Violence against principals on the rise
MORE than a third of principals across Australia have experienced physical violence in the workplace, an annual study on principals’ occupational health and safety has confirmed.
Violence against principals had risen 7 per cent from 27 per cent in 2011, to 34 per cent in 2016, according to figures from the 2016 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey.
It also showed increasing workplace pressures had continued to impact negatively on the health and wellbeing of school principals.
Almost 50 per cent of the nation’s principals and deputy principals took part in
IN 2016, 44 PER CENT OF PRINCIPALS HAD RECEIVED THREATS IN THEIR WORKPLACES, WITH 34 PER CENT EXPERIENCING ACTUAL PHYSICAL VIOLENCE.
the survey, the largest of its kind in Australia.
In 2016, 44 per cent of principals had received threats in their workplaces, with 34 per cent experiencing actual physical violence.
The report showed there were statistically significant differences between sectors with Government schools (33-40 per cent) suffering a significantly higher prevalence of violence than Catholic (12-18 per cent) and Independent (7-10 per cent) schools.
In 2016, the Northern Territory (53 per cent) was significantly higher than NSW (33 per cent), VIC (29 per cent), QLD (30 per cent), and SA (36 per cent); but not that different from WA (38 per cent) TAS (39 per cent) and the ACT (48 per cent).
Department of Education director general Sharyn O’neill called for the community to get behind schools to help prevent and reduce violence.
“Teachers and principals should be able to go about their jobs feeling safe,” Ms O’neill said.
“They serve our kids, they serve our community and they shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the social issues in society.”
Ms O’neill said that there were 214 reported assaults against public school principals in 2015; and four of those were by parents, however the definition of assault used in the instance was very broad, ranging from minor incidents to serious matters requiring police attention.
“We have request-for-assistance buttons – known as ‘panic buttons’ – in about 100 public schools. All new public schools have them; when we upgrade security in schools we provide them,” she said.
Ms O’neill said that while the buttons were in about 100 schools, in the past year they were only used about four times, and there have been some false alarms as well.
“Our security team responds and calls the police in. We thank the police for their quick response times to incidents in schools,” she said.
“The issue of violence in schools is an important one [and] I think we need the whole community to get behind our schools – we all agree that violence is unacceptable and we want to minimise it happening on school grounds.”
Request-for-assistance buttons are in about 100 public schools, connecting to education security when pressed.