Legal Office Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I ask for more detailed medical documentation if a student provides a letter of support from Support Services, recommending academic adjustment? 

A: Not really. Disclosure of medical information is sometimes quite a sensitive issue and students may choose to limit who they discuss their circumstances with. The available medical documentation may also include other sensitive personal information that is not relevant to the particular 'adjustment' (i.e. extension or additional exam time) being requested. 

The University's Disability and Equity team and the Support Services team each have experience and skills in assessing medical documentation and conditions, may have a more detailed knowledge of the student's medical condition or disability(s) and have strict guidelines for making recommendations for academic adjustments. It is appropriate to rely on the knowledge and expertise of these specialist services in making decisions about whether to make academic adjustments.

If you would like to clarify some points with the person recommending the adjustment (i.e. Support Services or other party), ask for the student's written consent to contact the person concerned before making the final decision. It is likely that the person recommending the adjustment will require a copy of the consent, before they discuss this issue with you.

Q: One of my students is being disruptive in tutorials/lectures. Can I discuss this matter with a colleague?

A: You may discuss a student's disruptive behaviour with other colleagues (who may or may not teach the particular student) for the purpose of formulating a course of action to deal with the student's behaviour. This may involve the disclosure of the student's identity and information in order to adequately address the situation. Such disclosure should be exercised with discretion and in a professional manner, directly related to the resolution of the disruptive situation, preferably also involving your Head of School, Director or member of the Executive.

It is also important to remember that a student's disruptive behaviour may be associated with a disability or mental illness. Whilst disability or illness does not excuse disruptive behaviour or make it acceptable, it may provide some understanding of potential causes and influence the strategies used to address the behaviour as well which support services it may be appropriate to involve. If you think that a student's disruptive or concerning behaviour may be caused by illness or a disability, you may wish to approach the Head of Counselling and Disability Support Services.

Q: Can I share information about a student with their parent, partner or other family member?

A: No. The University must not disclose a student's personal information (this includes things like course marks and attendance) to any person, without the prior consent of the student.

The best course is to explain to the person requesting the information that you could speak with them if you had the consent of the student (preferably provided in writing).

There are limited exceptions to this rule. Disclosure is permitted:

  • Where you believe, on reasonable grounds, that disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to prevent or lessen a threat of death or injury to the student or someone else; or
  • If the University is required to disclose the information by law.

If you believe one of the above exceptions applies, you should consult the Privacy Officer on (02) 6620 3072 or by emailing privacy@scu.edu.au.

Q: Can I provide a staff member of student's personal information to a third party (eg, bank, prospective employer etc)?

A: You must have the consent of the student or staff member concerned before you can disclose their personal information to any person (i.e. bank, debt collector). Written consent of the student or staff member is recommended before making this type of disclosure.

Q: I think there is a serious risk and/or imminent threat to health or life of one of my students. Can I disclose this information?

A: Yes. Where you consider there is a serious and imminent risk to the life or health of a student you should refer the matter to your Head of School, Director or member of the Executive. However, if you believe there is no time to do so, seek the immediate advice of the Head of the Counselling Services or SCU Security - or call the Police or Ambulance Service on 000 - to ensure that your concerns are acted upon quickly and appropriately.

Q: Do I need legal advice

A: If you:
  • Receive any agreement from a third party which requires a signature on behalf of the University or by yourself as an agent for the University;
  • You need for the Legal Office to prepare a Non-Standard Agreement for you; or
  • You require advice/assistance interpreting or applying legislation or an existing arrangement

you need to complete the Legal Request Form attaching the document you need reviewed or instructions about the arrangement you would like the contract to reflect. See the Review of Non Standard Agreements and Other Legal Assistance section for further information.

If you need a Standard Agreement prepared, please contact one of the contract facilitators listed at the Standard Agreements page. If the body of a Standard Agreement is not changed, then you do not require a legal review prior to arranging execution of a Standard Agreement. However, if an arrangement is high risk or value, you may still wish to obtain it.

Q: Is there a charge for SCU Legal Office advice or assistance?

A: No.

Q: What are the University's legal entity details?

A: Southern Cross University is a statutory corporation established by the Southern Cross University Act 1993 (NSW). You can obtain a copy of the Southern Cross University Act from the NSW Legislation webpage. 

The University should be described in any contract to which it is a party as:

SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY ABN 41 995 651 524 a statutory corporation established by the Southern Cross University Act 1993 (NSW)

The University's Australian Business Number (or ABN) is 41 995 651 524.

Q: Who has power to sign documents on behalf of the University?

A: Only those University officers with specific delegations from Council may sign documents on behalf of the University. Please refer to the University's Delegations Register. If you are still unsure as to who has authority to sign a document on behalf of the University, please contact us for assistance. If the document requires the Vice Chancellor's signature or the application of the University Seal, please forward it to the SCU Legal Office along with an accompanying memorandum and we will arrange for the document to be executed or sealed.

Q: I have received a subpoena to appear as a witness in legal proceedings or to produce documents. What should I do?

A: A subpoena is an order of a court or tribunal and must be complied with unless there is a good reason to object to it. The University does receive subpoenas (usually subpoenas to produce documents) from time to time. If you receive a subpoena, please contact our office immediately for assistance.

If you receive a query from an outside party (such as a solicitor) about serving a subpoena, please direct them to the Subpoenas, Summonses and Notices section of the website or ask them to contact us directly on (02) 6620 3465 or at legal@scu.edu.au.

Q: I have received a summons to appear for jury service. What should I do?

A: University staff from time to time will receive a notice to present themselves for jury service. This is a personal obligation of staff and it is not possible for us to advise staff about their obligations or to assist them if they feel they are unable to perform jury service for any reason. If you receive a notice for jury service, you should discuss it with your supervisor and follow the University's Jury Service Leave Procedures.