03 Apr 2019
Occupational Violence – ACT National Forum
- Occupational Violence National Forum Communique (512kb)
- Occupational Violence National Forum Communique (217kb)
The purpose of the forum is to share work safety learnings across jurisdictions and collectively identify best practice strategies for supporting safe and inclusive school communities for our staff and students.
The ACT Education Directorate holds the health, safety and wellbeing of its workforce and of its students at the core of its education and school improvement agenda. In August 2016, the Directorate commenced work to identify and treat risks associated with occupational violence in ACT public schools.
The Education Directorate and the Australian Education Union ACT formed a joint working group to progress a program of agreed work. Products from this collaboration included an Occupational Violence Management Policy and Plan, support documents and products for use in schools and classrooms throughout the ACT Public School system.
The Broader Program of Work Included:
- training for all principals and school-based staff on work health and safety and due diligence;
- School and school network level discussions about work health and safety at staff meetings;
- a due diligence audit of work health and safety in schools was undertaken by Health and Safety professionals from the Work Safety team in the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.
- The audit made recommendations regarding training; consultation; mentoring; reporting; training records; risk assessments and registers; support services; and policies and procedures.
- These recommendations were implemented;
- streamlining operations to ensure a co-ordinated approach to support injured staff;
- a review of risk management processes to ensure work health and safety professionals work closely with schools and the Directorate’s specialist educators and/or allied health team to provide contemporary risk assessments and associated controls;
- an independent assessment of the systems to mitigate the risks of occupational violence focused on the requirements of a systems approach for the prevention of physical and psychological injury to Principals, teachers and Learning Support Assistants arising from incidents of occupational violence within ACT schools.
- This report recommended further training for staff working with students with complex needs, work health and safety risk assessment process and student case management approach, improving data capture for occupational violence incidents, develop closer working relationships with Universities to ensure pre-educators and early educators are provided placements and support to teach students with complex needs. The four main recommendations of the review were accepted in April 2017.
- The recommendations from this review are well advanced in their implementation.
- Staff consultation on the proposed draft occupational violence policy and plan which was then launched in July 2017.
- A suite of tools and initiatives complemented the policy and were developed to enhance the management of Occupational Violence.
- Tools include: posters and email banners, risk assessment tools and a renewed intranet page on Occupational Violence Management;
- training learning support assistants through whole-school professional learning or through targeted learning support assistant sessions;
- the ACT Government provided $0.9 million in the 2017-18 Budget for additional work health and safety staff resources to support schools to implement changes to practice and better manage this risk; in December 2017, the Directorate implemented an initial pilot training program with 14 Learning Support Assistants that enabled the participants to build their capability to work with students, particularly those with complex needs and challenging behaviour;
- All schools have participated in occupational violence training;
- the ACT Government has provided $5.6 million over the forward estimates to support the enhancement and development of sensory spaces into schools where staff are able to support students with complex needs and challenging behaviour to manage their sensory needs; and as part of the Schools for All Program, the Directorate focussed on ongoing capability development of the workforce concentrating on responding to students with complex needs and challenging behaviour.
In 2016/17, there was a cluster of incidents at our schools, mostly involving children with complex needs and challenging behaviours. This prompted investigations by WorkSafe ACT and during the implementation phase relating to the above action, WorkSafe ACT issued the Directorate with an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) on behalf of the Territory. The requirements of the EU are outlined in three strategies.
- Strategy 1 – Fully implement the Education Directorate’s Occupational Violence Policy and Management Plan
- Strategy 2 – Share learnings and resources with other Education jurisdictions within Australia.
- Strategy 3 – Work in partnership with the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association to hold a series of workshops relating to building safe communities for learning.
This work recognises that everyone has the right to feel safe at work and those who work in schools are no exception.
- ACT Managing Occupational Violence Policy
- ACT Occupational Violence Management Plan
- Safe and Supportive School Policy
- Enforceable Undertaking
- Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Surveys
- Understanding and Preventing Violence Against Teachers (Research)
- Principal’s Stress: tensions between the requirements of the disability discrimination legislation and the governance of inclusion in schools (Research)
- Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (ILO Reports)