The purpose of this policy is to ensure all Victorian government schools comply with legislative and Departmental policy requirements when implementing suspension procedures.
- Suspension is a serious disciplinary measure and principals must consider alternative interventions and supports for students before proceeding to suspension as the appropriate action.
- Only principals have authority to make the decision to suspend a student. This authority cannot be delegated.
- Detailed requirements exist for the suspension process and it is essential that principals refer to the full mandatory in the Guidance tab when they are considering suspending a student.
- This policy is underpinned by Ministerial Order 1125.
When considering or implementing a suspension, principals must refer to and apply the procedures set out in the mandatory in the Guidance tab. These guidelines and procedures have been developed to support and guide principals to meet their legal and policy obligations when they are implementing suspension procedures.
Suspension is a serious disciplinary measure and is best reserved for incidents when other measures have not produced a satisfactory response. Principals must consider alternative interventions and supports that can be provided to the student to address the reasons for the behaviour before proceeding to suspension.
The Department’s and associated guidance and resources helps principals to promote positive student behaviour and respond to challenging student behaviour. The student engagement guidance also provides principals with supports and resources regarding disciplinary measures, refer to .
Authority to suspend
Only principals have authority to make the final decision to suspend a student. This authority cannot be delegated. Principals must seek regional director approval to suspend a student for more than 5 consecutive days or more than 15 days in total in a school year.
Grounds for suspension
In order for suspension to be an option, the following conditions must be in place. The student’s behaviour must have occurred:
- whilst attending school
- or travelling to or from school
- or while engaged in any school activity away from the school
- or travelling to or from any school activity
and, the student’s behaviour must meet one or more of the following conditions:
- behaves in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
- causes significant damage to or destruction of property
- commits or attempts to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property
- possesses, uses or sells or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons
- fails to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
- consistently engages in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on age, breastfeeding, gender, identity, impairment, industrial activity, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parent or carer status or status as a carer, physical features, political belief or activity, pregnancy, race, religious belief or activity, sex, sexual orientation, personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes
- consistently behaves in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student
Note: For incidents between students that occur outside of school hours or in locations other than those listed above, a suspension cannot be used as a response. The impact of cyberbullying (and other behaviours) outside of school hours or off school premises on students is acknowledged, however, if the behaviour does not occur at school or a school activity or when travelling to or from school or school activity, suspension is not an available recourse. If incidents outside of school hours are connected to behaviour that does meet the grounds and location requirements for suspension, this external behaviour may be considered when determining the response to an in-school incident.
Procedures for suspension
Principals considering the suspension of a student must refer to the mandatory on the Guidance tab to ensure the required suspension considerations (including grounds for suspension) and the suspension process are followed. Following these guidelines and procedures will support principals to comply with the Ministerial Order 1125 as well as the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), anti-discrimination laws and any other relevant laws, such as duty of care and occupational health and safety.
Schools may contact their regional office for support with the suspension process.
The process of excluding a student from the standard instruction or educational opportunities being provided to other students at the school for part of a day, a full day or multiple days.
Reviewed 30 November 2022