education.vic.gov.au

School operations

School Community Safety Orders

Minimising impacts on students

Students should continue to be able to access their education and attend their school even if their parent cannot directly engage with the school community because of a school community safety order (order). Students of parents who have been issued an order should not be punished, treated differently or barred from participating in school activities.

An authorised person must prepare a communication and access protocol to minimise the impact of an order on a child’s education and ability to access school. Refer to Procedures for issuing orders for more information.

Guidance for outreach to students

The authorised person and/or principal should identify a staff member who has an existing relationship with the student whose parent has been issued with an order. This person should monitor the student’s behaviour and attendance for any signs of deteriorating mental health and provide support in a discrete manner.

In certain cases, a parent may not wish to disclose the existence of an order to their child. Authorised persons should consider whether they should first seek permission from the parent who has been the subject of an order to contact the child directly to offer information or support.

A parent refusing to allow the school to provide direct support to their child does not prevent the school from providing mental health and wellbeing support if they identify signs of deteriorating mental health. In such circumstances, the school must provide support to meet its duty of care to students and engage a staff member with a pre-existing relationship with the student to provide support to them in a discrete manner. Refer to Duty of Care for more information.

School access

An authorised person must prepare a communication and access protocol to minimise the impact of an order on parents’ involvement in their child’s education as well as on the child’s ability to access school (refer to Procedures for issuing orders). In some cases, however, the ability of a parent to drop off and collect their child from school may be limited by an order.

The following supports and subsidies may assist the student to travel to and from the school in such circumstances:

Providing mental health and wellbeing support to students whose parents are subject to an order

Schools should ensure that adequate mental health and wellbeing support are considered and in place for the student, such as the following:

Information for schools, students and parents on supporting student mental health and wellbeing can be found in the Mental Health ToolkitExternal Link .

In order to support the student whose parent is subject to an order, school staff who are not directly impacted by an order may need to know about the existence and content of an order. Authorised persons should first consider the existing relationship between the staff member and the student and whether the knowledge would adversely impact their relationship before disclosing the contents of an order to them.

Providing information about orders to students affected by an order

Schools should consider whether to provide information about orders to the general student population or an individual student whose parent has been issued with an order where it is apparent that they are aware of such an order being issued. This may help to counteract any inaccurate information circulating within the school that may cause anxiety to the student.

Information tailored to students about school community safety orders can be found on the Victorian Government School Community Safety Orders websiteExternal Link .

Mitigating the impact of an order on a student with vulnerability

If the student whose parent is subject to an order has a vulnerability, reasonable adjustments to minimise any impacts of the order must be detailed in the communication and access protocol. For example, such vulnerabilities may include impacts on the child’s:

  • continued attendance and engagement at school
  • mental health and wellbeing due either to the knowledge that their parent is subject to an order, or as a flow on effect of any detrimental impacts on parent health, wellbeing or behaviour
  • physical safety and wellbeing, particularly if there is family violence involved.

Authorised persons may seek advice on mitigating impacts on students with vulnerability through Legal Division on 03 9637 3146 or legal.services@education.vic.gov.au, who will provide advice in consultation with relevant areas of the department.

Strategies for mitigating impacts on students with disability or additional needs

A student with disability whose parent is subject to an order may be particularly vulnerable to adverse consequences associated with the order. To limit the impact of an order on a student with disability, the following supports should be considered:

  • The school should continue to convene Student Support GroupExternal Link (SSG) meetings to identify and plan responses for areas of concern and need. If the parent is prohibited from attending school, alternative meeting arrangements can be explored such as video or teleconferencingExternal Link (staff login required). If an order prevents the parent from interacting with any staff members in the SSG, the SSG should consider asking an alternative family member to attend meetings, replacing the staff members affected by the parent’s behaviour, or if this is not possible, limiting the parent’s interactions to receiving and giving updates on the student’s progress via email.
  • The school should consider updating Individual Education Plans to ensure the required supports are in place, particularly to reflect any changes to the student’s circumstances and strategies to mitigate impacts of the order on the student.
  • The school can provide the affected family with information about student transport options, as required and outlined above under ‘School access’.
  • The school should consider accessing Student Support Services for assistance from allied health staff such as psychologists, speech pathologists and social workers, to provide support for students and consultation to school staff in terms of minimising impacts on vulnerable students.

Mitigating impacts on Koorie students

Schools should implement robust measures to mitigate unintended impacts of an order on the engagement and educational opportunities of Koorie students whose parents’ involvement in school life may be limited by an order. Schools should consider:

Other strategies and programs to support the continued engagement of Koorie students can be found in the Koorie Education policy.

Strategies to mitigate risks of student disengagement

A possible unintended consequence of an order that prohibits a parent from attending a school or school related place could be that the child disengages with or increasingly fails to attend school.

Given education is a key protective factor in reducing the likelihood of vulnerable and at-risk children entering the criminal justice system, authorised persons should establish processes to support the child’s continued education. Students from some cohorts would benefit from increased support to foster their wellbeing and engagement at school, including children from low-income households, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, children experiencing family violence or children in out-of-home care.

The school’s Student Wellbeing and Engagement policyExternal Link (staff login required) should be reviewed regularly to ensure the school meets the needs of the student population with targeted strategies to address student behaviour, and health and wellbeing issues.

Targeted support should be provided to students who are already disengaged, at-risk of disengaging or may become disengaged as a result of their parent being issued with an order.

As a first step, schools should access student attendance data through CASES21 to identify the following students:

  • students who are disengaged or at-risk of disengaging
  • students whose attendance has declined since an order has been issued.

As a next step, schools should consider the following actions to mitigate further disengagement of such students:

  • referring to the school’s student engagement policy to ensure engagement strategies are implemented school-wide
  • referring to the attendance policy and guidance for strategies to improve student attendance
  • seek assistance from a LOOKOUT Education Support CentreExternal Link to support students in out-of-home care
  • making a referral to a re-engagement program such as Navigator if strategies to support the student to improve engagement in the school have not been successful
  • if the student is already in a student’s re-engagement program, contacting the provider of the program to check their attendance and level of engagement
  • asking a member of staff with a pre-existing relationship with the student to monitor signs of disengagement.

Regardless of whether an order places limitations on a parent’s ability to communicate with the school, the school should always notify parents of unexplained absences, as soon as practicable on the same day of the absence in accordance with the Attendance policy.

Includes information on outreach to students, school access, mental health and wellbeing support and providing information about orders to students

Reviewed 10 July 2022

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