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School operations

Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including emergencies)

Step 2 — Reporting an incident (Report for Support)

Following notification to 000 (if required), the principal or delegate must undertake an initial severity rating of the incident to determine the applicable reporting requirements.

Extreme (Red), High (Orange), Medium (Yellow) severity incidents must be reported to the Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) on 1800 126 126. Incidents rated as Low (Blue) do not need to reported to ISOC.  

Prompt incident notification enables ISOC staff to:

  • facilitate the provision of relevant place-based and central supports, including those to aid recovery
  • provide security related support and advice to schools which helps to resolve emergencies and incidents quickly while minimising the risk to personal safety

The ISOC will record the incident report using the Incident Report and Information System (IRIS), and a copy of the summary report will automatically be emailed to the school principal and to relevant areas in central office and the region for information and to action supports as required.

Note for incidents involving international students

In reporting an incident to the ISOC, the reporting school must identify whether the incident involves international students and (if known) whether the Department has accepted responsibility for ensuring appropriate accommodation and welfare arrangements. The International Education Division will be notified through the IRIS alert and will intervene as appropriate to support the school to ensure accommodation and welfare of the student, verify relevant visa requirements are met, and notify the Department of Home Affairs accordingly.

Depending on the nature of the incident, there may also be other reporting requirements, such as reporting on edusafe Plus, reporting Notifiable Incidents to WorkSafe, and reporting to DHHS Child Protection.

Reporting to the ISOC on 1800 126 126

Principals must use their professional judgement to undertake an initial severity rating of the incident, rating the incident as either:

  • Extreme (Red)
  • High (Orange)
  • Medium (Yellow) or
  • Low (Blue)

severity, based on impact on student or staff health, safety and wellbeing or on continuity of school operations.

The severity rating determines the required reporting process.

  • All Extreme (Red), High (Orange), Medium (Yellow) incidents must be reported to the ISOC by calling 1800 126 126.
    • ISOC staff can assist the principal or delegate to determine the appropriate severity rating if required.
    • On receipt of a report, ISOC will lodge the incident as an IRIS alert, for coordination of Area-based support to the school.
  • Low (Blue) incidents must be recorded by the school in CASES21 (or equivalent) but do not need to be reported to ISOC.

Rating an incident and corresponding reporting requirements

The following information outlines how schools should rate incidents and the corresponding reporting requirements, based on the severity rating.

The Severity rating Decision making matrix (PDF) guides the severity rating of incidents and the reporting requirements at each level.

Schools should also refer to the Overview of the Four SIMS Incident Severity Ratings Table (PDF), which describes each of the four ratings, and outlines the corresponding reporting timelines required for schools, and the Department's response time following receipt of a report.

The four severity ratings and corresponding reporting requirements are:

  • Extreme – requires immediate reporting to ISOC (within the hour)
  • High – requires reporting to ISOC as soon as possible (within 3 hours)
  • Medium – requires reporting to ISOC as soon as possible (within 1 working day)
  • Low – must be recorded on CASES21 (or equivalent) but may be managed and governed locally

Note: Principals should carefully consider the local context when assessing the severity rating, such as incident pattern or history, and student characteristics. These could include a student’s possible vulnerability (such as age, culture, gender, history of trauma, physical/mental capacity, balance of power between involved parties and relevant medical history).

While the principal is responsible for undertaking the initial incident severity rating, an incident severity rating should be updated by the responsible person to reflect any new material facts that come to light. The responsible person will be the DET staff member leading the incident response, which will either be the principal, or a person from regional or central office, depending on the severity rating.

Incidents automatically rated as Extreme

Certain incidents should automatically be rated as Extreme. These incidents are:

  • the actual, near miss or credible threats of death or permanent disability of students, or staff, that occur in the school environment
  • the following acts, or allegation of the following acts, on a student, that occur in the school environment
    • a sexual offence or groom for sexual conduct with a child under 16 years of age
    • the infliction of a serious physical violence or serious emotional of psychological harm; or
    • serious neglect of a child
  • the complete cessation of school operations
  • employee misconduct that impacts a student

Note: any incident involving child abuse, including allegations, that does not occur in the school environment should be rated by the Principal using the Severity rating Decision making matrix.

Note: School environment means any physical or virtual place made available or authorised by the school or school council for use by a student during or outside school hours including a campus of the school, online school environment and other locations provided for a student’s use (such as school camps, sporting events, excursions etc.)

