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Procedure: Student critical incident


This procedure provides a clear process for decision-making and managing critical incidents involving students of the University in an effective, consistent, compassionate and timely manner.


Primary Contact is the person nominated by the student on the Interactive Student Information System (ISIS) as their Primary Contact and/or Emergency Contact, or where that person is unavailable, next-of-kin, family, or other person if appropriate.

Personal representative is the legal personal representative of a deceased student who may be the Primary Contact or an Executor or Administrator of the student’s estate. Contact the Legal Office where there is need for confirmation of the identity of the appropriate personal representative.


Initial response, follow-up actions, and reporting

  1. Where someone on campus is aware of a death, an immediate threat to the life of a person or a serious threat to property (such as a fire), call 000 and report the incident to Australian Federal Police or one of the emergency services. Following that, report the incident to ANU Security [(02) 6125 2249].
  2. Where a critical incident involving a student of the Australian National University is identified by an internal party (i.e., student, staff or visitor) or an external party (e.g., the Australian Federal Police), contact ANU Security [(02) 6125 2249].
  3. ANU Security notifies the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee of the Student Incidents and Support team.
  4. On notification of a student critical incident, the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee:
  1. Requests that the appropriate delegate complete the critical incident report template and submit other relevant documentation.
  2. Reviews background details of the critical incident to create a clear understanding of the known facts.
  3. Assesses the severity of the situation. Separate procedures are followed for a missing student or a deceased student.
  4. Accesses student record to verify student details, and gathers relevant information, including address, email, phone numbers, nationality, primary contact, sponsor or agent, religion, etc. Students are responsible for providing current and correct contact details.
  5. Plans and coordinates the ongoing management of the critical incident.
  6. Delegates, if required, a nominee to manage and report on the critical incident.
  7. Contacts relevant internal and external stakeholders and allocates to them roles and responsibilities, including the provision of counselling support to those directly affected by the incident. If deemed necessary, convenes a meeting of relevant stakeholders to discuss the actions taken or to be taken.
  1. Depending on the severity of the incident, the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee:
  1. Informs the Office of the Vice-Chancellor of the nature of the critical incident and of the initial response.
  2. Informs the Director, Strategic Communication and Public Affairs, in case the circumstances of the critical incident result in media attention and to assist with the development of internal communications.
  3. Informs the primary contact. However, if the incident involves the death of a student, Australian Federal Police is responsible for informing the family or next of kin.
  4. Briefs the Dean and General Manager of relevant College(s) and the Head of Residential Hall, College or Lodge to carry out the necessary internal communications.
  5. Liaises with external agencies, which may include including Access Mental Health Team, doctors, hospital, government departments, and Embassy.
  6. Notifies sponsoring agent if student sponsored.
  7. Where a student reports an incident of sexual assault and makes it known that the alleged perpetrator is a staff member, the Associate Director, Wellbeing informs the delegate of the area in which the staff member works. The delegate then refers the serious misconduct allegation to the Director, Human Resources, who may appoint an investigation officer to investigate the allegations at any point during the review of allegations.

6. Where the critical incident involves an international student, where the Primary Contact has already been informed, the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee, where appropriate:

  1. Liaises with the Embassy or Consulate to request appropriate support is provided to family overseas;
  2. Hires independent interpreters;
  3. Liaises with Academic Standards and Quality Office ( to advise Department of Home Affairs if studies are interrupted and to enter information into PRISMS. The Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee briefs relevant stakeholders throughout the management of the critical incident.
  1. The Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee manages the student critical incident to its conclusion.
  2. There can be costs associated with a student critical incident. Where the student’s personal insurance does not cover costs associated with the incident, the student and/or family need to meet those costs. In exceptional circumstances, the Vice-Chancellor may approve financial assistance to assist direct family with travel, accommodation, and other arrangements.

Missing Student

  1. When concerns about a student are reported to an academic College or to a Hall of Residence, the appropriate staff members gather information, make an initial assessment, and report on that to the Associate Director, Wellbeing.
  2. In assessing whether a student is missing, University staff cannot disclose the student’s personal information to any third party, including family or friends.
  3. If the person reporting a student as missing has serious concerns about the student’s personal and mental welfare, encourage the person to contact the Australian Federal Police.
  4. To make an initial assessment where the academic College or Residence suspects a student is missing, the appropriate staff member:
  1. Accesses the student record to verify details and to gather information, including address, email and phone numbers.
  2. Establishes whether the student has been attending classes, submitted assignments, used WATTLE, engaged with supervisor, or had recent contact with classmates, staff, and/or administrators.
  3. Confirms that the student has not applied for leave of absence or cancelled their enrolment.
  4. Confirms with ANU Security the student’s building access activity around campus.
  5. For residential students, confirms if the student has been seen in or around the residence.
  6. For international students, determines whether they are sponsored or on exchange.
  7. For an international student, requests Academic Standards and Quality Office check immigration records to see whether they have left the country.
  8. Ascertains whether the student has recently accessed services from the Counselling Centre and/or the Dean of Students.
  9. Contacts the student (University and other email address, telephone/SMS) to advise that concerns have been expressed about their personal welfare and that if they do not respond within two working days, the Associate Director, Wellbeing will be notified, as will, under the provisions of the student critical incident procedure, their Primary Contact.
  10. Summarises information, including the contact details of the person who reported the student as missing, and reports on actions to Associate Director, Wellbeing.
  1. If the student reported missing replies within two days of the initial contact from the Student Administration Manager or appropriate staff member, the student is requested to make an appointment with the College(s) to determine whether further support is required.
  2. If the student does not reply to the initial email and phone call within two days, the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee:
  1. Informs the Primary Contact and/or Emergency Contact.
  2. Requests the Australian Federal Police to do a welfare check.
  1. In the event that the Australian Federal Police confirm that the student is missing, the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee notifies:
  1. The Office of the Vice-Chancellor;
  2. College Dean;
  3. The Legal Office;
  4. Head of Hall, if appropriate;
  5. Registrar (Student Administration); and
  6. Other stakeholders, including government departments and the Embassy or Consulate.

