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School Policy & Advisory Guide

Reporting (emergency and incidents)

Purpose of this policy

To ensure expert response to all school emergencies and incidents including incidents that occur during:

  • camps, excursions or outdoor adventure activities
  • weekends and holidays
  • travel to or from school
  • non-school hours.


Schools must:

  • call 000 immediately to report any incident threatening life or property, emergency services on this number are:
    • police for crime, injury that may not be accidental or assault
    • ambulance for injury and medical assistance.
    • fire brigade for fires and incidents involving hazardous and dangerous materials (report all fires, regardless of state and size, even if extinguished).
  • DO NOT contact local emergency services directly. To do so increases response times as these calls are redirected to 000 wasting valuable time in an emergency.
  • notify the Security Services Unit after contacting 000, telephone: (03) 9589-6266.

Incident reporting

Schools must immediately report to Security Services Unit any incident posing a:

  • risk to the safety of a student, parent, visitor or staff member including:
    • serious injury or death
    • allegations of or actual physical or sexual assault
  • threat to property or the environment.

Prompt incident reporting (to the Security Services Unit) enables:

  • Security Services Unit staff to provide support and advice to schools
  • quick resolution of emergencies while minimising the risk to personal safety
  • quick implementation of preventative measures in the case of criminal activity.

Note: Prompt incident notification enables Security Services Unit staff at the coordination centre to provide support and advice to schools.  This helps to resolve emergencies quickly while minimising the risk to personal safety.

Reportable incidents

As a general rule, serious incident is one that requires medical attention or a police investigation.

Examples of reportable incidents involving schools include:

  • motor vehicle collision and/or all WorkCover incidents
  • impact by machinery, equipment, aircraft
  • fatalities
  • fire on school grounds, bush or grass fire
  • incidents of death or serious injury (injury requiring medical attention)
  • incidents resulting in:
  • closure or significant damage to parts of a building or its contents and/or a threat to health and safety
  • bomb threat
  • outbreak or incidence of disease
  • presence of toxic fumes or explosive conditions
  • finding hazardous material on school site including explosives, fog signals, detonators, gun powder, cords and fuses, blasting cartridges, incendiary devices, marine distress signals, propellant powders etc
  • fumes, spill, leak or contamination by hazardous material
  • flood, windstorm, earthquake or other natural disasters
  • criminal activity such as suspicious person/s and/or vehicles, vandalism, burglary, graffiti, theft, fraud, property damage
  • neighbourhood complaint
  • missing/disappearance/removal of student/s including:
    • unauthorised/unexplained absenteeism from school
    • unauthorised absenteeism resulting in a missing persons report
  • firearms, weapons or bomb threat
  • behaviour of a student, visitor or staff member that could lead to potential risk to someone else
  • serious threats made against a person
  • siege or hostage situation
  • need for evacuation or lockdown
  • unethical staff behaviour particularly if it involves taking advantage of a student, visitor or staff member
  • issues of negligence or legal liability
  • near misses: incidents that very nearly lead to injury or death
    Example: Hazardous condition observed/near misses.
  • an event with a major impact on school operations or the potential to:
    • involve the relevant Minister
    • subject the Department to high levels of public or legal scrutiny.

Important:  Schools shouldn't handle any explosives found at school. However if it’s necessary to remove explosives from a student’s possession avoid bumping, striking or dropping the object.  Place the object gently in an isolated position, ensure it is not exposed to any form of heat/ignition and wait for the police. 

Note: Schools should also report any nuisance activity which may not have led to damage, but could lead to crime at a future time.  This information is used to implement pro-active security measures such as targeted security patrols, temporary surveillance and intruder detection systems to prevent criminal activity.

Bomb threats

  1. call police on 000
  2. notify the Security Services Unit on 03 9589 6266
  3. implement the school’s emergency management plan
  4. do not search for the bomb
  5. do not allow a search by students or staff
  6. do not impede an explosives inspector from entering school premises

Note: an inspector of explosives may interview students at school on the same basis as a police interview.

Reporting fires

All fires, including those that have been extinguished and regardless of their size, must be reported to the relevant fire service for the particular locality by contacting 000 and the Security Services Unit.

Helicopter landings in schools in an emergency

The Department has given a general authorisation for the use of school grounds as helicopter landing sites during emergencies for the: air ambulance, fire reconnaissance or crime prevention. 

The urgent nature of an emergency may preclude advance notification.  The pilot is responsible for ensuring that the:

  • area chosen for landing is suitable
  • safety of those on the ground is not compromised.

If a landing occurs during school time, students must remain at a safe distance, clear of the departure, and approach paths.

The Department has not given approval for media, commercially or privately operated helicopters to use school grounds.  They must obtain permission from the principal before landing.

Note:  If the principal or school council consider helicopter arrivals or departures from the school grounds for non-emergency purposes there are stringent requirements for the safety of spectators and protection of the environment.  Schools must contact the Aviation Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Transport and the State Environment Protection Authority. See: Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Transport and Environment Protection Authority.

Criminal offence and insurance reporting

In the case of a loss arising from a criminal offence, the principal should:

  • report the matter to the President of the school council
  • take steps to determine the extent of the crime i.e. burglary, theft, fire/arson, vandalism, significant graffiti and details of make, model and serial numbers of any missing equipment
  • complete a Criminal Offence and Insurance Report and email it to the Infrastructure Division
  • take steps to avoid the possibility of further loss strengthening internal control procedures and security measures. 

Related policies

Related legislation

  • Emergency Management Act 1986

Department resources