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.
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 for more information.
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 ). 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:
- The provides free travel to eligible students in rural and regional Victoria to and from school by bus with some for students.
- The provides financial assistance to families in transporting students to and from school where the student lives outside the and attends their nearest appropriate school/campus, or lives within the designated transport area and attends an eligible specialist school.
- The provides a range of transport assistance options to eligible students with disability, such as transport by bus or taxi, a conveyance allowance or to build the student’s capability to travel independently.
- are available to assist students with travel, particularly in metropolitan areas.
- can provide assistance from allied health staff to develop plans for the school to support the student. For example, strategies to facilitate school pick up and drop off where the parent is prohibited from entering school grounds.
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:
- contacting the school counsellor (if available at the school)
- accessing for assistance from allied health staff such as psychologists and social workers
- department funded face-to-face and telephone counselling from
- seeking support from the school’s (for secondary schools only)
- Kids Helpline , 24 hours a day 7 days a week
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.
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.
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 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 (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 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 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:
- building the capability of staff to deliver culturally sensitive education and support to Koorie students, including (staff login required) to strengthen the cultural capability of school staff and accessing the to improve and extend Koorie cultural inclusion practices within schools
- contacting a (KEC) to assist with supporting schools to strengthen Koorie parent/carer partnerships in education
- contacting a KEC or a Service Support Manager to arrange for a Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO) to work with schools to support the engagement, attendance and wellbeing of Koorie students
- updating 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
- whether the student is in out-of-home care and seek assistance from a to support individual students.
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 (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 for strategies to improve student attendance
- seek assistance from a to support students in out-of-home care
- making a referral to a such as 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 policy.
Reviewed 25 January 2024