This procedure is made under the Student Support and Engagement Policy.


The procedure applies to all international students enrolled at the University of Melbourne. It provides details on the action to be taken and the follow up required to support the safety and wellbeing of international students involved in a critical incident, and the recording of particulars of the incident.


1. Prevention and awareness

1.1.    In the event of a critical incident, staff will act in accordance with:

1.2.    Student Support Services (SSS), Health Services and Safer Communities will develop and maintain measures and programs to increase awareness of health and safety matters.

1.3.    SSS will develop, maintain and review processes for responding to or/and following up on critical incidents.

2. Serious injury, illness, trauma or death of a student

2.1.    Staff who are aware of an international student who may be seriously injured, suffering from serious illness or involved in a traumatic event must notify SSS immediately.

2.2.    Staff who are concerned about the wellbeing of a student (e.g. the student is absent from classes for two or more weeks without explanation or the student does not respond to attempts to establish contact) must notify SSS immediately.

2.3.    SSS will coordinate the response and follow up to a critical incident. Actions taken by SSS will be determined by the urgency and severity of the incident and may include:

  • establishing contact with the student, which may include a home or hospital visit, and offer appropriate support
  • informing relevant stakeholders within the University (e.g. student centre managers, graduate research managers, Academic Registrar) of students who are involved in an incident
  • seeking assistance from relevant departments within the University, including faculties, graduate schools and student services
  • offering support to students’ next of kin or other close friends, which may include visa advice, airport reception, temporary accommodation or interpreter services
  • liaising with external stakeholders where appropriate and permitted by privacy regulations, including medical services, hospitals, law enforcement and government agencies, sponsors or scholarship providers and friends of the student, funeral homes and health insurance providers.

2.4.    Where an international study abroad or exchange student is involved in a critical incident, Melbourne Global Mobility will notify the student’s home institution where appropriate and permitted by privacy regulations.

3. Natural disaster and major political upheaval

3.1.    SSS is the designated contact for communication with students affected by a natural disaster or major political upheaval and will offer support to affected students and keep relevant University staff informed about these events.

4. Wellbeing and safety of staff

4.1.    SSS will contact the University Counselling Service to arrange a debrief meeting for staff following a critical incident, if required.  It is important that the wellbeing of the people directly involved in the incident and the staff involved in the response plan continue to be monitored.  Supervisors may need to arrange additional support for staff as appropriate. 

5. Student privacy

5.1.    Students’ right to the privacy of their personal information is protected. Please refer to the Privacy Policy for further information.

5.2.    Student information may be shared amongst relevant University and external agencies under circumstances as needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the student and other members of the University and the wider community – see Student Support Procedure and Student Support Guidelines.

6. Critical incident register

6.1.    SSS will keep records of critical incidents and the actions taken.

7. Review

7.1.    SSS will identify changes to the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 that may impact this procedure.

7.2.    SSS will undertake a review following each critical incident to evaluate how the critical incident was managed, learn from the experience and make recommendations to update University policies, procedures and practices as required.



Term Definition
critical incident

Defined by the National Code as a “traumatic event or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury”. Critical incidents could include, but are not limited to:

  • death, serious injury or any threat of these
  • a missing student
  • severe verbal or psychological aggression
  • involvement in or witnessing violence, sexual assault, drug or alcohol abuse,
  • perpetrator of, involvement in or witnessing a criminal offence
  • detention by a law enforcing agency  
  • natural disaster within Australia or the student’s home country
  • major health concern including acute mental health incident
international student A student enrolled at the University and the holder of a temporary or provisional visa.


The Academic Registrar is responsible for the development, compliance monitoring and review of this procedure and any associated guidelines.


The Manager, Student Support Services is responsible for the promulgation and implementation of this procedure in accordance with the scope outlined above. Enquiries about interpretation of this procedure should be directed to the implementation officer.


This procedure is to be reviewed by 30 June 2016.


Version Approved By Approval Date Effective Date Sections Modified
1 Provost 27 Jul 2013 27 Jul 2013 N/A
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