?

The Board may decide to do any of the following to a teacher or authorised person as a result of an inquiry:

  • impose a condition on, or vary a condition imposed on the registration;
  • suspend the registration or authorisation for a specified period;
  • cancel the registration;
  • disqualify the teacher from registration, or authorised person from teaching for a specified period; or
  • take no further action.

12. What happens once the inquiry has been completed?

The committee of inquiry must report its findings and recommendations to the Board as soon as practicable. In making any decision in relation to the inquiry, the Board must take into consideration the findings and recommendations of the committee.

13. How am I informed about the Board’s decision?

The Director of the Board will write to you advising you of its decision once the committee of inquiry completes its report and the Board has had time to deliberate on its findings.

14. Can I appeal the Board’s decision if I do not agree with the decision?

Yes. Once you receive a notice of the decision you may appeal to the Local Court. You must lodge the appeal with the Local Court within 28 days of the date of the notice. Section 74B of the Act provides further information on appeals.

15. What should I do if I have other questions?

You may contact the Manager, Professional Conduct at the Teacher Registration Board toll free on 1800 110 302 or you can email your question to trb@nt.gov.au