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Prevention of violence on campus


DATE OF APPROVAL: 3 March 1997 (Council Resolution 97/1/13)

AMENDMENTS: September 1998 Revised (SMG)
August 2006 Revised (SMG)

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Director: Facilities Management Unit

CROSS REFERENCES: Disaster Management Manual; Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act (SA); Policy and Procedures for the Resolution of Student Grievances; University Statutes and By-Laws; Security on Campus policy.



This policy is part of a series relating to the general legal principle known as "duty of care". The duty of care is that duty imposed upon an employer to take the reasonable care a prudent employer would take to avoid exposing staff, students and visitors to foreseeable risk of injury. This policy will be guided by adherence to the principle that the safety of students, employees and the public will be placed ahead of protection of the University's equipment and services. This document provides guidelines for the prevention of injury and reduction of the severity of injury received through violence on campus.

Violence in the workplace can result in both physical and psychological injuries. Violent incidents at work and in the study environment can also affect the public perception of an organisation.

The strategies contained in this policy should be followed unless there is another solution available which achieves the same or a better standard of occupational health, safety and welfare. In addition, it is intended that this policy will affect and influence staff and student interaction.



The University will maintain procedures that provide guidance to members of the University community on ways in which violence and its effects can be limited within the University's environment. These procedures will be based upon existing laws and strategies developed to limit the potential of violence and, if it does occur, to arrest its development. Where the law is silent on issues about which the University has concerns, procedures will be developed and implemented in a manner that reflects University values and with a view to the safety of all people within the University environment.



Violence: any unlawful incident(s) or unlawful pattern(s) of behaviour resulting in the physical and/or psychological ill-health of staff, students and visitors. 

Examples of violence in the work and study environment include:

Security: includes Security personnel, electronic access systems, locks and keys and the provision of security services such as telephones, call boxes and security escorts.

Authorised persons: members of Senior Management Group, Divisional Pro Vice Chancellor/Dean: Whyalla, Directors/Managers of Units, Heads of Schools, Campus Facilities Managers and Security personnel, or other nominated persons, as authorised by University By-Law 2 made under the University of South Australia Act 1990.

* Rape, sexual and physical assault are criminal offences and the person assaulted will be advised to report the offence to the police.


1. Legal responsibilities

1.1    Employer responsibilities

1.1.1    Under section 19 of the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act (SA) 1986, employers have a duty of care to ensure, so far as it is reasonably practicable, that their staff are safe from injury and risk to health whilst at work.

"(1) An employer shall, in respect of each employee employed or engaged by the employer, ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that the employee is, while at work, safe from injury and risks to health and, in particular -

(a) shall provide and maintain so far as is reasonably practicable -
    (i) a safe working environment; 
    (ii) safe systems of work; 
    (iii) plant and substances in a safe condition; and
(b) shall provide adequate facilities of a prescribed kind for the welfare of employees at any workplace that is under the control and management of the employer; and
(c) shall provide such information, instruction, training and supervision as are reasonably necessary to ensure that each employee is safe from injury and risks to health".

1.1.2    Important elements of the 'reasonably practicable' steps which employers are obliged to take include the assessment of risks and the development of policies to minimise risks to the safety of staff, and development of procedures to deal with violence when it occurs.

1.2    Employee responsibilities

1.2.1    Under section 21 of the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act (SA) 1986, staff responsibilities are inter alia;

"(1) An employee shall take reasonable care -

(a) to protect his or her own health and safety at work; and
(b) to avoid adversely affecting the health or safety of any person through any act or omission at work....."

1.2.2    Some practical suggestions for staff responsibilities include:

(a) Regularly reporting to Security personnel when working in isolation; 
(b) Observing University procedures relating to after-hours access; 
(c) Keeping the home addresses of co-workers confidential; 
(d) Carrying and using (when appropriate) duress alarms; 
(e) Being aware of the location of Security Phones and Call Boxes; 
(f) Using specified "lit corridors" after hours.

1.3    Students and visitors

1.3.1    Under section 22 of the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act (SA) 1986, the duties of employers regarding third parties are, inter alia: 

"(b) to avoid adversely affecting the health or safety of any .... person (not being an employee employed or engaged by the employer.....) through an act or omission at work."

1.3.2    The University has the responsibility to protect students and visitors to campus from foreseeable harm. Students and visitors are protected by the common law duty of care.

1.3.3    When students are working in University laboratories or allocated clinical placements, the University is deemed to be aware of the attendant risks. The University is required to facilitate appropriate supervision and to be satisfied that safe work practices for these activities are in place.


2. Risk identification, assessment, prevention and response

2.1    Identification

The aim of risk identification is to determine where there is the likelihood of violence or aggression on the University of South Australia campuses and to identify in order of priority the jobs or tasks which require action to prevent the incidence of violence in the workplace by including:

(a) consultation with employees and students 
(b) direct workplace observation of work practices 
(c) analysis of reports and/or complaints of violence and the outcome 
(d) consideration of the impact of proposed change on employees and students.

This should be done with reference to paragraph 1.5 of the Safe Campus Statement. Risk identification should be undertaken on an annual basis by the Campus Security Advisory Group in collaboration with and reporting to the Director: Facilities Management Unit, followed by advice to the relevant Divisional Pro Vice Chancellor/Dean: Whyalla, Director/Managers of Units and Institute Directors.

