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Critical Incident International Students Policy

This is the current version of this document. To view historic versions of this document click the link in the main navigation (grey) bar above or contact policies@scu.edu.au for versions that expired pre August 2012.

Section 1 - Purpose and Scope

(1) This policy sets out principles and processes to be applied before, during and following a Critical Incident. It is intended to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 (as amended) and Standard 6 of the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007.

(2) Scope

  1. This policy applies to:
    1. all Southern Cross University international students, including those at collaboration locations in Australia;
    2. all Southern Cross University students Domestic and International who are on an SCU International study experience abroad e.g. an exchange semester;
    3. all Offshore Students; and
    4. all University staff, including those at Collaboration locations in Australia, that work with international students.

Section 2 - Definitions

(3) For the purposes of this Policy:

  1. Collaborating Institution
    1. means an educational provider with which Southern Cross University has established a formal partnership.
  2. Critical Incident
    1. means a traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury to a student(s) at the University. Examples include, but are not limited to, traumatic events caused by:
      • missing students;
      • severe verbal or psychological aggression;
      • death, serious injury or any threat of these;
      • accident;
      • natural disaster;
      • issues such as domestic violence, assault, and drug or alcohol substance abuse; and
      • significant interruption to the ability of a student or group to travel (as a result of environmental or socio-political issues).
    2. Non- life threatening incidents may also qualify as Critical Incidents, but trauma caused by serious academic misconduct will not be considered a Critical Incident.
  3. International Student
    1. means a student who is a citizen of another country and is studying in Australia. A student may be an onshore international student studying on campus in Australia, or a student located offshore studying by distance education.
  4. Offshore Students
    1. are students studying SCU Courses through an education provider which are located in countries other than Australia and have a formal partnership with SCU.

Section 3 - Policy Statement

(4) Subject to clauses (8) and (9), the Director, SCU International is responsible for managing Critical Incidents in accordance with this Policy, including undertaking prior risk reduction measures, responding to incidents as they occur and incident recovery. The Director, SCU International's responsibility for managing an incident does not extend to any action taken by Emergency Services personnel, or University Security if they unilaterally intervene under their own respective mandates.

(5) In managing Critical Incidents, the Director, SCU International and his or her nominated staff will:

  1. show empathy for affected parties;
  2. give priority to:
    1. responding to Critical Incidents over all other University tasks; and
    2. the interests of the affected student(s) and their immediate family; and
  3. record in writing any action taken with respect to management of a Critical Incident, including outcomes and evidence regarding whether the incident was referred to another person or agency.

(6) In managing an incident which could be a Critical Incident, the Director, SCU International has authority to:

  1. define an incident as a Critical Incident (and vice versa); and
  2. convene a Critical Incident Team with authority to discharge the University's management of the Critical Incident and its aftermath.

(7) SCU International staff may be required to assist outside of normal working hours for sustained periods in the case of a major Critical Incident.

Escalating Authority and Responsibility

(8) The Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Enterprise) may at any time during a Critical incident assume the authority and responsibility (including limitations of responsibility) ascribed to the Director, SCU International under this Policy, by notifying the Director, SCU International of his or her assumption of responsibility for a Critical Incident.

(9) The Vice Chancellor may at any time during a Critical Incident assume the authority and responsibility ascribed to:

  1. the Director, SCU International; or
  2. the Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Enterprise) if he or she has assumed responsibility in accordance with clause (8);

by notifying the relevant party of his or her assumption of responsibility for the Critical Incident.

Relationship to other University Emergency Plans

(10) Where an incident occurs on University property: and

  1. there is a real or immediate danger of injury or loss of human life and/or where there is a large impact on, or consequences for, operations of the university; or
  2. a significant coordinated response by Emergency Services organisations and high-level coordination between the University and external agencies is required;

the incident shall be immediately referred to Campus Security and then the Director, Facilities Management and Services and the University's Crisis Management Plan and Emergency Procedures shall take precedence over this Policy but only to the extent that conflicting guidance (including for authority and responsibility) is provided.

(11) Notwithstanding clause (10), international students affected by an incident referred to the Director, Facilities Management and Services under clause (10) shall continue to be provided for to the maximum extent possible under the provisions of this Policy, in consultation with the Vice Chancellor.

Risk reduction measures

(12) The Director, SCU International is responsible for ongoing risk reduction activities both on campus and at all onshore collaboration locations.

