School operations

Managing and Reporting School Incidents (Including Emergencies)


This policy describes the requirements for managing and reporting school incidents, including emergencies.


  • This policy and associated guidelines and procedures apply to incidents that impact students and/or school operations that are brought to the attention of the school regardless of when and where they occurred, provided they impact on the student or other students within the school environment, including camps and excursions.
  • Schools must manage and report incidents in accordance with the guidance and procedures described.


This policy (including associated guidelines and procedures on the Guidance tab) applies to incidents that occur during or outside school hours at the following locations:

  • at government schools
  • services delivered by school councils within the school environment including:
    • outside school hours care
    • kindergartens delivered by school councils on school premises
    • VET programs delivered as part of a government school program
  • during travel to and from school
  • online school environments
  • school camps, excursions, or outdoor adventure activities
  • any other location where there is subsequent impact on students or the school community.

An incident is an actual or alleged event or situation that:

  • causes harm or creates a risk of causing harm to a student’s health, safety or wellbeing either directly or indirectly while under the care or supervision of the school, including international students (for more information about reporting international student related critical incidents, please refer to: Critical incident flowchart (PDF)External Link (staff login required))
  • impacts a student and is brought to the attention of the school, regardless of when or where it occurred, provided it is impacting on the student or other students within the school environment
  • causes harm or creates a risk of causing harm to an employee’s health, safety or wellbeing either directly or indirectly in the work setting
  • affects or risks affecting the continuity of school operations, including matters of security (including cyber security), property damage and emergencies
  • requires police notification or involves matters of serious conduct
  • is a WorkSafe notifiable incident.

School management and reporting

Schools are required to manage incidents according to 6 stages of the department’s management and reporting incidents (including emergencies) process. The Guidance tab provides detailed guidelines and procedures on the 6 stages, which are:

  1. Identifying an incident and immediate response
  2. Reporting an incident (Report for Support)
  3. Ongoing support and recovery
  4. Investigation
  5. Incident review and closure
  6. Analyse and learn

Stage 1: Identifying an incident and immediate response

The immediate safety of students, staff and the education community is paramount. The following actions may be required:

  • provide first aid
  • contact emergency services on 000
  • enact the school’s (or site’s) emergency management plan
  • capture and preserve evidence (such as ‘notifiable incidents’ to WorkSafe or for criminal investigations)
  • contact nominated family or carers.

Stage 2: Reporting an incident (report for support)

Following the immediate response, the principal (or delegate) is responsible for assessing the severity of the incident, using the Severity rating decision-making matrix (PDF)External Link – refer to Guidance tab for detailed advice.

Incidents are rated as either:

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
  • Extreme.

Incidents assessed as Low or Medium can be reported directly into eduSafe PlusExternal Link (staff login required) by the principal (or delegate). The principal (or delegate) is to contact the Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) on 1800 126 126 to report 'High' or 'Extreme' severity incidents for support (report for support). ISOC provides immediate advice and connects schools to local or centralised services that can support response and recovery. ISOC will report incidents in eduSafe Plus on behalf of the school. This assessment indicates whether the incident is likely to reoccur. If so, then additional support can be sourced from relevant services to mitigate future risk. In addition, all identified hazards, minor injuries and near misses involving employees, volunteers, visitors, contractors and members of the public must be reported in eduSafe Plus. Refer to: OHS Management System Overview – eduSafe Plus.

Certain incidents require additional steps, including the following.

Stage 3: Ongoing support and recovery

The school principal (or delegate) is responsible for providing immediate relief support to impacted students, staff and the education community. Where necessary and appropriate, additional support will be provided by school support staff and corporate office staff based in regional and central offices. When an incident is reported to ISOC, ISOC staff will ask the principal (or delegate) whether they require additional support (including recovery support) during the call.

Stage 4: Investigation

Some incidents may trigger investigations under other department policies and legislative schemes (for example, privacy breaches should be reported in accordance with the Privacy and Information Sharing policy, mandatory reporting to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing). A preliminary investigation screening should be undertaken within 2 days of an incident being reported to the ISOC.

For WorkSafe notifiable incidents, the principal and/or their delegate are to conduct a formal incident investigation within 24 hours of the notifiable incident, where possible, using the Hazard and incident investigation template (DOCX)External Link or equivalent.

For the investigation, the principal and/or their delegate may decide to convene an incident investigation team, comprising school leadership staff, the school’s health and safety representative (HSR), affected employee and other employees, depending on the nature of the incident. The investigation should seek to identify the causes and any potential hazards, and provide recommended control and preventative measures.

Stage 5: Incident review and closure

This stage outlines the process and accountabilities for incident reviews and closure. Reviews are discretionary but provide a valuable learning opportunity. The incident severity rating informs the responsible authority for closing incidents, in consultation with the principal. Incidents are closed when current and/or future risk is eliminated, mitigated or accepted.

Stage 6: Analyse and learn

This stage provides an overview of the department’s data analysis framework for analysis of incident information. Incident data analysis includes monitoring, interrogating and acting on identified trends. Security and Emergency Management Division undertake regular data analysis and reporting.

Relevant legislation


To report an emergency or an incident of High or Extreme severity to the Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) call 1800 126 126. ISOC will arrange for an eduSafe Plus report to be made.

Note: 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. In these circumstances, principals can request additional support by contacting ISOC.

To report a notifiable incident to WorkSafe call 13 23 60 in accordance with this policy.

Principals (or delegates) can contact the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 or via email at for help with reporting or managing staff related incidents and hazards in eduSafe Plus, implementing the OHS Management System, conducting risk assessments and other OHS issues.

Principals (or delegates) can contact the IT Service Desk on 1800 641 943 or access the Service Portal to submit a general enquiryExternal Link , report IT faults and issuesExternal Link or for help with navigating the eduSafe Plus system. The IT Service Desk can also help you with technical difficulties, network issues and general IT advice.

For general queries or feedback in relation to this policy or guidance, contact the Policy and Intelligence Unit, Security and Emergency Management Division via email at or phone 03 7022 1280.

Department policy on the requirements for reporting and managing school incidents and hazards

Reviewed 25 February 2024

Policy last updated

23 August 2023


  • Schools


Security and Emergency Management Division There are multiple contacts for this topic. Refer to the contacts heading at the bottom of the page for details.

Was this page helpful?