Every child and young person deserves a high quality education. They have the legal right to attend a government school.
Making sure students are safe and well is a priority for the Victorian government.
Expulsion means a student is permanently excluded from the school they are attending. It is the most serious discipline option for a school.
Expulsion can happen if a student’s behaviour is so serious it’s dangerous to other students and school staff.
The behaviour must meet one or more of seven reasons in Ministerial Order No. 1125 – Procedures for Suspension and Expulsion of Students in Government Schools.
The behaviour must have happened while your child was:
- at school
- travelling to or from school, or
- attending a school related activity.
What the principal will do
Only principals can expel students. They must follow a set process. The process is to:
- be fair and transparent
- give support to the child.
The principal will:
- investigate what’s happened
- invite you and your child to a meeting to talk about what’s happened. This meeting is called a behaviour support and intervention meeting.
- consider all of the information available
- make a decision about whether expulsion is the only available option.
Behaviour support and intervention meeting
The principal must hold a behaviour support and intervention meeting before making a decision.
In this meeting, you and your child can:
- hear why an expulsion is being considered
- hear the evidence for an expulsion
- respond to this evidence and be heard
- provide any extra information that will help the principal make a decision
- discuss support for your child to help them stay at school. Or you may discuss suitable future education, training or employment options.
The principal does not decide to expel a student before this meeting.
The meeting will include:
- you and your child
- the principal and relevant members of staff who have or have had a role in supporting your child
- a support person from the Department. This is an employee who is experienced in student wellbeing. Their full title is ‘regional approved support person’.
You’re able to bring another support person. It is important that you and your child feel supported and able to fully participate in the meeting. This person cannot be paid or rewarded by you for their time.
The school can also organise an interpreter if required.
If you’re unable to participate in the meeting
It’s very important that your child has somebody to advocate and provide support for them at this meeting.
If you can’t participate for any reason, you can nominate another trusted adult to take your place. You will need to complete a relevant person nomination form (pdf - 532.52kb)
You can also talk to the school about using an independent support person from the Department.
This person is an employee of the Department and has no relation with the school. They are sometimes called a ‘relevant person’ or a ‘suitable person’. They have special training and will advocate on behalf of your child and their best interests.
This person can attend the meeting on your behalf and may also be accompanied by a support person of your choice.
Bring a support person
A support person can be anyone your family trusts to:
- act in your child’s best interests
- speak on your child’s behalf.
They can be involved in supporting the student and family before, during and after the expulsion process.
You may want to use a support person or organisation with suitable experience if:
- your child has a disability
- you have specific cultural or religious needs.
How a support person from the Department can support you and your child
This person can:
- attend the behaviour support and intervention meeting with you or your representative
- explain the expulsion process and help your child understand it
- explain your child’s rights, and your own rights as a parent or carer
- ensure the school follows the right legislation and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
- listen to your concerns and answer questions
- help you think about and explain the best outcome for your child
- help you prepare for the meeting so you and your child have an opportunity to be heard
- help you and your child think about the next steps if the principal decides to expel your child
- make sure you have the right paperwork
- support you through the appeals process
- support your child’s move to a new setting if required.
The support person is not there to:
- make a decision for you
- act on behalf of the school or the Department.
Koorie students and families
There is a dedicated Koorie workforce who give information and support to Koorie students and families. You can contact your school or regional engagement coordinator for more information.
You can also contact the
Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated for independent support or call 9481 0800.
Students with a disability
If your child has a disability, the Department can provide extra support.
You can contact your school or regional engagement coordinator for more information about this support.
You can also contact the
Disability Advocacy Resource Unit for independent support or call 9639 5807.
Older children—adults and ‘mature minors’
If your child is 18 years old or older they can represent themselves during an expulsion process if they choose to.
You can still support them and attend relevant meetings if they give permission.
The school will strongly encourage your child to have a parent, carer, support person or independent person to help them.
The law recognises that as children become older and more mature, they are more capable of making their own decisions.