(13) SCU International staff must implement the following risk reduction measures to ensure that the occurrence and/or intensity of Critical Incidents is minimised:

  1. Education
    1. provide information sessions regarding personal safety, road rules, security, fire safety, drug and alcohol use to all new international students during orientation. Students shall also be educated about campus support services and groups that can assist and support in times of stress or crisis;
    2. provide crisis management training to staff and ensure staff read and are familiar with the ISANA: International Education Association Critical Incident Management Kit and Outbound Mobility Best Practice Guide for Australian Universities;
    3. provide pre-departure information sessions regarding personal safety, road rules, security, fire safety, drug and alcohol use to all students preparing to study overseas on an International Study Experience. Students shall also be educated about support services and groups they can access abroad that can assist and support in times of stress or crisis including support services offered by the partner institution;
  2. Participation & Building Networks
    1. encourage student participation in groups including religious & spiritual groups, multicultural community groups, women's support groups and sporting organisations;
  3. Staff Training
    1. provide relevant university staff with development programs including First Aid Certificate, The Accidental Counsellor and Mental Health First Aid to prepare them to deal with Critical Incidents; and
    2. encourage University collaboration location support staff to undertake these development programs;
  4. Emergency Contacts
    1. provide all students with information including business cards on arrival detailing emergency support and services contact numbers including 24 hour, seven days a week University emergency support contacts. A list of emergency contact information for on campus and collaboration locations is appended to this policy;
    2. provide all students traveling abroad on an international study experience the emergency contact number of the Manager Study Abroad and Exchange;
  5. Safety Profile for Programs/Destinations
    1. students intending to undertake an international study experience must comply with the advice of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in regards to safe travel to their proposed destination;
    2. before approving an international study experiences the Study abroad and Exchange Office must review the following risks in the proposed destination; Political risks, Health/disease risks, Access to treatment, Climatic risks (hot/cold, severe weather), Travel safety, local road safety, Living conditions, Security threats/situation, Accessibility to transport, food supplies etc, Local support (embassies, counselling services, host institution support).

Post-Incident Review

(14) When all affected parties have been notified and support services have been mobilised as required, and necessary practical arrangements made, the Director, SCU International must:

  1. implement a Post Incident Review of the implications of the incident for the student's(') academic studies and determine the need for alternative accommodations and a support plan as required; and
  2. review the incident and identify implications for future responses; and
  3. develop plans and recommend amendments to policy if necessary to prevent a recurrence of the incident or otherwise remedy any shortcomings in the response.

Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - Onshore Critical Incidents - Immediate Response

(15) Critical Incidents must be reported by students or staff to the Director, SCU International, at the first available opportunity, either:

  1. via the SCU Student Assistance Line 1800 732 551 (available 24 hours); or
  2. via an SCU International staff member (as available) who must immediately inform the Director, SCU International; or
  3. directly (refer Schedule 1).

(16) If an incident occurs on University property, and :

  1. there is a real or immediate danger of injury or loss of human life and/or where there is a large impact on, or consequences for, operations of the university; or
  2. a significant coordinated response by Emergency Services organisations and high-level coordination between the University and external agencies is required;

then the incident shall be immediately referred to Campus Security and then the Director, Facilities Management and Services for management under the University's Crisis Management Plan and Emergency Procedures .

(17) If an individual SCU staff member is made aware that a Critical Incident has occurred as per clause (15)b, he or she is responsible for providing an immediate and appropriate response as per the Quick Reference for Student Advisers in Critical Incidents Flowchart until the Director, SCU International receives notification of the Critical Incident. At a minimum this must include:

  1. assessing the risk to the affected student(s), others and self;
  2. taking action to make the affected student(s), staff and self safe from further harm;
  3. immediately requesting the assistance of emergency services where there is a risk of further harm to the student, or harm to the staff member;
  4. arranging medical treatment as soon as possible as required; and
  5. recording as many details of the incident and student(s) affected on the Reporting Critical Incidents Form.

(18) Upon being made aware of a suspected Critical Incident as per clause (15), the Director, SCU International shall immediately:

  1. assign the Critical Incident to a relevant International Student Adviser listed at Schedule 1 : and
  2. inform the University Media Manager (refer Schedule 1); and
  3. inform the University Executive if the incident involves:
    1. death;
    2. serious injury; or
    3. a natural disaster;

(19) If the incident involves an AusAID sponsored student, the Director, SCU International must immediately inform AusAID and all subsequent Critical Incident management must then occur:

  1. in consultation with AusAID; and
  2. in maximum accordance with this Policy to extent agreed by AusAID.

(20) The assigned International Student Adviser is empowered to act as the Critical Incident Co-ordinator.

