Student Critical Incident Policy


1. This Policy sets out the principles for the University’s management of a critical incident involving a UniSA student and should be read in conjunction with the Student Critical Incident Procedure which explains the steps involved in managing a student critical incident. This Policy and Student Critical Incident Procedure form part of the University’s overall Strategic Crisis Management Framework.


2. This Policy applies to all UniSA students in Australia or overseas regardless of their mode of study. 

3.  If a critical incident involving a UniSA student occurs in a partner organisation, the critical incident policy of the partner organisation will apply. In such circumstances, the University will work closely with the partner organisation to ensure that student safety and wellbeing is paramount, and incidents are managed effectively, swiftly, and sensitively. If the partner organisation does not have a critical incident policy, this Policy will apply.


4. This Policy does not apply to non-critical incidents, or incidents covered by other University response or reporting mechanisms, including:

a. incidents that need to be managed in accordance with the University’s Emergency Response Manual and/or Emergency Response Protocols Offshore.

b. Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

c. WHS hazard/incident reporting

This policy may run in parallel to these procedures in the event of a student critical incident.


5. This Policy and the associated Student Critical Incident Procedure ensure the University meets its obligations under the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) (2021), the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, and the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000.


6. University Council is the approving authority for this Policy.
7. The Chief Academic Services Officer is responsible for organisation-wide adherence to this Policy.

Policy Principles

8. The University is committed to ensuring that each critical incident is managed effectively, sensitively and with the safety and welfare of all concerned being the priority.
9. Critical incidents will be managed in accordance with the Student Critical Incident Procedure and will recognise the complexity and uniqueness of each critical incident and the requirement for an individualised response.
10. The University understands that critical incidents may affect a student’s ability to undertake research, study or administrative requirements. The University will provide reasonable support for students and, where appropriate, the families of students who may be affected by a critical incident.
11. The University will provide specific support for international students under 18 years of age as required under the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, and the ESOS Act 2000.


12. Critical Incident is “a traumatic event, or threat of such (within or outside of Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury”[1]  to a student or group of students and requires immediate attention. A critical incident involving students may include:

a. death of a student
b. mental health crisis with risk of harm to self or others
c. other serious injury or threat of harm to student and/or staff
d. victim of crime
e. missing student [2]
f. natural disaster
g. child safety incident involving a student under the age of 18 years

13. Non-critical incident is an incident that the University provides support and assistance through other services, whether internal or external to the University. A non-critical incident is typically a minor or serious event that can be assessed and managed through early intervention by the Student Engagement Unit, Facilities Management Unit, Student & Academic Services and/or Academic Unit staff. Non-critical incidents may also be managed under other University policies, statutes, bylaws, codes or operational procedures as relevant to the incident, e.g., student misconduct, WHS incident reporting. Refer to Critical Incident Procedure for non-critical incident classifications.
14. Partner organisation is an organisation, in conjunction with whom the University offers a program of study or a component of a program of study. The organisation may be onshore or offshore, a private provider, a professional or industry association, a university, or a college.


Associated Documentation
Procedure : Student Critical Incident Procedure
Strategic Crisis Management Framework
Crisis Communications Framework
Emergency Response Manual
Emergency Response Protocols Offshore
Emergency Procedure & Quick Guides
Students at Risk Framework
Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure


Officer Responsible for Update and Review: Chief Academic Services Officer
Approving Authority: University Council
Commencement Date: 13 June 2023
Review Date: May 2028
History: This is a new policy


[1] The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, Standard 6: Student Support Services
[2] Missing student means a student who cannot be located following failed attempts to contact and/or with significant concerns for their welfare and safety, or where the University has accepted responsibility for welfare arrangements