Psychological safety and wellbeing support for school staff
Following an incident that led to a school community safety order (order) being issued, school staff will require adequate post incident support.
As well as creating an order report on eduSafe, authorised persons must also create a separate incident report on eduSafe Plus outlined in the Managing and Reporting School Incidents (including emergencies) policy. Where time permits, an incident report should be prepared before creating an order. By creating an incident report, this will enable staff to receive adequate post-incident support and advice on managing hazards from the department.
There is evidence that repeated exposure to critical incidents can have a cumulative impact on a person’s wellbeing. This may necessitate wellbeing support for witnesses, principals whose decision to issue an order is being challenged at internal and/or external review, and other affected staff as per the eduSafe report submitted by the school.
Support for school staff whose mental health and wellbeing has been impacted by work-related violence requires active engagement from all levels of the department. Line managers (such as area executive directors for principals, and principals for school-based staff) must monitor and proactively provide wellbeing support to staff, recognising the potentially serious mental health impacts of the incident(s) that led to an order being issued.
Line managers should proactively monitor the wellbeing of staff by providing post-incident assistance to ensure that they receive appropriate support, as exposure to incidents can adversely impact mental health and wellbeing. Appropriate support for impacted staff may include:
- referral to counselling services such as the Employee Assistance Program (phone: 1300 361 008) for video counselling, live chat, onsite support, risk assessments and group debriefing service (line managers should allow time during work hours and a private space to debrief and receive counselling)
- temporary relief from duty (for example, temporary arrangements to allow impacted staff members to take leave)
- providing safe access to and from school, such as by arranging for impacted staff members to be accompanied by another staff member
- arranging for another staff member to report the incident on behalf of an impacted staff member to avoid additional trauma from recounting the incident
- targeted health and wellbeing support for principals including the early intervention (staff login required) to assist with identifying and addressing emerging and existing health and wellbeing issues, and Manager Assist, a dedicated telephone advisory service that provides coaching on supporting staff at risk and managing the impact of mental health issues within the workplace (phone: 1800 338 663, email: email@example.com)
- accessing the range of free support (staff login required) that the department provides to keep all employees safe and well
- in line with the Safe and Well: Injury and Illness Management Framework and Return to work from WorkSafe, workers compensation support is available to affected employee/s who may require time off work following workplace incidents, for medical treatment/counselling if required
- external supports, such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 and the Beyond Blue Support .
More information can be found in the Work-Related Violence in Schools Post-Incident Checklist (staff login required), a step-by-step checklist designed to support schools to manage the health, safety and wellbeing impacts of the incident on staff and students.
Reviewing risk controls following an incident
Under the OHS Act, employers have a duty, so far as is reasonably practicable, to eliminate risks to health or, where this is not possible, reduce those risks as far as is reasonably practicable. Reviewing the Risk Management policy in consultation with health and safety representatives will help principals monitor and review the effectiveness of current risk controls in place to manage or eliminate the risk that might affect their students, staff or operations.
Principals are required to monitor and review the effectiveness of current risk controls in place following an incident to improve measures to manage or eliminate the risk, in consultation with health and safety representatives and relevant employees.
Support for conducting an OHS risk assessment of the hazards relating to the behaviour that resulted in an order being issued is available through the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed 10 July 2022