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education.vic.gov.au

Work-Related Violence in Schools

Policy last updated

24 November 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

OHS Advisory Service There are additional contacts for this topic. Refer to the contacts heading at the bottom of the page


Date:
August 2021

Policy

Policy

This policy outlines the risk management methodology for preventing, managing and responding to health, safety and wellbeing risks posed by work-related violence and other unsafe behaviours in schools.

Summary

  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (the OHS Act) requires the Department to provide or maintain systems of work and a working environment that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health – including in relation to work-related violence.
  • The principal and/or their delegate have responsibilities under the OHS Act as the Department’s representative and site manager of their school. Principals are responsible for identifying and managing the risks associated with work-related violence, with expert assistance and support from the Department’s central and regional offices as required.
  • Principals must follow the Work-Related Violence Procedure (in the Procedure tab), which sets out the practical step by step instructions for implementing this policy.

Details

WorkSafe defines work-related violence as ‘when a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in a situation related to their work'. It can occur in person, over the phone or online, and be caused by the behaviour of other employees, clients or customers, or members of the public.

Under the OHS Act, employees must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions while at work.

In order to meet their OHS obligations as site manager, the principal or their delegate, in consultation with school employees and health and safety representatives (HSR), must:

  • enter 'work-related violence' as a hazard in the school Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Risk Register (Excel)
  • identify and record the workplace factor(s) that contribute to the work-related violence risk in the workplace
  • assess the level of risk associated with workplace contributing factors, as per section 3.1 and 3.2 of the Work-Related Violence in Schools Procedure
  • complete a risk assessment if the risk level in the OHS Risk Register is rated ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’, and document the risk assessment using the Risk Assessment Template (Word) or equivalent (refer to specific requirements for student challenging behaviours at section 3 of the procedure)
  • record the current risk controls in the OHS Risk Register, and in any documented risk assessment
  • eliminate or reduce the level of risk associated with work-related risk factors that may cause a work-related violence related injury, so far as is reasonably practicable, by considering the workplace factors.

The principal and/or their delegate must: 

  • monitor and review the effectiveness of implemented risk controls on a regular and ongoing basis (for example, quarterly) in consultation with relevant parties (including the HSR). Additional reviews are required when:
    • an incident or near miss is reported that indicates the risks and controls need updating
    • a new potential risk is identified (for example, through a report on eduSafe Plus – staff login required) 
  • ensure all employees are provided with information, instruction and training about the risks and controls in place to manage work-related violence in the school
  • ensure all hazards, incidents and injuries related to work-related violence are reported on eduSafe Plus per the Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including emergencies) Policy.

Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees manage occupational health and safety risks, including access to the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Service and local occupational health and safety support officers, who can provide advice about how to manage risks related to work-related violence.

Definitions

Work-related violence
WorkSafe defines this as ‘when a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in a situation related to their work’. It can occur in person, over the phone or online, and be caused by the behaviour of other employees, clients or customers, or members of the public.

Further information on types of work-related violence can be found at Work-related violence: a guide for employers

Relevant legislation

Contacts

OHS Advisory Service

Phone: 1300 074 715
Email: safety@education.vic.gov.au

Regional OHS Support Officers

For assistance with OHS Management System and facilities related queries. Contact details for the OHS Support Officers in each region is found in Useful OHS contacts.

Contact

OHS Advisory Service There are additional contacts for this topic. Refer to the contacts heading at the bottom of the page


Procedure

Work-Related Violence Procedure

The Work-Related Violence Procedure must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing the Work-Related Violence Policy.

It contains the following chapters:

  1. Work-related violence risk assessment
  2. Risk controls – overview
  3. Risk controls – student challenging behaviours
  4. Risk controls – parent/carer behaviours
  5. Incident reporting
  6. Department support for schools

1 Work-related violence risk assessment

The Department’s duty to maintain a safe working environment in schools is owed to all employees, including principals. The Victorian Government is committed to preventing and responding to work-related violence (WRV) across the public sector.

In schools, there are a wide range of potential scenarios involving behaviours that are violent, aggressive or otherwise pose a safety risk. These behaviours can have serious consequences for the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, students and other members of the school community.

