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School operations

Anaphylaxis

11  Communication plan

Clause 11 of Ministerial Order 706 requires a school to have a communication plan as part of its school anaphylaxis management policy.

The principal of a school is responsible for ensuring that a communication plan is developed to provide information to all school staff, students and parents about anaphylaxis and the school's anaphylaxis management policy.

The communication plan must include strategies for advising school staff, students and parents about how to respond to an anaphylactic reaction of a student in various environments including:

  • during normal school activities including in the classroom, in the school yard, in all school buildings and sites including gymnasiums and halls
  • during off-site or out of school activities, including on excursions, school camps and at special events conducted, organised or attended by the school.

The communication plan must include procedures to inform volunteers and casual relief staff of students who are at risk of anaphylaxis and of their role in responding to an anaphylactic reaction experienced by a student in their care.

It is the responsibility of the principal of a school to ensure that the school staff are:

  • adequately trained:
    • by completing the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy e-training every 2 years and 2 staff per school or campus also completing 22579VIC every 3 years OR 
    • by completing the 22578VIC or 110710NAT course every 3 years
  • briefed at least twice per calendar year through an in-house school briefing

in accordance with the Ministerial Order (refer to Chapter 5).

Raising staff awareness

The communication plan must include arrangements for relevant school staff to be briefed at least twice per year by a staff member who has current anaphylaxis management training (see Chapter 5 for further detail). However, it is best practice for a school to brief all school staff on a regular basis regarding anaphylaxis and the school’s anaphylaxis management policy.

In addition, it is recommended that school anaphylaxis supervisor(s) or other designated staff member(s) be responsible for briefing all volunteers and casual relief staff, and new school staff (including administration and office staff, canteen staff, sessional teachers, and specialist teachers) on the above information and their role in responding to an anaphylactic reaction experienced by a student in their care.

Raising student awareness

Peer support is an important element of support for students at risk of anaphylaxis.

School staff can raise awareness in their school through fact sheets or posters displayed in hallways, canteens and classrooms. Class teachers can discuss the topic with students in class, with a few simple key messages such as the following:

Student messages about anaphylaxis

  1. Always take food allergies seriously — severe allergies are no joke.
  2. Don't share your food with friends who have food allergies.
  3. Wash your hands after eating.
  4. Know what your friends are allergic to.
  5. If a school friend becomes sick, get help immediately even if the friend does not want you to.
  6. Be respectful of a school friend's adrenaline autoinjector.
  7. Don't pressure your friends to eat food that they are allergic to.

Source: Be a MATE kit, published by Anaphylaxis & Allergy Australia.

It is important to be aware that a student at risk of anaphylaxis may not want to be singled out or be seen to be treated differently. Also be aware that bullying of students at risk of anaphylaxis can occur in the form of teasing, tricking a student into eating a particular food or threatening a student with the substance that they are allergic to, such as peanuts. This is not acceptable behaviour and should not be tolerated. Talk to the students involved so they are aware of the seriousness of an anaphylactic reaction. Any attempt to harm a student diagnosed at risk of anaphylaxis must be treated as a serious and dangerous incident and dealt with in line with the school’s anti-bullying policy.

Schools can refer to the Bully Stoppers website, an anti-bullying resource for ideas and strategies for dealing with bullying situations.

Work with parents

Schools should be aware that parents of a child who is at risk of anaphylaxis may experience considerable anxiety about sending their child to school. It is important to develop an open and cooperative relationship with them so that they can feel confident that appropriate management strategies are in place at school.

Aside from implementing practical risk minimisation strategies in schools, the anxiety that parents and students may feel can be considerably reduced by regular communication and increased education, awareness and support from the school community.

Raising school community awareness

Schools are encouraged to raise awareness about anaphylaxis in the school community so that there is an increased understanding of the condition. This can be done by providing information in the school newsletter, on the school website, at assemblies or parent information sessions.

Parent information sheets that promote greater awareness of severe allergies can be downloaded from the Royal Children’s Hospital website.

Organisations providing information and resources

  • Royal Children's Hospital Anaphylaxis Advisory Line provides advice and support on implementing anaphylaxis legislation to schools, early childhood education and care services and Victorian children's services. The Anaphylaxis Advisory Line is available between the hours of 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Phone 1300 725 911 (toll free) or 03 9345 4235. Further information is available at Anaphylaxis Support Advisory Line.
  • Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) is the peak medical body for allergy and immunology. ASCIA provides information about allergies for health professionals, schools and the broader community. ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training provides ready access to anaphylaxis management education throughout Australia and New Zealand, at no charge. All staff at all Victorian schools are strongly encouraged to complete the ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for Victorian schools. Further information is available at ASCIA.
  • Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia is a national non-profit organisation that raises awareness of allergy and anaphylaxis in the Australian community. A range of items including children’s books and training resources are available from the online store on the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia website. A free online curriculum resource is also available. Further information is available at the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia website.
  • Royal Children's Hospital, Department of Allergy and Immunology provide information about allergies and the services provided by the hospital. Further information is available at the Royal Children's Hospital website.
  • EpiClub provides a wide range of resources and information for managing the use and storage of the adrenaline autoinjector device Epipen®. They also provide a free service that sends a reminder by email, SMS or standard mail prior to the expiry date of an EpiPen®. Further information is available at the EpiClub website.
Chapter 11 of the Anaphylaxis Guidelines outlining requirements of a communication plan for anaphylaxis

Reviewed 01 October 2021

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