School operations

Managing and Reporting School Incidents (Including Emergencies)

Stage 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.

Rating an incident and corresponding reporting requirements

Principals must use their professional judgement to undertake an initial severity rating of the incident based on impact on student or staff health, safety and wellbeing or on continuity of school operations. Includes should be rated as either:

  • Extreme
  • High
  • Medium
  • Low.

The severity rating guides reporting requirements, governance arrangements, and guides the level of additional support provided.

Refer to the Severity rating decision-making matrix (PDF)External Link for guidance on severity rating of incidents.

Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) staff can assist the principal or delegate to determine the appropriate severity rating if required. While the severity rating influences the support provided, the principal can request additional support during the ISOC call regardless of the rating. This acknowledges that multiple lower order incidents may necessitate support to manage the cumulative impact of incidents on the health and wellbeing of students, staff and the education community.

Note: Principals must 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).

As an incident is managed, the circumstances may change, resulting in a need to re-rate the severity of incident. While the principal is responsible for undertaking the initial incident severity rating, an incident severity rating must 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 for which an 'Extreme' severity rating should be considered include:

  • the death or permanent disability of current student or staff that occur in the school environment
  • incidents that occur in the school environment that involve:
    • a sexual offence or grooming for sexual conduct with a child under 16 years of age (offences under the Crimes Act 1958)
    • the infliction of serious physical violence, serious psychological harm
    • serious neglect of a child
  • serious misconduct of school staff that occurs in the school environment and impacts a current student
  • an incident that might necessitate the temporary closure of a school.

Note: Any incident involving child abuse, including allegations, that does not occur in the school environment must also be rated by the principal using the Severity rating decision-making matrix (PDF)External Link .

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 and so on).

Reporting the incident

When it is safe to do so, the principal or delegate must report the incident.

The reporting requirements and timelines for the 4 severity ratings are as follows:

  • 'Extreme' requires the school to report immediately to ISOCExternal Link (staff login required) by calling 1800 126 126 (within an hour)
  • 'High' requires the school to report to ISOC as soon as possible (within 3 hours)
  • 'Medium' requires the school to report in eduSafe PlusExternal Link (staff login required) as soon as possible (within 1 working day)
  • 'Low' requires the school to report in eduSafe Plus (within 3 working days).

On receipt of a report for an incident rated 'High' and 'Extreme', ISOC will lodge the eduSafe Plus report, for coordination of area-based support to the school.

Prompt notification of incidents rated 'High' and 'Extreme' 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.

Depending on the nature of the incident, there may also be other reporting requirements. ISOC staff can provide the principal (or delegate) with advice on which obligations apply. Other reporting obligations may arise due to changes in legislation or expectations, so the following list should not be considered exhaustive. The principal (or delegate) must report the following to other agencies:

Incidents involving international students

In reporting an incident of any severity, the 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 eduSafe Plus 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.

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 completed incident notification form 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 (DOCX)External Link .

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 protocols should be adhered to in order to protect the notifiable incident scene:

  • Establish a perimeter to protect the scene, for example, 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 (PDF)External Link and WorkSafe Inspector Visit Guidelines (DOCX)External Link for more information.

Examples of High and Extreme severity rating incidents that are reportable to 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 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 Protecting Children – Reporting and Other Legal Obligations
  • Missing student
  • Incidents involving the use of seclusion or physical restraint of a student, refer to Restraint and Seclusion
  • 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/s
  • Emergencies 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
  • Cyber security – attack/hacking of school system
  • Significant privacy breach
  • Suspicious activity within or near school environment

Examples of Low and Medium severity incidents that are not reportable to ISOC

The following incidents are not reportable:

  • incidents that have 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 eduSafe Plus
  • incidents where school operations continue with slight interruptions, such as a 10-minute power outage.
Chapter in the Guidelines and Procedures for Reporting and Managing School Incidents on reporting requirements following an incident

Reviewed 20 June 2022

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