In brief - Power to issue school community safety orders will assist schools to manage risk of harm to staff and students 

Last month, the acting Premier and Minister for Education, James Merlino, introduced the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Protection of School Communities) Bill 2021 to the Victorian Parliament on behalf of the Andrews Labour Government. 

The Bill is set to provide Victorian schools with the power to ban aggressive and violent parents from entering school grounds in order to further protect both students and staff. 

Purpose and scope of school community safety orders

The Bill empowers authorised persons, such as school principals, with the ability to issue school community safety orders (orders) to parents, carers and other people who engage in harmful, threatening or abusive behaviour. 

The orders will allow schools to impose requirements on the way parents, carers or other adult members of the community interact with the school community - including stopping them from entering school grounds or other locations where school events are occurring.

The proposed new laws will also allow schools to ban parents who engage in threatening or abusive communication through social media and other channels.  

In the event that a person fails to comply with a school community safety order, an application can be made to the Magistrates' Court for an order requiring compliance, a civil penalty of up to $10,000, or any other order that the Court considers appropriate. 

However, schools must also ensure that individuals subject to the new orders are still able to communicate with the school and be informed about the child's education, and make arrangements to ensure the child's attendance at the school and school activities. 

The Bill, which will come as welcome news to many schools in Victoria, is part of a broader strategy targeting the small minority of parents, carers and other members of school communities who engage in inappropriate behaviour. 

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2021.

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