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Inform staff – as soon as possible

Make sure your school’s emergency response team has met before you let other staff know.

Staff briefing

Some of your staff might be working remotely or at home. Think about how to include them.

Who will do what

  • Introduce members of your school’s emergency response team. Explain each person’s role.
  • Identify the staff member people should convey any new or relevant information to.
  • Let your staff know if there’s more specific support for Aboriginal staff.

Explain what happened

  • Give an overview of what happened. Include any parent or carer wishes about what information they want to be shared or withheld.
  • Do not share the details about how the student died.
  • The death should be referred to as a traumatic event when conveying information to students and the broader school community.

How to handle enquiries

  • Talk about how phone enquiries will be managed.
  • Contact staff who were absent at that time or who are on leave.
  • Talk about the importance of not asking students for information about the student’s death. Anything they hear or notice can be passed on to your school’s emergency response team.

Tasks for staff

  • Follow up all unauthorised or unexplained student absences straight away. Do this every day.
  • Go over the response plan for the day. Think about changes to responsibilities or routines. For example:
    • more staff on yard duty
    • interim arrangements to track student movement.
  • Give items of work done by the deceased student to a nominated member of your school’s emergency response team. For example, art work, assignments or journals — these will be held for police and family.

What to give staff

  • A script to follow when informing students.
  • Information about:
    • how to offer support
    • how to manage discussion about traumatic death
    • signs to watch out for
    • information on grief. 
  • Sources of support they can access for themselves.
  • The option of not being involved in supporting students or reading the statement if they feel this will put their wellbeing at risk.

What to ask staff about

Any students they think will need particular support and which students are of concern.

What they know that may be relevant. For example:

  • connections with other students
  • particular events that need to be monitored or changed
  • the deceased student’s belongings that need to be collected for the family.

Think about vulnerable staff

Ideally, individual staff members will have been spoken to ahead of the meeting if they are seen as particularly vulnerable for any reason. However, it is important to encourage all staff to access psychological support or respite whenever they need it.

How site leaders can support staff

A student’s traumatic death is a critical workplace incident. It has the potential to cause psychological injury to staff. 

To reduce this risk you need to arrange for psychological support for staff. If possible on-site and within the first 24 hours. 

  • Government schools: call Employee Psychological Services on 8226 0744. 
  • Catholic and Independent schools:  let your staff know about existing employee assistance programs for your sector.

This is a way you can make sure they have ongoing counselling support.

You should use all staff briefings in the postvention period to share and seek information. It contributes to a sense of collegiality and shared responsibility. This helps protect staff wellbeing.

Task for emergency response team and site leader

Display relevant information about roles and special procedures in the staff room. Make sure all adults who will have contact with students in the following 24 hours are briefed. For example, regular bus drivers, sports coaches, canteen staff, school support staff, out of school hours care staff, tutors or relevant volunteers.