The following information outlines the requirements and process for conducting WRV risk assessments. General information on WRV risk controls is provided in the following chapter.

Specific strategies and advice on managing WRV risks relating to student challenging behaviours and parent/carer behaviours are outlined at:

1.1 Identify hazards

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with health and safety representatives (HSR) and employees must enter 'work-related violence' in the ‘Hazard Description’ column of the school Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Risk Register (Excel).

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with HSRs and employees must complete a risk assessment if the risk level in the OHS Risk Register is rated ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’, and document the risk assessment using the Risk Assessment Template (Word) or equivalent.

Schools can seek assistance from the OHS Advisory Service, including regional OHS officers, in identifying WRV hazards. The Employee Health Safety and Wellbeing Division can provide additional support in identifying hazards where there are complex, significant and ongoing risks to employee safety from violent or aggressive behaviour.

Potential scenarios presenting an WRV risk in schools include:

  • 2 or more students are physically fighting, and a member of school staff is injured when attempting to intervene
  • a student displays challenging behaviours that may, in certain situations, escalate to hitting or punching staff. Students may also pinch or hit because they have not yet learnt how to communicate their needs in a prosocial way. This behaviour may not be intended to harm, but can still result in physical and/or psychological injury
  • a parent or carer is upset about an incident involving their child and makes abusive or threatening calls and emails to school staff and education support staff
  • parents, carers and other family members use abusive or threatening language on social media and in other online forums, such as e-petitions
  • members of staff or of the school community physically assault, threaten or verbally abuse a staff member on school grounds.

1.2 Identify the contributing workplace factors

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the HSR and employees, are to identify and record the contributing workplace factor(s) that alone, or in combination, may contribute to the WRV risk in the workplace. Contributing factors may occur at the level of the school, the Department, or the broader community.

Consider the following questions/statements to assist with identifying workplace hazards and contributing factors.

1.2.1 Effective systems

Workplace design

Consider how physical environments can be designed or adapted to reduce the risk of WRV.

  • Are there appropriate entry and exit points for buildings/rooms?
  • Is there appropriate security infrastructure in place?
  • Are teaching spaces and playground areas assessed and fit for purpose?
  • Are there objects or parts of infrastructure that could be used as a weapon and need to be removed?

Resourcing and workflow management

Are there appropriate staffing ratios/supervision arrangements in place?

Incident management systems and planning

Does the school’s emergency management plan include planning for when the school will access regional supports, or for when a WRV incident impacts on the ability of school staff to perform their duties?

Consider the strategies outlined in the procedure chapters

Risk controls – student challenging behaviours and Risk controls – parent/carer behaviour

1.2.2 Capability and culture

Organisational culture and school climate

Is there a strong culture of inclusion, respect and safety for staff, students and the broader school community?

Education and training

Do staff have the right training to understand, prevent and manage WRV related risks?

Consultation and information sharing

  • Are staff proactively engaged in risk management planning, through HSRs or through other consultative forums such as health and safety committees?
  • Have WRV risks been communicated to staff?

1.2.3 Supporting our people

Incident response

  • Are appropriate procedures in place to respond to and report incidents?
  • Do staff have sufficient time to complete eduSafe Plus reporting and access supports?

Department support

  • Can staff readily access support and advice from their manager and the Department?
  • Are there targeted supports in place for staff who are affected by WRV?
  • Have staff been provided with the contact details for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

2 Risk controls – overview

2 Risk controls – overview

2.1 Development and selection of risk controls

Appropriate risk controls are critical to ensure staff are provided with the highest level of prevention of and protection from work-related violence (WRV). To discharge their responsibilities as site manager, the principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the health and safety representative (HSR) and employees, must eliminate or (if this is not possible) reduce the level of WRV risk so far as is reasonably practicable, by considering the workplace factors in section 1.2 of this procedure.

General principles for the development and selection of risk controls include:

  • Activities to control the risk should be school and work-group specific. Where Department resources or programs are drawn upon, they should be adapted to the specific context of the school.
  • Activities to control the risk should be targeted at both school environment (physical and online) and community (teachers, students, parents/carers and others) factors identified through a risk assessment.
  • Risk-control plans should focus on prevention of incidents, but also cover prevention or reduction of health, safety and wellbeing impacts where incidents do occur.
  • Risk-control plans should focus on organisational-level interventions but also include individual-level interventions.
  • Employee induction, instruction and training should form part of a holistic approach to addressing WRV.