(21) The Critical Incident Coordinator must:

  1. remain on duty until the emergency response has ended or he or she is relieved of that duty by higher authority;
  2. obtain:
    1. this Policy and Procedure;
    2. the affected student(s)' file to have relevant medical or passport information at hand; and
  3. use his or her best efforts to implement the SCU International response in accordance with this Policy and the Quick Reference for Student Advisers in Critical Incidents Flowchart; and
  4. maintain appropriate records on the University's behalf (see clause (5)c).

(22) SCU International will be the default Emergency Operations Centre should a facility be required for that purpose unless the nature of the emergency renders that unsafe or impractical in which case a venue will be decided by the Critical Incident Co-ordinator.

(23) The Director and the Critical Incident Coordinator shall discuss and agree upon the immediate response, including:

  1. the scale of the response;
  2. whether it is within the authority and competence of SCU International to respond; and
    1. if so:
      • determine the composition, including leadership, authority and reporting lines, of the Critical Incident Team required to respond effectively (see clause (25)); or
    2. if not:
      • refer the Critical Incident to the Director, Facilities Management & Services in accordance with clause (16) for management under the University's Crisis Management Plan or Emergency Management Procedures.

(24) If the Director, Facilities Management & Services (23)bcannot be immediately contacted, or does not agree to assume authority for the incident's management, the Director, SCU International must continue to use his or her best efforts to manage the Critical Incident according to this Policy and Procedures until either;

  1. the incident has ceased; or
  2. the Director, Facilities Management & Services notifies the Director, SCU International of their agreement to assume authority for the incident's management.

(25) The Critical Incident Team (CIT) may include the:

  1. Vice Chancellor;
  2. Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor;
  3. Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Enterprise);
  4. Director SCU International;
  5. International Student Adviser/s;
  6. Head of Student Support (Counselling);
  7. Legal Officer;
  8. Director, Student Services;
  9. Director Facilities Management;
  10. Manager Media relations;
  11. AusAUD representatives; and
  12. other staff as necessary.

(26) The Critical Incident Coordinator shall convene the Critical Incident Team at the earliest opportunity available opportunity (if the incident occurs outside regular business hours, the convening must occur at the next open of business).

Initial Meeting of the Critical Incident Team

(27) At the Critical Incident Team's initial meeting, the team must:

  1. determine a record keeper to record minutes of all discussion and decision making processes;
  2. establish who has authority and responsibility for the Critical Incident's management under the provisions of this Policy and Procedure;
  3. establish a clear understanding of the known facts and cultural context;
  4. establish the principal goal(s);
  5. establish a strategy to achieve the principal goal(s);
  6. plan an immediate response geared towards executing the agreed strategy;
  7. establish clear and agreed lines of reporting and authority for decision making;
  8. allocate individual roles/responsibilities for executing the immediate response; including
    1. establishing appropriate contact with next of kin/significant others;
    2. making arrangements for informing staff and students;
    3. distributing guidelines to staff about what information to give students;
    4. writing and distributing a written bulletin to staff if the matter is complex;
    5. providing briefing to SCU International staff and delegating a staff member to deal with telephone/counter inquiries;
    6. managing media/publicity;
    7. identifying those students and staff members most closely involved and therefore most at risk, including;
      • those directly involved;
      • personal friends/family of those involved;
      • others who have experienced a similar past trauma;
      • other students, staff, supervisors etc;
    8. arranging a time and place for an initial group/individual debriefing session with counsellor/s, chaplains, or religious leaders (in this session, an opportunity should be given to share the impact of the event, discuss various interpretations of the event in cultural/ethnic terms, the resulting sense of vulnerability, the experience of painful emotions and the normalization of reactions);
    9. organising a 'tasks timetable' for the next hour/s, day/s etc;
    10. planning ongoing feedback and regular meetings so that the coordinating team is continually in touch and working together;
    11. (in the case of death) contacting the Director of Student Services to put a stop on the student's record; and
    12. confirming access to emergency university funds if necessary.

Part B - Onshore Critical Incidents - Enduring Response

Critical Incident Team's Response

(28) The following medium term issues shall be considered and determined (a determination of No Action Required is permitted) at subsequent Critical Incident Team meeting(s):