2.2    Assessment

The aim of risk assessment is to determine:

(a) the factors that increase the risk of violence; 
(b) the relative urgency of preventative action; and 
(c) the priority for action that should be allocated for each risk. 

2.2.1    In order to determine the priority that should be set for each risk assessed, the following questions must be addressed:

(a) How likely is it that an act of violence will be committed in the workplace, given the likelihood of potential aggressors, the staff, the students, the interaction, work systems and work environment. 
(a) How severe is the likely outcome of that violence given the probable nature of the violence, work systems and work environment.

2.2.2    Staff or students who work in isolation are considered to be in the high risk category because such staff or students usually do not have automatic access to assistance and are an easier target for assault.

2.2.3    This risk assessment should be undertaken on an 'as needs' basis as identified by the Campus Security Advisory Group and reported to the Director : Facilities Management Unit.

2.3    Prevention and control

Prevention and control mechanisms concerning staff and students alike should be monitored by the relevant Divisional Pro Vice Chancellor/Dean: Whyalla, Managers of Units and Institute Directors in collaboration with the Director : Facilities Management Unit.

2.3.1    Work systems can deter violence involving staff and students by:

(a) creating an organisational culture which identifies violent behaviour as unacceptable; 
(b) modelling encouraging behaviour that is courteous and respects the rights and sensitivities of others; 
(c) providing relevant information to ensure that staff and students are aware of their rights and responsibilities under this policy; 
(d) ensuring that supervisory staff are sensitised to interpersonal conflicts amongst staff and students which are affecting work performance, while acting promptly and within legal boundaries to resolve them; 
(e) ensuring that staff and students are encouraged to raise grievances and that their concerns are dealt with fairly and constructively; 
(f) ensuring that staff and students who work alone are aware of how to access assistance; and are aware of how to contribute to their own safety at work; 
(g) taking all reasonable steps to ensure that staff and students are not alone when interacting with potentially aggressive persons; 
(h) providing appropriate early intervention when there is any anticipation of violence by or to any staff member or student; 
(i) ensuring students and staff are aware that University policies and procedures consistently encourage constructive resolution of conflict; 
(j) providing and advertising immediate response strategies, such as those referred to in section 5 hereunder. 
2.3.2 In some cases, security and electronic access systems may prevent or deter the unwanted entry of aggressors in the workplace. The responsibility for, and management and maintenance of, electronic access systems rests with the relevant Campus Facilities Manager.

2.4    Response

As an employer, the University's duty of care to its staff and students may be regarded as a composite obligation which varies from situation to situation. The response required from the University following a violent incident will therefore vary with the circumstances of each case.

If any person has displayed aggression or has threatened aggression towards staff, students or visitors, the response must be such as to afford maximum protection to all.

2.4.1    Where a threat has been made to a person or where a potentially violent incident threatens to erupt, a University staff member must alert an authorised person (for example, a member of the Senior Management Group, Divisional Pro Vice Chancellor/Dean: Whyalla, Director/Manager of Unit, Head of School) to the potential problem. Any authorised person may request that the aggressor leave and if this request is refused, the authorised person must contact Security personnel.

2.4.2    In the event that a violent incident has occurred, the strategies outlined in the following Section must be followed.

2.5    Immediate responses

2.5.1    Attention to the victim 

If, as a result of any violence, a person needs assistance, an immediate call to the Security officer should be made to obtain medical care. Quick and effective treatment of injuries should be followed by appropriate after-event support, as described in the Emergency Response section of the Disaster Management Plan.

2.5.2    Immediate removal 

Under University By-Law 7, if any person disrupts any lawful business of the University, an authorised person may ask him/her to leave the University grounds. The common law provides that authority.

If the disruptive person will not leave, Security personnel may use necessary and reasonable force to remove him/her from the University grounds. If that fails, the police must be called immediately.

2.5.3    Debriefing

Following a violent incident, debriefing will occur in accordance with the University's Disaster Management Plan, with a view to re-assessing the risks. 

2.6    Prohibition

2.6.1    Students

If the prohibited student is seen entering campus, in the first instance an authorised person may request that the student leave. If this is refused, they must contact Security personnel who should then contact the Director: Facilities Management Unit (or nominee). 

2.6.2    Other persons 

The above procedure applies equally to any other person, not being a student, who has been banned from entering any one or more campuses.

2.7    Penalties for misconduct

2.7.1    Student misconduct

Under University Statute 7, a student is guilty of misconduct if he or she behaves in a way that significantly impairs:

the reasonable freedom of other persons to pursue their studies, research, duties or lawful activities in the University or to participate in the life of the University.

Such misconduct may lead to penalties being imposed on the student, in accordance with University policy, ranging from a caution for minor offences to suspension or expulsion from the University for serious offences and the possibility of further legal action.

2.7.2    Staff misconduct

Penalties that may be imposed on staff members for alleged misconduct are described in the applicable industrial instrument and my include

Note: The penalties imposed on students and staff differ owing to the fact that penalties need to be addressed under University Statutes for Students and under the relevant industrial agreements for staff.


3. Review of the Policy

The aim of this policy is to ensure that the environment of the University remains free from disruption and violence. The Director: Facilities Management Unit should keep this policy under review.