Examples of risk controls and resources and supports for different workplace factors are set out in the Work-Related Violence Risk Controls, Resources and Supports Table (Word).

2.2 Record current risk controls

The principal and/or their delegate should consult the HSR and relevant employees and record the current risk controls in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Risk Register (Excel).

Where a risk assessment is to be completed, current risk controls should also be recorded in the Risk Assessment Template (Word) or equivalent.

2.3 Information, instruction and training

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure all employees are informed about the risk controls in place to manage WRV in the workplace. This can be achieved by:

  • ensuring all employees complete an OHS induction prior to commencing work
  • promoting and encouraging employees to report hazards (for example, psychosocial hazards), near misses and incidents on eduSafe Plus (login required)

and by providing employees with:

  • a copy of the school OHS Risk Register and completed risk assessments and the opportunity to raise questions and participate in consultative processes
  • information about likely WRV hazards they may encounter in their work
  • information from the Department about existing resources and strategies to reduce the risk of WRV related injuries
  • information about the Employee Assistance Program and how to access it.

2.4 Monitor, review and revise controls

Due to the complexity of workplace factors that can cause WRV related injury, it is important that WRV risks are managed on an ongoing basis, regularly reviewed, and revised when necessary. The principal or their delegate are required to monitor and review the effectiveness of implemented risk controls on a regular basis (for example, quarterly) in consultation with HSR and relevant employees.

Review of controls must be ongoing. However, additional reviews and revisions are required when:

  • an incident or near miss is reported that indicates the risks and controls need updating
  • a new potential risk is identified (for example, through a report on eduSafe Plus).

3 Risk controls – student challenging behaviours

3 Risk controls – student challenging behaviours

3.1 Development and selection of risk controls

Because of the wide range of potential scenarios where student behaviour can become violent, aggressive or otherwise pose a safety risk, actions to prevent and respond to these behaviours must be tailored depending on a number of factors including:

  • the level of risk of the behaviour to the safety of staff and students
  • the context of the behaviour
  • the individual needs of the student
  • the capability and experience of school staff
  • the circumstances of the school (for example, location, size, student population).

For all students, building a positive, safe and inclusive school environment is critical in assisting to prevent and manage the occurrence of behaviours that are violent, aggressive or otherwise pose a safety risk.

Where students present with known challenging behaviours, equipping school staff with the skills to work safely with students, and the capability to support students to be engaged in learning according to their skill and functional level, can help prevent situations where there is a significant risk to safety.

Detailed information about strategies to support student behaviour can be found in the Behaviour – Students topic on PAL.  

3.1.1 Behaviour support plans and risk management plans for students

Where student challenging behaviours pose a safety risk that is rated ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’, a functional behaviour assessment is recommended and a behaviour support plan is required. Where there is a significant, ongoing risk to staff safety, a risk management plan for students with challenging behaviours must also be in place.

  • Behaviour Support Plan is required for all students with known challenging behaviours. It is a document designed to assist schools to provide additional support and guidance to identified students. Behaviour Support Plans are function based and include preventative strategies to reduce triggers leading to challenging student behaviours and is reviewed regularly to ensure students and staff are receiving the best support. If a student has particularly challenging behaviour, it may be useful to engage a board-certified behaviour analyst to conduct a formal functional behaviour assessment to inform the student’s Behaviour Support Plan.
  • Risk Management Plan – student behaviour (staff login required) assists the principal and school staff, with the support of the Employee Wellbeing Response Team, to define the range of actions that have been identified to ensure staff can safely provide teaching and support to a student whose behaviours may pose a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, students and others at the school. If the student has a Behaviour Support Plan, the Risk Management Plan for student behaviour will support and reference the Behaviour Support Plan, and should be reviewed whenever the Behaviour Support Plan is reviewed or updated.

3.1.2 Protective intervention training

Protective intervention training helps school staff to:

  • prevent and manage challenging behaviours while reducing the need for physical interventions
  • de-escalate situations involving aggressive or violent behaviour
  • ensure the health and safety of students and staff at all times.

