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Advise staff of relevant actions

When you regularly let staff know what’s happening it helps:

  • create calm
  • restore order.

It’s how you can keep each other informed and share responsibilities.

It’s a way to protect staff and student wellbeing. It openly demonstrates that the situation is being managed.

Staff debriefs

You should regularly debrief staff over the first week.

At each meeting you should:

  • outline the relevant actions for your school’s emergency response team
  • invite staff to share any information, concerns or observations they feel are important.

Hold debriefs before, after or instead of normal staff meetings. It should not be an agenda item for normal staff business.

Regular topics for all staff debriefs

Students of concern

Remind staff about what to look for in students. Staff should talk together about this.

  • Read information to identify students who might need help.
  • Discuss any concerns.
  • Talk about what they’ve noticed.
  • Ask questions.
  • Talk to a mental health professional.
  • Let you (the site leader) know any students they’re concerned about.

Update automated notices and messages

Update all of your distribution lists.

Remove the contact details of the bereaved family and carers.

For example:

  • SMS or texts
  • attendance reminders
  • student lists
  • roll call
  • extracurricular activities
  • sports.

Make sure information is current for TRTs (temporary relieving teachers).

Let your finance staff know. If relevant, ask them to think about:

  • School Card
  • debt recovery agencies.

Finance – Government schools only

Notify the School Card Section of the Department for Education, if needed.

If there’s a current debt, contact the department’s debt recovery team. You can talk about options for your school. Do this before you contact the family or an external debt agency. The department can also help you liaise with the Attorney-General’s Department, when and if needed.

Let staff know what’s about to change

Inform staff when you are going to remove the deceased student’s name from your lists. It’s easier for staff to cope if it’s not a surprise.

Planned activities

Ask staff to think of any upcoming events or activities you might need to change or cancel. Staff should think about:

  • curriculum, for example it might not be appropriate to feature projects, plays, research, or novels that focus on traumatic death or suicide
  • ways to encourage help-seeking activities
  • excursions or camps that feel inappropriate or are too difficult to manage safely
  • all the roles the deceased student would have played in the near future, for example sporting, academic or community events
  • events where the deceased student would be honoured (this is not to decide how to manage the situation, just to know what to plan for).

Regular topics for your school’s emergency response team

  • Plans around the day of the funeral.
  • The presence of more staff, for example mental health professionals.
  • The roles of any extra staff.
  • Media involvement.
  • What’s happening on social media.
  • Any new needs or procedures, for example reporting unexplained student absences.
  • Plans to update your school’s information systems.
  • How you will collect and document information.