Purpose of this policy
To clarify that teachers and other school employees are protected against:
- legal proceedings for personal injuries brought by a student through their parents/guardians;
- the cost of legal representation in relation to such claims.
Legal proceedings concerning personal injuries of students are usually brought against the responsible authority (i.e. the Department) rather than an individual teacher or staff member. Even in the unlikely event that a teacher is named as a defendant in a claim, any costs and damages will generally be paid by the Department.
Only in the most exceptional circumstances, will the State not provide legal representation or pay costs or damages. Most exceptional circumstances are when the:
- teacher was drunk or under the influence of illicit drugs, or
- the behaviour:
- could only be described as outrageous
- was entirely unrelated to the employment
- would implicate the teacher in a serious criminal offence.
If a student alleges that a personal injury was caused by the state of the school premises (i.e. that a broken arm from a monkey bar fall could have been prevented by deeper tanbark) the legal proceedings are brought against the “occupier” of the school. Any legal proceedings which concern occupiers’ liability are brought against the State of Victoria rather than against an individual staff member.
“Occupier” is a technical legal term and refers to the party who controls the premises, rather than the person who physically occupies it.