Critical Incident

Critical incidents

As a provider of education to overseas students, the college is required by legislation to have policy and procedures, which outline the action to be taken in the event of a critical incident.  This includes initial response, follow-up, reporting, review and improvement.  The aim is to continue college operations as quickly and smoothly after a critical incident with the safety and well being of students, staff and families as the priority.

A critical incident means a traumatic event, which may cause or is likely to cause extreme physical and/or emotional distress to staff, students and other workers or visitors to the college.  Minor injuries, plumbing blockages, phone/electrical failure are not critical incidents.

Example of critical incidents may include:

  • Death, murder or suicide involving students/staff and their family members;
  • Serious traffic accidents e.g. an accident during a student field trip;
  • A sexual assault or sexual harassment
  • Major vandalism
  • Fire, explosion, bomb threat;
  • Chemical, radiation or bio-hazard spillage;
  • Direct threats of violence to staff/students;
  • A natural or other major disaster in the community
  • Major failure in internal processes e.g. discovery of a significant fraudulent activity
  • Disruption to IT technology that impacts on the ability of the college to deliver its services for an extended period of time

Initial Response

Designated Staff Member: 

Any HILC staff member who is either a witness to, or first to be informed about an actual or potential critical incident is to take responsibility for alerting the most senior staff member available as soon as possible.  The staff member may need to take temporary control of a critical incident site and assign duties to available persons (such as calling emergency services, alerting other staff, assisting with first aid, crowd control).

Critical Incident Procedure:

Designated staff member (Initial Response)

  1. Once critical incident is apparent or likely, alert the most senior staff member available (Principal, CEO)
  2. Assesses the situation and consider any apparent risk to their own safety or the safety of others.
  3. If necessary contact external authorities immediately e.g. Fire, Ambulance, Police.
  4. If no threat to personal safety, take steps to minimise further damage or injury. This may involve organising willing bystanders to provide support.

Critical Incident Team (Crisis Management)

  1. As soon as practical the Most Senior staff member completes initial incident report using incident/hazard report forms.
  2. Most senior staff member takes responsibility for re-assessing the incident and gathering Critical Incident Team.
  3. Critical Incident Team to review the situation and;
  • Set priorities
  • Allocate tasks/responsibilities
  • Coordinate an immediate response (communications to staff, students, families of those involved, helpers and the media)

Contacting Families: 

 Once death or injury has been confirmed, the initial contact with next of kin/significant others needs to be considered carefully.  What is the appropriate manner of contact? What were the correct details of the incident? What is the exact current situation?

Family and friends are a priority and may need ongoing support or referral to counselling services.

Follow-Up (Recovery)

The Critical Incident team is there to provide holistic and thorough follow-up after a critical incident has taken place.

Vice Principals are responsible for:

  • Overseeing the coordination of actions to address the critical incident
  • Coordinating and leading all prayer and ministry response to the incident
  • Leading the critical incident team
  • Liaising with CEO, Police, Families, wider community
  • Completing incident/hazard report form and all follow-up actions.

Campus Managers are responsible for:

  • Professional development of staff for prevention, preparation and response to critical incidents
  • Monitoring of staff needs throughout a critical incident response
  • Implementing any follow-up actions as requested by Principal
  • Making arrangements for visits to/from family/next of kin including arrangements for meeting at the airport and hotel reservations.

Chaplains are responsible for:

  • Determining the level of counselling/other support required
  • Liaising with relevant external support services/providers

Tutorial Leaders are responsible for:

  • Monitoring of individual students
  • Implementation of actions as required by the Critical Incident Team
  • Referring students to support services

Head Students are responsible for:

  • Monitoring of student needs throughout the critical incident response and after the incident.
  • Referring students to support personnel within the college

Finance Director is to:

  • Organise insurance matters, i.e. ambulance cover
  • In the event of student death, refund student fees as appropriate
  • Organise formal counselling and stress management interventions required for staff
  • Review legal issues including advising family of process/access to assistance if needed.

Reporting (Evaluation and Review)

It is essential that critical incidents are documented immediately.  The incident/hazard report form is the document to use.

Students involved in an incident should have a copy of the incident report form in their files.  Where student status’ has changed due to incident, this should be flagged on Collegeworx. Any subsequent correspondence to that student must be approved by Vice Principals.


 Under the Privacy Act 1988, individuals are entitled to the protection of their personal and private information.   However, the college may exercise its discretion and disclose information as necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of a student or of another person.

Risk Reduction

Once the critical incident plan and follow-up has been implemented, the vice principal ensures that this is documented in the incident/hazard report form.


  • Details of investigation (Attach sheet if necessary with additional details)
  • Describe any suggestions to avoid this incident in the future?
  • What corrective action was identified?
  • Who is responsible for completing the corrective action?

Answers to the above questions are best discussed when the critical incident team meets together to complete a final review of the incident.

The team evaluates the incident and the handling of the incident by the college in order to ascertain improvements required in future events. This may involve adjusting policies or procedures to prevent further incidents.


Documents must follow a systematic review of action taken at specific points of critical incident. 

  1. Initial Response
  2. Crisis Management
  3. Recovery
  4. Review and Evaluation