Teachers Registration Board of the Northern Territory

Preliminary investigations

written complaints received from parents, other teachers, members of the community, etc.; 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).

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.

Complaints and other disciplinary matters

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.

The Board’s investigation options

The Board may hold:

  • a preliminary investigation; or
  • an inquiry; or
  • a preliminary investigation followed by an inquiry.

Section 50 of the Act provides the basis for the Board holding a preliminary investigation or inquiry.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the purpose of a preliminary investigation?

The purpose of a preliminary investigation in relation to a teacher (or a person authorised by the Board to teach) is to assist the Board to decide whether or not the Board should do any of the following:

  • take further action under the Act in relation to the teacher or authorised person without first holding an inquiry;
  • hold an inquiry in relation to the teacher or authorised person.

2. Who may conduct a preliminary investigation for the Board?

If the Board decides to hold a preliminary investigation, it must appoint an investigator to conduct the investigation, being:

  • the Director of the Board; or
  • an investigation panel comprised of:
    • 2 or 3 Board members; or
    • the Director and one or 2 Board members.

3. What is the role of the investigator?

The role of the investigator is to investigate the matter and then recommend to the Board either that:

  • the Board take no further action; or
  • the Board take specified further action without first holding an inquiry; or
  • an inquiry should be held into the matter.

4. Once the Board decides to hold a preliminary investigation, can the Board be asked to hold an inquiry into the matter instead?

Yes. At any stage before the investigation is completed, the teacher or authorised person may request, or the investigator may decide to recommend to the Board, that the Board hold an inquiry. The Board may decide to hold an inquiry.

5. I have been given written notice that I am to be investigated. Am I obliged to respond?

Section 56 of the Act provides that the Board must give written notice of the preliminary investigation to the teacher or authorised person to whom the investigation relates. You may, if you wish, take advantage of the opportunity to give the investigator a written statement within 14 days, or you may prefer to wait until the evidence compiled by the investigator is provided to you for your response.

6. Am I or is my employer required by law to give information to the investigator as part of my preliminary investigation?

Yes. Section 57 of the Act provides that the investigator may, by written notice, require a person to give information to the investigator. This may include you, your employer, the NT Police, or any other person identified by the investigator as holding information relevant to the investigation. A penalty applies under the Act for failing to comply with a direction in the notice to give information. Section 76A of the Act provides protection from liability for a person who, acting in good faith, gives information under the Act to the investigator.

7. What happens once relevant information about me is given to the investigator?

The usual practice is that the investigator will provide the information to you and you will be asked to respond (ie, you will be provided with the opportunity to admit to, or refute, any of the information put forward by the employer or any other party). If necessary, you will be asked to provide statements in support of your case.

8. What happens once the preliminary investigation has been completed?

The investigator will prepare a report for the Board with a recommendation. On receipt of the recommendation the Board will make a decision and then will advise you of that decision.

9. Is the Board bound by the recommendation of the investigator?

No. The Board is not bound by the recommendation of the investigator, but must take it into account in making a decision under section 58 of the Act.