The Disciplinary Tribunal (Tribunal) is a quasi-judicial body that considers matters referred to it by the Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) of the Teaching Council.
Tribunal hearings are formal procedures and conducted in a manner very similar to a court. They are conducted by members of the Tribunal, one of whom is the chairperson. Hearings of a Tribunal panel may also be conducted, in which case only three members are required. The CAC is the prosecuting body and is usually represented by a lawyer.
The teacher can represent him or herself, or may have a lawyer or representative present his or her case. Hearings are held in public, unless an order for hearing to be held in private is granted. Read the Practice Note regarding public hearings
Any evidence the Tribunal considers would help it consider the matter can be received. Evidence may be received from witnesses, either verbally or in writing, or may be provided in the form of any relevant documents, records, objects or other ways.
Disciplinary Tribunal processes
Initial actions and pre-hearing conference
The Disciplinary Tribunal process starts when the CAC sends a notice of charge to the Teaching Council, for misconduct or serious misconduct or notice of referral, for convictions. The notice of charge or notice of referral is also sent by the CAC to the teacher concerned, the initiator of the complaint or mandatory report, and the teacher's current employer.
When the Tribunal receives a notice of charge or referral, the Tribunal Coordinator will liaise with both parties and the Chairperson to arrange a pre-hearing conference (PHC). The PHC is often conducted by phone conference and is attended by both parties or their representatives, the Chairperson, and the Tribunal Coordinator.
The Chair sets the hearing date and a timeline for filing submissions and evidence with the Tribunal. The Chairperson will then make a written order detailing the hearing date and timeline.
The Tribunal Coordinator formally notifies the teacher or teacher's representative about the timeline for filing submissions and evidence with the Tribunal. The teacher or teacher's representative is notified of the names of the panel members. Any objections to panel members can be made within five days of receiving the letter.
What happens at hearings
If agreed by both parties, the Tribunal may make a decision on the papers. This means the parties don’t appear before the Tribunal and a decision is made after reading the submissions and evidence.
Hearings taking place in person before the Tribunal, are open to news media and the general public, unless an order has been made by the Chairperson the hearing will be private.
The representative for the CAC begins the hearing by making an opening statement and asking their witnesses to give evidence.
The witness can be cross-examined by the teacher's representative, the teacher, and Tribunal members. The CAC’s representative is also able to ask questions arising from the cross-examination of the teacher.
After the CAC has presented its case, the teacher or the teacher's representative makes an opening statement. The teacher may be sworn in and present his or her evidence.
The representative for the CAC can cross-examine the teacher and Tribunal members may ask questions. Any witnesses for the teacher will then be asked to give their evidence. They may be asked questions by the CAC’s representative and Tribunal members.
Both parties are given an opportunity to make closing statements. Hearings are recorded for the Tribunal. Transcripts are only available to the parties if the decision of the Tribunal is appealed. Statements of evidence, affidavits and other documentation must be provided to the Tribunal in advance.
Decision and publication
The Tribunal makes a decision, which is sent to the parties and their representatives, the teacher’s current employer, and the initiator. Tribunal decisions are published on this website. Identifying details of the teacher are supplied unless a suppression order is made during the hearing. Suppression orders may apply to also cover names and identifying details of witnesses.
Tribunal hearing decisions can be appealed to the District Court within 28 days of receiving the decision letter, or a longer period if the court allows.
The Tribunal may do any of the things that the CAC can do, and may also:
- suspend the teacher’s practising certificate or authorisation for a specified period or until specified conditions are met
- annotate the Teachers Register, or
- order that the teacher’s registration or authorisation be cancelled.
As long as the teacher hasn’t been referred to the Tribunal on the basis of a conviction, the Tribunal may also:
- impose a fine on the teacher of up to $3000
- require any party to the hearing to pay costs to any other party, or
- require any party to pay a sum to the Council to cover the costs of conducting the hearing.
In the Disciplinary Tribunal, the teacher may represent him or herself or have a lawyer or representative