Death of a Student

  1. Where a student dies on campus, call 000 immediately and notify the Australian Federal Police and emergency services. Following that, call ANU Security [(02) 6125 2249)].
  2. Where the Australian Federal Police or one of the emergency services identifies a student death, they contact ANU Security. ANU Security notifies the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee.
  3. The Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee assists the Australian Federal Police to confirm the identity of the student and, once confirmed, assist them and/or the Embassy with the notification of the death to the family, next of kin or Primary Contact.
  4. When notified of a student death on or off campus, the Associate Director, Wellbeing notifies:
  1. Work Environment Group, Human Resources, within four hours of being informed, for mandatory Comcare reporting.
  2. Office of the Vice-Chancellor. They send a letter of condolence, to be translated if required.
  3. Director, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs. They coordinate all external communications in the event of a student death and are consulted on internal communications going to large groups.
  4. The Legal Office. They are responsible for liaising with external agencies (e.g., AFP, Coroner), assessing external agency requests for information, acting as conduit for preparing documents for external agencies, and providing advice on privacy.
  5. The College Dean(s) and College General Manager(s). They remove the student’s name from class lists, inform relevant staff and students, coordinate all internal communications, send a letter of condolence, and determine whether it is appropriate for the student to receive a posthumous award.
  6. Relevant Head of Hall.
  7. Head, Counselling Centre. They coordinate counselling support for affected students and staff.
  8. Director, Human Resources. They provide support for staff identified as being impacted by the death.
  9. Registrar (Student Administration). They update the student record accordingly to prevent any automatic correspondence, update the record as ‘Deceased, student withdrawn from all courses’, set program status to ‘discontinued’.
  10. Finance and Business Services to ensure that automatic debtor notices are not sent.
  11. University Librarian to ensure that automatic requests for return of library materials are not sent.
  12. Information Technology Services to request that all electronic access is withdrawn.
  13. Other stakeholders in student-facing roles (e.g., Chaplaincy, student associations) who engage with students impacted by the death.
  1. Where the deceased student is a residential student, the Head of Hall:
  1. Locks down the student’s room and liaises with Australian Federal Police and/or ambulance services.
  2. Ensures all belongings are returned to the student’s personal representative.
  3. Where required and after consultation with the police, ensures that an appropriate member of staff is available to escort the personal representative to the room if they choose to collect the belongings in person.
  4. Following official confirmation from the Australian Federal Police and/or Embassy that next of kin has been informed, notifies students within the Hall of the student’s death in a sensitive manner.
  5. Identifies the students in the deceased student’s residence and friendship groups to whom the offer of support from the Counselling Centre should be made.
  6. Consults with Head of Counselling regarding the management of information to the student residential community and measures, including psychological interventions that assist with the expression of a community acknowledgement and offer to access support.
  7. Plans a memorial service, in consultation with Chaplains and consistent with the student’s religious and cultural background.
  8. Requests the Administration Manager ensure no further accommodation related correspondence is addressed to the student, to cease immediately all automated financial processes, and process all possible refunds after receiving instructions from the personal representative as to the correct account details.
  1. Where the deceased is an international student, the Associate Director, Wellbeing or nominee:
  1. Notifies Registrar (Student Administration) to inform Department of Home Affairs before reporting in PRISMS.
  2. Notifies Embassy or Consulate.
  3. Where the death is of an exchange student, the Registrar (or equivalent) of the home institution to determine the appropriate way to contact next of kin.
  4. Assists the family or personal representative to assist with funeral/repatriation arrangements, the return of personal effects, insurance, travel and accommodation, meet them on arrival, and arrange for them to meet with relevant staff and/or students.
  5. Engages ANU Chaplains or other religious clergy/representatives for funeral/memorial services in accordance with the wishes of family or their personal representative.
  1. The Office of the Vice-Chancellor has the authority to approve financial assistance to the family with travel, accommodation, and other arrangements.

Conclusion and review

23. At the conclusion of a student critical incident, the Associate Director, Wellbeing , or nominee:

  1. Arranges access to appropriate counselling support for the staff involved in the management of a student critical incident.
  2. Reviews with relevant staff involved, the management and responses to the student critical incident, with a view to identifying improvements to the procedure and to the future management of student critical incidents.
  3. Updates the critical incident report, documenting actions taken and outcomes.
  1. Annually, the Associate Director, Wellbeing reports to Academic Quality Assurance Committee on the management of student critical incidents.


Printable version (PDF)
Title Student critical incident
Document Type Procedure
Document Number ANUP_002607
Version 15
Purpose These procedures provide clear processes for decision-making and managing critical incidents involving students of the University in an effective, consistent, compassionate, and timely manner.
Audience Staff, Students
Category Academic
Topic/ SubTopic Students - Other
Effective Date 18 Dec 2017
Review Date 14 Sep 2019
Responsible Officer: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience)
Approved By: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Contact Area Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience)
Authority Privacy Act 1998
Delegations 0

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