  1. availability of mobile phone/s or satellite phones where applicable;
  2. notification of and liaison with sponsor/agent if applicable;
  3. arrangements for visits to/from family;
  4. liaison with police, doctors, hospital staff;
  5. hiring independent interpreters;
  6. provision of community death notices;
  7. funeral/memorial service arrangements;
  8. refund of student's fees to pay repatriation or associated expenses;
  9. obtaining or supplying a copy of the death certificate(s);
  10. treatment of personal items and affairs (household and academic);
  11. insurance matters, Overseas Student Health Coverage, ambulance cover;
  12. formal stress management interventions required for students and/or staff (release from classes, leave, rescheduled assessments or exams);
  13. liaison with academic staff or supervisors;
  14. arrangements for further debriefing sessions for groups/individuals as required;
  15. liaison with immigration if studies will be interrupted;
  16. fees issue to be resolved if student cannot continue with their studies;
  17. legal issues: helping students get access to legal assistance, right to sue etc;
  18. arrangements for further debriefing sessions for groups/individuals as required;
  19. follow up condolence letters to family;
  20. financial assistance for families of victim if residing in Australia; and
  21. roster of students for hospital visits

Part C - Onshore Collaboration Critical Incident Management - Immediate

(29) When a staff member at a collaboration location becomes aware that an international student is involved in a Critical Incident, he or she must immediately notify the most senior SCU staff member nominated at the collaboration location, who must in turn immediately inform the Southern Cross University Director, SCU International and senior staff at the collaboration location that a Critical Incident has occurred.

(30) For the purposes of clause (29), if there is no SCU staff member present at the location, the collaboration location must:

  1. nominate a suitably senior staff person to be the immediate point of contact at the institution; and
  2. notify the Director, SCU International and Director Facilities Management immediately.

(31) The individual SCU or senior staff member at a collaboration location that is made aware that a Critical Incident has occurred is responsible for implementing an immediate and appropriate response in accordance with this Policy and the Quick Reference for Student Advisers in Critical Incidents Flowchart.

(32) When necessary the SCU staff member at the collaboration, or Director, SCU International once informed by a collaboration location staff member, will follow the Procedures established for an Onshore Critical Incident at Part A - .

Part D - Offshore Collaboration Critical Incident Management - Immediate

(33) If an Offshore Student is involved in a Critical Incident while studying through an offshore Collaborating Institution, the offshore Collaborating Institution must be notified in the first instance.

(34) The Offshore Collaborating Institution will manage the situation in accordance with its emergency or critical incident management policies and procedures.

(35) At the first available opportunity, the Offshore Collaborating Institution must notify the Director, SCU International of the details of the incident for record keeping purposes.

Part E - Study Abroad Trip Or Excursion - Immediate

(36) Should a student on an SCU International excursion be involved in a Critical Incident the Manager- Study Abroad and Exchange, must be notified immediately.

(37) Upon receiving notification of a Critical Incident in accordance with clause (36), the International Student Adviser - Study Abroad and Exchange shall act in accordance with Part A - .

Part F - International Study Experience Off Shore Critical Incident - Immediate

(38) Should a student on an International Study Experience offshore be involved in a Critical Incident the Manager- Study Abroad and Exchange, must be notified immediately.

(39) Upon receiving notification of a Critical Incident in accordance with clause (36), the Manager Student Adviser - Study Abroad and Exchange shall act in accordance with Part A - .

(40) Resources 'on the ground' for assistance in the event of a crisis abroad may include Host organisation/institution staff, Other partner organisations, Local embassy or consulate, Travel insurance provider or international crisis manager, Local emergency medical services (hospitals), and/or English speaking local doctor.

Part G - All Critical Incidents - Post Incident Review

(41) Within 20 working days of the resumption of normal University duties following a Critical Incident, the University shall undertake a Post Incident Review (PIR) to identify:

  1. the cause of the Critical Incident;
  2. any action the University might take to reduce the risk of reoccurrence;
  3. ongoing support required by affected staff or students; and
  4. opportunities to improve the University Critical Incident response processes (including recommended amendments to this Policy).

(42) The PIR shall be the responsibility of the:

  1. Director, SCU International where he or she remained responsible for managing the University's response to the Critical Incident throughout; or
  2. the Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Enterprise) where he or she assumed responsibility for managing the University's response to the Critical Incident in accordance with this Policy and Procedure; or
  3. the Vice Chancellor or his or her nominee where the Vice Chancellor assumed responsibility for managing the University's response to the Critical Incident in accordance with this Policy and Procedure.

Role of the Critical Incident Team Councillor

(43) The Critical Incident Team Councillor shall:

  1. arrange for debriefing as soon as possible after the event on an individual or group basis;
  2. arrange further debriefing - one or more days after the incident group basis;
  3. follow up debriefing 2 - 6 weeks later on an individual or group basis;
  4. arrange or provide ongoing counselling long term as required; and
  5. facilitate the provision of recovery time for the Student Adviser and the Critical Incident Team members.

Section 5 - Guidelines

(44) Nil.