If your child asks to represent themselves during the expulsion process, the principal will need to determine if:
- they are capable of participating in the process without an adult
- they are capable of making their own decisions if they are a mature minor. In this circumstance you can contact your principal or regional engagement coordinator for further information.
Interventions and supports
Interventions and supports can help your child improve their learning and behaviour.
Before considering an expulsion and during the process, the school can explore and start interventions and supports. These can include:
- a student support group
- a behaviour support plan
- dispute resolution
- in-school supports and access to allied health professionals.
You are likely to know what may trigger certain behaviour in your child. This information will help the school respond and prevent issues from escalating.
You can speak to your school and get support if you are concerned about your child’s behaviour and any contributing issues.
Support your child
Signs your child needs additional support:
- excessive sleep, being unable to get to sleep or finding it difficult to get up
- use of/or increasing use of drugs or alcohol
- changes in mood, beyond what could be considered reasonable in the circumstances
- acting out, extreme anger or excessive crying
- taking less care with appearance
- withdrawing from friends, family and other networks
- a loss of interest in usual activities.
If you are worried about your child, you should seek help from:
- your GP, who can assist with a referral to mental health professional such as a psychologist and arrange for Medicare rebates
- Parentline on 13 22 89 (8am to midnight, seven days a week, every day of the year, including public holidays)
- your local council and ask for a list of local service providers (most councils operate youth counselling and pathways support).
If your child needs to talk to someone, you can encourage them to contact:
- Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week or web counselling), or
- eheadspace on 1800 650 890 or via eheadspace.org.au
For more information on mental health:
The principal must tell you their decision about whether to expel your child within two business days of the behaviour support and intervention meeting.
If your child is eight years old or younger, the secretary of the Department must approve an expulsion. This is because we recognise how important it is for very young students to be supported to stay in school. A final decision will be given within 10 business days of the behaviour support and intervention meeting. This is so the secretary has time to consider your child’s case.
While the principal is making a decision:
- It’s important that your child is supported so they remain engaged in their education.
- While a decision is being made, your child may receive a suspension. The school will give your child work so they can keep up with their learning. If the suspension is likely to be longer than a week, a teacher should be designated to provide support during the suspension. You can contact the school if this hasn’t happened.
If a decision is made not to expel your child:
- Your child will be supported so they can continue at their school.
- It’s likely that the school will invite you to attend a student support group. In this group you can work with school staff to create a behaviour support plan for your child. You can also agree on appropriate interventions. Allied health professionals like psychologists, or any other professionals who have been involved with your child, may give input.
If a decision is made to expel your child:
- You will receive a notice of expulsion from the principal. This notice will include the reasons for the expulsion and your right to appeal the decision.
- A regional engagement coordinator with the local area team and principal will contact you to talk about a transition plan.
- They will work with you and your child to understand their skills and aspirations and organise supports for this.
- Support will be provided to you and your child during the transition. We will make sure a suitable place is available at another Victorian government school or other learning setting. A successful transition will be made as soon as possible.
- Your child will also be provided with a student absence learning plan, which includes school work so that your child’s education is not disrupted.
Appeal a decision
You have a right to appeal a decision to expel your child.
The principal will give you an expulsion appeals form at the same time as the notice of expulsion. You must complete and sign the form and give it to the principal within 10 business days of receiving a notice of expulsion.
An expulsion can be appealed on the following grounds:
- There have not been significant prior intervention and strategies utilised prior to the decision to expel where the student has a history of behavioural issues.
- The grounds on which the student was expelled are considered unfair.
- The expulsion process was not followed by the principal.
- There are other extenuating circumstances.
Your appeal will go to the area executive director for consideration. They may convene a panel to consider your appeal. You and your child will be invited to attend a meeting of the panel and give your reasons for the appeal. You can also bring a support person to the review panel.
Get advice and support from the Department
You can ask to speak to a regional engagement coordinator about support for yourself or your child. Contact your nearest regional office.
You can read the expulsion information given to schools.
You can download the information on this page as a PDF or Word document: