November 16, 2016

Over 2,000 teacher-work days lost due to assaults in Queensland schools each year

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws by Queensland’s Education and Training Department show almost 1,000 Queensland teachers and principals have lodged claims for workplace assaults in the past five years, losing more than 11,000 work days to injuries.

The figures, seen by, expose the level of violence in classrooms and school yards in the state.

The Australian reports that "one teacher spent 519 days recovering from an incident in March 2014 that caused serious injuries. A month earlier, another teacher was involved in an incident with the same strain and sprain injuries and had a claim paid for 442 days.

"An assault in November 2012 left a teacher off work for 400 days while a colleague spent 318 days recovering from bruises from an assault two months ­earlier.

"Injuries range from cuts, strains and sprains to fractures, bruises, dislocations and mental health problems.

"Over the past five years, there were 33 teachers or principals who needed more than 100 days off work to recover.

"Assaults peaked in 2014-15 with 235 claims lodged, and 2855 claim days paid. There was a drop last financial year, with 167 claims lodged and 1453 claim days paid.

"Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said the trend seemed to indicate an improvement but it was difficult to make predictions.

"“Our significant concern is there are safety issues in the workplace for teachers and principals, and this has been reported through a number of national surveys,’’ he said.

"The danger includes threats of physical violence from students, parents and members of the community to teaching staff.

"“There are moves and discussions at a national level about workplace violence,’’ Mr Bates said, and the union was looking to work with the state government to develop a more comprehensive response to the issue.

"He said the issue was being recognised in Queensland through a “campaign that focuses on respect for our teachers and school staff, and that is an area the government has engaged in to try to get the message across that it is not acceptable for people to be assaulted in their workplace’’.

"He said the awareness push was similar to those being conducted in relation to doctors, nurses and ambulance officers in hospitals who had being subjected to similar spikes in assaults.

"In 2011-12, there were 203 claims lodged by teachers and principals for assault and 1990 claim days paid, with 192 claims and 1945 days paid in 2012-13.

"In 2013-14, there were 187 claims with 2826 days lost.

"Over the past five years, lia­bility has been denied in 68 of the claims."