Responding to Student Sexual Offending

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This policy is intended to provide information for schools about responding to:

  • allegations of student sexual assault or inappropriate sexualised behaviour in children under 10
  • misuse of internet or mobile phones in relation to child pornography and youth produced sexual imagery or “sexting”.


School staff must refer to the Department’s Responding to Identifying and Responding to Student Sexual Offending guide when responding to allegations or disclosures of student sexual offending. This guide is a detailed resource for schools providing guidelines and advice for schools about responding to allegations of student sexual offending or sexual behaviour in children under 10.  

Principals must also refer to:

  • Four Critical Actions: Responding to Student Sexual Offending
  • Responding to Suspected Student Sexual Offending: Template
  • Principal Checklist: Responding to Student Sexual Offending 

See: Department resources

Definition - sexual offending

For the purposes of this information, a sexual offence includes rape, sexual assault, indecent acts and other unwanted sexualised touching. For more detailed definitions see: the Definition section of the Identifying and Responding to Student Sexual Offending guide, see: Department resources

Duty of care obligations for school staff

School staff must take all measures that are reasonable in the circumstances to protect a student under their care from risks of injury that the staff member should reasonably have foreseen.  Schools must have in place systems to adequately supervise students in order to meet their duty of care obligations.

In the context of student to student sexual offending it is important to remember that staff have a duty of care towards all students involved, including the alleged victim, the child alleged to have engaged in the offence and any other students who may have been affected.

Incident Management and Support Unit

The Incident Management and Support Unit (IMSU) is a group of specialist staff who provide support, guidance and advice in relation to incidents that occur in school communities.

The team includes psychologists, social workers and trained staff who take incident notifications, provide initial support and guidance and referral pathways and resources to assist in the response, management and recovery of those impacted.

IMSU sits within the Incident Support Operations Centre (the ISOC) of Security and Emergency Management Division.

IMSU will:

  • take notification of the incident, record it and work with the notifier to categorise and triage severity of impact
  • disseminate the IRIS alert to relevant people
  • provide emotional support to the caller and referrals for further assistance as required
  • support regions and schools to respond to  incidents and to meet their legal obligations and duty of care responsibilities
  • assist principals and staff to manage incidents of a concerning sexual nature or those that are serious and concerning in a manner that minimises potential for adverse outcomes
  • link to additional supports within the Department and externally, if indicated
  • provide support and guidance to allied health staff as they provide place based critical incident and recovery support
  • provide psychosocial recovery advice and support.

Reponding to sexual behaviour in children under 10

Most children and young people are likely to engage in some level of age-appropriate sexual behaviour as part of their development. Sexual behaviour can present itself along a broad continuum, with research suggesting that only a small number of children and young people develop problem sexual behaviour.

Guidance on how to respond if you suspect a child under 10 years of age has engaged in concerning sexual behaviour can be found in the Sexual Behaviour in Children Under 10 Years section of the Identifying and Responding to Student Sexual Offending guide.

The Department will develop further guidance on this.

    Misuse of internet/mobile phones in relation to child pornography and sexting

    AbuseResponse required
    Child pornography and sexting Identification of child pornography is a critical incident requiring immediate reporting to:
    • Victoria Police SOCIT unit
    • Security Unit.
    Definition: Child pornography is material that:
    • is captured, transmitted or stored electronically that depicts or implies a person who is 17 years or under:
      - in a sexual pose or act
      - displaying full or partial nudity.

    Four critical actions

    There are four critical actions which must be taken if you witness an incident, receive a disclosure or form a suspicion that a student is a victim of a student sexual offending and/or a student has engaged in student sexual offending.

    These actions are:

    Stage    Description
    1 Responding to an emergency
    2Reporting to authorities
    3Contacting parents/carers
    ​4​Providing ongoing support

      For a summary of these actions, see: Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Student Sexual Offending

      Related policies

      Related legislation

      • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005
      • Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995
      • Crimes Act 1958
      • Education and Training Reform Act 2006

      Department resources

      For more information see:

      Other resources