Protective intervention training does not provide training in restraint or physical interventions, and should not be relied upon to manage challenging student behaviour overall.

The Department has established a panel of protective intervention training providers. The panel is quality assured and centrally funded.

Currently, the panel includes the following providers:

We are expecting other providers to join the panel over time.

How to access training for your school

There are 2 options for accessing protective intervention training at your school:

  1. Submit an Expression of Interest form to receive funding from the Department to cover the costs of training from the centrally funded panel of providers.
    • For assistance in filling out the form, your school can contact the central OHS Advisory Service at safety@education.vic.gov.au or call 1300 074 715.
    • Your school will be notified of the outcome of the EOI and will be contacted to confirm a booking.
  2. Directly procure training from a training provider of your choice.
    • Your school does not need to use the panel providers to procure protective intervention training. Schools can directly procure training in line with the Procurement – Schools Policy.
    • However your school must cover the costs of this training and make sure the training provider used complies with Department policies and guidelines, including the Restraint and Seclusion Policy and Guidance.

3.1.3 Further support

For further support, including advice on what individualised plans may be required where a student presents with challenging behaviours, schools should contact:

  • Senior Wellbeing and Engagement Officers in your region can provide support around students presenting with challenging behaviours.
  • Student Support Services (SSS), which include psychologists, speech pathologists and social workers assist children and young people facing a range of barriers to learning to achieve their educational and developmental potential. When challenging behaviours are ongoing and difficult for school staff to manage, schools are encouraged to lodge a request through the Student Online Case System (SOCS) for support from SSS. SSS also provide support developing, implementing, reviewing and troubleshooting Behaviour Support Plans.
  • For support on significant risks to staff safety (including where a Behaviour Support Plan is in place but additional support is required) – the Employee Wellbeing Response Team can be contacted at Employee.Wellbeing.Response.Team@education.vic.gov.au
  • The Restraint and Seclusion Policy outlines the legal requirements relating to physical restraint and seclusion, including when restraint and seclusion are permitted and the reporting requirements when this occurs.

Student Support Services and the Employee Wellbeing Response Team work closely together to ensure that behaviour support plans and risk management plans are implemented appropriately and effectively.

3.2 Record current risk controls

Where a school has individualised plans in place for students with challenging behaviours, the principal and/or delegate should record the existence of these plans in the school OHS Risk Register. They do not need to indicate the names or number of students for whom plans are in place.

3.3 Information, instruction and training

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that in addition to induction and general staff training, staff likely to be affected by student challenging behaviours must be briefed on/trained in the individual plans for students with challenging behaviours. A copy of any plan/s must be readily available to staff.

3.4 Monitor, review and revise controls

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that in addition to regular reviews of controls, any incident involving a student with challenging behaviours requires a review and, if necessary, revision of the Behaviour Support Plan and any other individual plans in place. If student behaviour continues to pose a significant safety risk, the principal and/or delegate must escalate the case through the SSS Branch Manager and the Employee Wellbeing Response Team.


4 Risk controls – parent/carer behaviours

4 Risk controls – parent/carer behaviours

A safe, supportive and inclusive school environment is essential for providing quality learning opportunities for all students, which parents/carers and schools have a shared responsibility in creating.

While the majority of parents/carers, community members and visitors to schools positively engage with their child’s education and the school community, in some cases, parents/carers engage in behaviour towards school staff that is disrespectful, unsafe or otherwise unacceptable.

Parent/carer behaviour towards school staff that is violent, aggressive or otherwise unsafe is also a recognised occupational health and safety (OHS) risk. 

The following information outlines strategies schools can consider implementing to manage these risks.

4.1 Prevention strategies

Step 1: Establishing and promoting respectful and safe parent/carer behaviour

When a child is enrolled at a school it is important to establish positive relationships and clear expectations with parents/carers from the outset.

