Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Risk : identifying students who pose a risk of violent behaviour


Identifying students who pose a risk of violent behaviour is no easy task, but education providers must do all that is practicable to meet their legal obligations to staff and students. Educational providers have a responsibility to obtain sufficient relevant information about the students they enrol in order to support each student in a suitable educational setting while also ensuring the safety, health and welfare of school staff and other students. Regard must be had to the impact on any enrolment decisions of state anti-discrimination legislation, the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards). While the Standards, amongst other things, require an education provider to make adjustments to ensure the participation at school of a student with a disability any adjustments made must be reasonable. Whether an adjustment is reasonable requires a consideration of a number of factors including the effects on the student, other students, staff and the school as well as a consideration of the cost of an adjustment. The Standards require the balancing of all those considerations. In the author's view, it is arguable that an adjustment that results in a breach of an employer's duties under occupational health and safety legislation is not reasonable. The author illustrates the topic with a discussion of a 2006 case, Barry Johnson vs State of NSW, also know as the 'AL case'. She then offers some strategies adopted by the NSW Dept of Education and Training to enhance its ability to deal with a student whose past violent behaviour poses a current risk to staff and students at his or her new school. [Author abstract, ed]

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