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School operations

Personal Liability of School Employees

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to confirm that Departmental employees in schools (including teaching service and public service employees), volunteer school and student workers, and school council employees will usually be indemnified in relation to legal claims made about and against them by or on behalf of students (or others) for alleged negligence.

Details

The Department will usually indemnify departmental employees in schools (including teaching service and public service employees), volunteer school and student workers, and school council employees in legal proceedings brought by students or others for personal injuries in claims of common law negligence. 

It is only in the most exceptional circumstances that the Department will not indemnify those persons. For example, when the person was:

  • drunk or under the influence of illicit drugs
  • engaging in an alleged criminal offence
  • engaging in behaviour that could only be described as outrageous
  • engaging in behaviour that was entirely unrelated to their employment.

Legal proceedings concerning personal injuries are usually brought against the responsible authority — for instance, the State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training) rather than an individual teacher or staff member. In the unlikely event that a teacher is named as a defendant in a claim, the cost of legal representation and amounts to be paid as damages as part of those legal proceedings will generally be paid by the Department.

If a student or other person alleges that a personal injury was caused by the state of the school premises  — for example, that a broken arm from a monkey-bar-fall could have been prevented by deeper tanbark, the legal proceedings are typically brought against the 'occupier' of the school. Any legal proceedings which concern occupiers’ liability are brought against the State of Victoria rather than against an individual staff member.

Definitions

Occupier
Refers to the party who controls the premises and/or the party in physical occupation of the premises and/or any other party who may have control over access to the premises — for example, a building contractor. There can be more than one occupier of a premises at any given time.

Department policy outlining the indemnification arrangements for school staff in relation to legal claims made about or against them

Reviewed 22 February 2021

Policy last updated

16 March 2020

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils
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