Ways that schools can do this include:

  • sharing the Department’s Respectful Behaviours within the School Community Policy with their school community. This policy sets out clear standards of behaviours that help create and support a safe, respectful and inclusive learning environment for students, staff and adult members of the school community
  • sharing resources that communicate this policy to the school community and promote positive, respectful relationships in our schools, which can be found in the Government Schools Communications Toolkit (Word) under the Resources tab. The communication resources include:
    • poster for staff (PDF) for display in staff rooms and other areas of the school
    • poster for parents in English (PDF) and other languages for display on school grounds, to include in new enrolment packs etc.
    • social media template
    • newsletter/email content to communicate to families in English and other languages
    • email template to communicate to staff
  • promoting respectful behaviours communicated in the policy by:
    • including the above resources in pre-enrolment documentation packs
    • referring to them in school newsletters
    • displaying them on noticeboards
    • publishing or linking to them from the school website
  • establishing the school community’s collective expectation for respectful, safe and positive behaviours right from the commencement of its relationship with a parent/carer through:
  • involving parents/carers in school activities, such as:
    • organising parent orientation days and prep transition programs
    • providing culturally safe and inclusive informal forums, such as morning teas at the school
    • encouraging parents/carers from diverse backgrounds to join school council. Informal opportunities increase positive engagement between parents and schools, and are a good way of creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment, particularly with Aboriginal and culturally diverse families
  • ensuring the school’s Complaints Policy is publicly accessible, for example on the school’s website, and referring to the Department’s Parent Complaints Policy and emphasising the message that complaints can be an opportunity for improvement in the school’s practices and in its relationships. A quick reference guide is available for parents and carers to understand how to raise a concern or complaint: Parent Concerns and Complaints (PDF)
  • providing opportunities for parents to provide feedback, both positive and negative
  • to assist a parent wishing to provide negative feedback, ensuring that the school’s complaint’s policy is publicly accessible, for example on the school’s website and in welcome packs to the school
  • referring to the Department’s Complaints – Parents Policy, emphasising the message that complaints can be an opportunity for improvement in the school’s practices and its relationships.

For a template school complaints policy refer to the School Policy Templates Portal: Complaints (staff login required).

Step 2: Prevention and de-escalation of unacceptable behaviours in the early stages

If you consider that a parent or carer’s behaviour falls short of your school’s expectations, the principal or delegate can consider contacting the parent/carer to:

  • provide early opportunities to meet to discuss and resolve concerns and inviting them to use an advocate, support person or interpreter if it is useful. Consider if an independent conflict resolution or facilitator can assist you in preparing for and chairing meetings with parents – refer to Converge International (Word) (staff login required)
  • refer to the Department’s Respectful Behaviours within the School Community Policy (and any other relevant school-based policies) and the behavioural expectations it outlines, and provide the parent with options to raise concerns in ways that are consistent with those expectations.

By working together to resolve a concern, early intervention is more likely to result in mutual agreements and better outcomes.

Considerations when interacting with parents and carers from diverse backgrounds

Schools must offer interpreting and translation services to parents and carers who have limited or no English language skills to communicate key information about their child’s education. Refer to the Interpreting and Translation Services Policy for more information.

Parents or carers that behave or communicate in an unacceptable manner may be impacted by a range of factors, such as an intellectual or cognitive disability, mental illness, trauma, lack of English ability, cultural differences, prior experience from their own schooling or their cultural background, or a range of other life pressures.

For example, some parents or carers may communicate in a direct manner that may be considered rude or mildly aggressive by certain school staff, when this is the common way to communicate in their culture.

While this does not excuse unacceptable behaviour, school staff should consider whether these factors have influenced the behaviour of a parent or carer when interacting or resolving conflict with them.

Where an issue of escalating unacceptable behaviour concerns a parent/carer who is Aboriginal or has an Aboriginal child at the school, the principal should contact the relevant Koorie Education Coordinator through the Department’s Area or Regional office and seek their advice on how best to support the family. While the principal may seek the advice of the Koorie Education Coordinator, parent/carer consent must be obtained before they can play a more direct support role for the family.

Resolving conflicts and complaints

Use conflict resolution and complaint resources and processes at the school, regional or Department level where appropriate to try to resolve the concerns.

Conflict resolution

Conflict management and resolution are most successful when used early and can help avoid the need for more stressful formal processes. 

The Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution has a suite of conflict resolution and complaint management training programs (staff login required), including for specific scenarios such as:

  • responding to complainants who appear to be in poor mental health
  • working effectively with families of children with disabilities
  • handling high conflict, vexatious and disrespectful complainants.

