The 2019 QTU State Conference Statement identified addressing occupational violence in schools as being key to improving teacher and principal wellbeing.
In its Occupational Violence Prevention Procedure, the department defines occupational violence as “any action, incident or behaviour that departs from reasonable conduct in which a person is threatened, harmed, injured by another person in the course of, or as a direct result of his or her work.” This covers incidents of harassment, including sexual harassment.
The procedure makes it clear that the department “has a zero-tolerance stance towards occupational violence, and responses must be evidence based, measured and preventative.” In addition, the new agreement commits the department to taking all reasonable steps to identify and address risks associated with workplace health and safety and wellbeing of staff, including promoting an environment where occupational violence is not tolerated.
For its part, the QTU is clear: violence in any form is not acceptable.
The Union strongly supports schools in using student disciplinary absences (SDAs) to manage this behaviour, maintain the good order and conduct of the school, and provide healthy and safe learning environments for students and working environments for school employees.
On occasions when members believe that the use of SDAs or other mechanisms is not sufficient to reduce an imminent risk to their health and safety, the QTU will support members by issuing directives to withdraw instruction from students or to not interact with parents until the risk to members’ wellbeing is mitigated.
QTU members do not take these actions lightly, but the Union is firm in its belief that teachers and school leaders have the right to go to work and return home in the same physical and psychological state of wellbeing in which they started the day. If this means issuing a directive to support teachers and school leaders in providing a safe place in which they can work and students can learn, then the Union will do so.
Finally, the QTU believes that any approach to violence in schools should not only focus on the physical form but should also recognise the impact of verbal abuse and online threats and violence against teachers and school leaders.
Uploaded 27 November