Examples of incidents that are reportable to the ISOC

Examples of incidents that impact or risk impacting on the health, safety and wellbeing of students or staff:

  • death or suicide of a student, staff member or member of the school community
  • self-harm/injury or threats of suicide
  • injuries requiring treatment by a doctor, transport by ambulance or hospitalisation
  • concerning mental health and traumatic incidents requiring peer, professional or clinical support
  • incidents that did not lead to injury or death but very nearly did
  • abuse or risk of abuse or neglect including online child abuse (mandatory reporting obligations may also apply — refer to the Department’s PROTECT program
  • missing student
  • incidents involving the use of seclusion or physical restraint of a student, refer to Restraint and Seclusion Policy
  • online bullying, inappropriate use of social media and/or mobile phones

Examples of incidents that impact on the continuity of school operations, including property damage and emergencies:

  • damage to parts of a school building or its content
  • loss of essential service
  • emergency and warnings
  • bomb threats

Examples of incidents that involve matters of serious conduct:

  • alleged criminal activity
  • aggressive and anti-social behaviour or actions
  • forced marriage or human rights abuse
  • family violence
  • human trafficking
  • sexual exploitation
  • suspicious activity within or near school environment

Incidents not reportable to ISOC

The following incidents are not reportable:

  • an insignificant impact or risk of impact on student health, safety and wellbeing, such as a grazed knee. These incidents should be managed locally and recorded in CASES21 or equivalent
  • where school operations continue with slight interruptions, such as a 10-minute power outage

Reporting on eduSafe Plus

The eduSafe Plus reporting system (staff login required) is the Department’s hazard, incident and injury reporting system for incidents that have, or could have resulted in injury to staff, visitors or contractors.

All Department employees are responsible for reporting hazards, workplace incidents and near misses as soon as practicable through eduSafe Plus. Refer to the Guidance tab of Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing Policy, for a definition of ‘hazard’, ‘workplace incident’ and ‘near miss’.

Principals and/or their delegates must ensure the eduSafe Plus poster is placed on the school’s OHS Noticeboards. 

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure all identified hazards and incidents involving employees, volunteers, visitors, contractors and members of the public are reported onto eduSafe Plus. This includes employee or volunteer related incidents that occur both on and off the Department premises. Minor hazards (for example torn carpet) do not need to be reported on eduSafe Plus, provided that they are recorded in an alternative manner, for example in a school or local maintenance log book.

Contractors, volunteers and visitors should as soon as practicable report hazards, incidents or near misses to their site contact – being the school principal, business manager or Health and Safety Representative - who should then enter the incident or hazard onto eduSafe Plus. Contractors, volunteers and visitors should be encouraged to document the incident or hazard by using the eduSafe Plus Incident Notification Template or eduSafe Plus Hazard Notification Template.

Actioning and closing out reports on eduSafe Plus

The Principal or their delegate, in consultation with the affected person(s), are to close out the eduSafe Plus report by developing and implementing an ‘action plan’ (available within eduSafe Plus) to address the hazard or incident in order to manage the risk and to prevent a reoccurrence.

Consultation with employees following eduSafe Plus report

Consultation is a legislative obligation under the OHS Act and Department policies and procedures support this by prescribing processes to be followed to respond to eduSafe Plus reports and to resolve issues.

The Principal (or delegate) must consult with the school’s Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) on how risks are to be controlled following the lodgment of eduSafe Plus reports. Consultation can take many forms but it is important that agreement be reached with HSRs on how consultation will be undertaken. HSRs should be consulted as soon as practicable for any serious injury or incident that involved immediate risk.

When consulting with HSRs it is important to note that the OHS Act (Section 69(2)) states an employer must not allow a health and safety representative to have access to any medical information concerning an employee without the employee’s consent unless the information is in a form that does not identify the employee; or from which the employee’s identity cannot reasonably be ascertained.

Refer to OHS Consultation and Communication for more information.

WorkSafe notifiable incidents

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) requires notification to WorkSafe of serious workplace incidents, referred to as ‘Notifiable Incidents’. Refer to the Guidance tab of the Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing policy for a definition of ‘Notifiable Incident’.

The Principal or their delegate must contact WorkSafe on telephone 132 360 to report notifiable incidents immediately after becoming aware that an incident has occurred and to provide WorkSafe with a written report within 48 hours. WorkSafe Victoria will provide a reference number on notification and will advise whether the incident site is to be isolated/preserved until an inspector arrives. More information is available in the Department's WorkSafe Inspector Visit Guidelines.

The OHS Act also requires preservation of the incident site until an inspector arrives or issues a direction, except where there is an immediate need to protect the health and safety of persons, provide first aid to any injured persons or to take essential action to make the site safe subject to some exceptions.

The following minimum protocol should be adhered to in order to protect the Notifiable Incident scene:

  • establish a perimeter to protect the scene e.g. temporary barriers
  • evacuate non-involved persons
  • prevent unauthorised persons from entering the perimeter or contaminating any evidence
  • prevent any damage or further damage

For further directions on incident site preservation speak to the WorkSafe Inspector when the call is reported to WorkSafe.

Refer to Notifiable Incidents to WorkSafe Flowchart and WorkSafe Inspector Visit Guidelines for more information.

Chapter in the Guidelines and Procedures for Reporting and Managing School Incidents on reporting requirements following an incident

Reviewed 11 October 2021

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