Refer to Conflict resolution in schools (staff login required) for a guide on managing conflict in schools, information on mediation and facilitated discussion services, and conflict training videos delivered by the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria and the Independent Office of School Dispute Resolution.

To facilitate conflict management and resolution, schools may refer to Managing conflict in the school setting – A guide for principals (staff login required) developed by the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution.

Complaints management

If the parent/carer interaction relates to a complaint, refer to the Department’s Complaints – Parents Policy for information.

If parent/carer behaviour has had a negative wellbeing impact during the conflict or complaints resolution process, consider referring the affected staff member to the wellbeing supports listed under Step 7 – Restoring wellbeing after an incident. 

4.2  Managing escalating behaviours and complex matters

Step 3: Intervention

When a parent/carer has not met the expectations in the Department’s Respectful Behaviours within the School Community Policy, the principal or delegate should approach the person (if safe to do so), and help them establish a framework for interaction that will be consistent with the behaviour expected at the school.

If the behaviour continues, suggested next steps include:

  • sending a letter or email to the parent/carer referring to the initial discussion, and informing them of the seriousness of the behaviour and the impact on staff, students and the greater school community and establishing a communication plan. A communications plan sample letter (Word) is available for principals or delegates to tailor at the appropriate level, to their own context. You may wish to contact Complex Matters Support Team (staff login required) or Legal Division if communications need to be tailored to your specific needs
  • providing the person with the option of nominating an agent, advocate or support person to communicate with the school on their behalf
  • for parents/carers, providing details of the Department’s parent complaint process which includes options for how the parent/carer may communicate with the region.

Complex matters

Particularly complex matters involving ongoing written correspondence with parents/carers may qualify for support from the Department’s Complex Matters Support Team (staff login required).

The Complex Matters Support Team can provide principals or delegates with advice and support on other possible measures to help manage the concerns, and steps available to reduce the health and wellbeing impact of unreasonable parent/carer behaviour.

For appropriate matters, if the Department’s usual systems have been exhausted but a complaint remains unresolved, the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution can be approached to facilitate a final attempt at consensual resolution.

Step 4: Conflict resolution

Where a school has already taken the suggested steps to address unacceptable behaviour and an acceptable outcome is not reached, schools may consider formal conflict resolution services through the independent conflict resolution provider, Converge International (staff login required).

The nature of the mediation service will depend on the situation and the parties involved but may include:

  • all parties meeting (virtual or face-to-face) in a formal setting with an independent facilitator
  • facilitated discussion between principals/staff and parents in an informal setting
  • the principal receiving counsel.

Step 5: Consider alternative forms of future communication

The school should consider safe options for any future communications with the parent. Depending on the nature of the behaviour, these options could include:

  • meeting with a parent/carer who is supported by an advocate or support person
  • providing the parent/carer with a regional contact for any future communications
  • communicating only in writing
  • establishing a communications plan (Word) between the school and the parent which sets out the excepted method of communication. Complex Matters Support Team or Legal Division can assist in tailoring this to your specific needs.

Step 6: Escalating behaviour that is violent, aggressive or otherwise unsafe

If the parent/carer fails to modify their behaviour or their behaviour escalates, principals or delegates should take further steps to provide for the safety of students and staff, as well as to protect their own safety, health and wellbeing:

  • the OHS Advisory Service and regional OHS officers are available to support schools identify and manage the impact of WRV hazards
  • the Employee Wellbeing Response Team can provide additional support in identifying and managing hazards where there are complex, significant and ongoing risks to employee safety from violent or aggressive behaviour.

If there is an immediate safety risk

If a parent/carer individual acts in any way that you believe is violent or makes threats of violence against a staff member or a student, you should immediately:

  • contact Victoria Police on 000
  • implement the school’s Emergency Management Plan
  • contact the Department’s Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) on 1800 126 126 to report the incident
  • follow the Four Critical Actions for Schools (PDF) if you witness an incident, receive a disclosure or form a reasonable belief that a child has been or is at risk of being abused.

