Purpose of this policy
- support the whole school approach to reducing drug use and associated harm
- explain how schools respond to drug related incidents
- provide support for students involved in unsanctioned drug use.
- provide all students with drug education prevention and intervention programs
- involve parents/guardians and the wider school community in drug-related curriculum and wellbeing issues
- prohibit possession, use, distribution and selling of illicit drugs and unsanctioned licit drugs on school premises or at any function or activity organised by the school
- develop or review policy to support the management of drug-related incidents
- make every effort to retain students in the education system because students are often at greater risk if disengaged from school.
- refers to policies and programs designed to reduce drug-related harm.
- aims to improve health, social and economic outcomes for both the community and the individual and encompasses a wide range of approaches.
Schools use a harm minimisation approach to review and implement school drug education programs and activities that:
- are comprehensive and evidence based
- promote a positive school climate and relationships
- are targeted to needs and contexts identified through consultation with students, staff and parents
- embed timely, developmentally appropriate drug education programs within a curriculum framework that utilises effective pedagogy.
This table lists the aims of harm minimisation.
Prevent and reduce drug related harm
- prevention through education and creating respectful and safe schools
- early intervention to prevent later harmful drug use.
Drug related incident response
- ensuring the response is well managed
- student wellbeing is paramount
- utilising partnerships with parents/caregivers and police(when necessary)
- ensuring the response does not cause any secondary harm, such as social stigmatisation, reduced self-worth and associated truancy.
Responding to drug related incidents
This table identifies immediate and subsequent responses to drug related incidents when student/s are suspected of possessing, distributing or using a drug, including being drug affected.
|Immediate response |
- focus on the safety and welfare of those directly and indirectly involved
- stay calm
- gather any:
- relevant information
- make a first aid assessment (if necessary seek medical support)
- seek assistance as soon as possible
- safely collect any suspected drugs and drug paraphernalia
- inform the school administration
- Isolate the situation from other students, if possible.
|Subsequent response when it is safe ||Follow up to:
- inform parents/guardians of students involved in incident
- notify health, community and welfare services, if appropriate
- contact the police, if required
- establish a case management team to:
- gather and verify information
- allocate tasks and roles
- document information
- develop a communication strategy
- consider interventions
- consider sanctions in line with student engagement policies
- monitor, evaluate and reflect.
Illicit drug use
This table explains the principles related to the management of illicit drug use.
Confidentiality: detoxification and pharmacotherapy treatment
Information about detoxification, methadone or alternate pharmacotherapies:
- is a private matter
- only needs to be shared between students and their:
- supporting community agency
- school designated student wellbeing staff.
- may be provided, at the principal’s discretion, only:
- with the student’s consent
- to staff who have direct responsibility for the student.
Example: If the student’s concentration or alertness may be affected by prescribed medication. Important: Students should not be excluded from attendance based on their ongoing detoxification.
|Drug testing |
The department does not support any form of drug testing in schools for teachers or students to avoid:
- raising a lack of trust between schools and students
- legal, technical, ethical and financial issues.
|Duty of care |
Teachers have a duty of care to pass on information to the principal if they have knowledge about illicit drug use by students or members of a student’s family irrespective of:
- whether the use:
- is confirmed, suspected or likely to occur
- occurs on or outside school grounds
- the drug used.
Note: Under this duty of care staff cannot promise unconditional confidentiality to students.
|Educational access during absence |
Any student who is absent from school due to drug use or the resultant treatment should be provided with a Student Absence Learning Plan as determined by teachers in consultation with:
- the school’s appointed case manager
Schools should have procedures in place for dealing with the media. Principals are responsible for media contact, supported by:
See: Media Releases within
- the regional director
- Department Media Unit (03) 8688 7776.
Principals should notify parents/guardians as soon as practicable. Note: Teachers and principals do not breach criminal law by failure to notify parents/guardians of the use of an illicit drug, but there are civil implications.
|Police ||Principals must:
See: Police and DHS Interviews within
- advise the local police contact person (station commander or sub-officer nominee) when they have knowledge of an alleged criminal offence, including the possession, use and distribution of illicit drugs
- document internal procedures and actions undertaken.
|Professional development |
Staff should be:
- informed of policies and procedures
- provided with professional development in responding to drug related incidents.
Taking prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal and use by staff or students is prohibited.
Education and Training Reform Act 2006
For information on procedures for managing a drug-related incident at school or developing a drug education policy, see:
Drug Education - Policy for Principals and School Leaders