Once the immediate threat has been responded to in line with the above directions, you should take the following steps:

  1. seek support from your Senior Education and Improvement Leader (SEIL) and region
  2. if there is an ongoing threat, contact the Department’s Legal Division on 03 9637 3146 for further advice, including information on Trespass Notices or other strategies
  3. if you witness an incident, receive a disclosure or form a reasonable belief that a child has been or is at risk of being abused, you must follow the Four Critical Actions for Schools (PDF)
  4. Ensure details of the incident and the actions taken in response are well documented and reported on eduSafe Plus and to the Department's ISOC on 1800 126 126.

4.3 Restoring wellbeing – regional and central supports

Step 7: Restoring wellbeing after an incident

Working to restore the wellbeing of school staff following an incident is critical, both to protect the long-term health and safety of staff, as well as to form constructive and sustainable relationships with parents/carers in the future.

Suggested steps include:

  • de-briefing and planning for future interactions with the parents/carers involved
  • as appropriate, seeking support from:
    • your SEIL and region
    • Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing Services (for example, Early Intervention, EAP and Manager Assist)
    • a Workplace Contact Officer, who can provide school staff with confidential and impartial guidance for resolving workplace issues such as discrimination, bullying and harassment
  • where there is an impact on students, seeking support from Student Support Services (SSS).

The Work-Related Violence in Schools Post-Incident Checklist (PDF) (staff login required) is a step-by-step checklist designed to support schools to manage the health, safety and wellbeing impacts of the incident on staff and students.


5 Incident reporting

5 Incident reporting

The principal or their delegate must ensure all hazards, incidents and injuries are reported in accordance with the Department’s Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including emergencies) Policy, including reporting on eduSafe Plus (staff login required).


6 Department support for schools

6 Department support for schools

For further information/support: OHS Advisory Service (staff login required) can provide help with implementing the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management System, reporting or closing hazards or incidents in eduSafe Plus, conducting environmental assessments, conducting risk assessments and other OHS issues. This includes regional OHS and facilities support officers, based across the state (3 per region), to provide direct support to schools with general OHS matters and management of the OHS Management System and OHS audit process.

Regional supports

Contact details for your regional supports are found under Useful OHS contacts for schools.

North-Western Victoria Region

  • Regional OHS and support officers
  • Learning Place Connect – provides phone-based support and advice for school leadership, teachers and education support staff in relation to student health and wellbeing

North-Eastern Victoria Region

  • Regional OHS and support officers

South-Western Victoria Region

  • Regional OHS and support officers

South-Eastern Victoria Region

  • Regional OHS and support officers

Resources

Resources

Templates relevant to this policy and procedure

  • OHS Risk Register (Excel) – to identify, record and manage OHS risks, including work-related violence risks related to student behaviours of concern. Schools may already have their own OHS Risk Register to refer to.
  • Risk Assessment Template (Word) – to monitor and control identified hazards using risk management methods.
  • Risk Management Plan – student behaviour (staff login required) – to assist the principal and school staff to define the range of actions that have been identified to ensure staff can safely provide teaching and support to a student whose behaviours may pose a risk to the health, safely and wellbeing of staff, students and others at the school.
  • Communications plan sample letter (Word) – this template can be tailored by principals or their delegates to set the expected method of respectful communication between the school and the parent/carer. The Complex Matters Support Team or Legal Division can assist in tailoring this to the school’s needs.

Flowcharts and supports

Safety at Work for School Staff communications material

Safety at work toolkits

Use the communications materials contained in these toolkits to raise awareness about the new policy and to promote positive, respectful relationships between adults in our school communities.

Safety at work posters

Download and print the parent facing poster for display in settings where parents, carers and adults in the school community frequent. The poster is available in 30+ languages to select from below.

Safety at work newsletter content

Use these materials to communicate policy and the new parent page to your parents, carers, or your school community.

You will need to add your principal’s name and signature to these Microsoft Word materials.

If you open your file and see boxes replacing the font, it’s because you don’t have that language font on your computer. Fonts have been provided for you below to download when/if needed.

A PDF has been provided of the correct replication on the font if you wish to use as a reference.

For an English version of this newsletter content, please view your relevant communications toolkit.

Family engagement resources

Family engagement in learning resource – for parents and carers (PDF) (staff login required)


Reviewed 24 August 2021