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Student Health Assessment and Leave Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose of Policy

(1) The purpose of this Policy is to:

  1. provide for the management of students with serious health conditions which are impacting their capacity to effectively engage with their studies, and who may need alternative processes to support their continued enrolment and success at the University;
  2. manage infrequent cases where the Student Conduct Rules are not the appropriate means of dealing with a case;
  3. provide a process for placing a student on involuntary leave if there is a reasonable belief that the student has a serious health condition that makes the student unfit to attend the University and/or continue their studies for a period of time, and/or where the student is unwilling or unable to request a leave of absence.
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Section 2 - Application and Scope

(2) This Policy applies to University of Wollongong students:

  1. attending an Australian campus;
  2. undertaking study within the virtual/online environment; or
  3. elsewhere, where the student is representing UOW. This includes during work or clinical placements, practicum and related activities, field trips, academic or sporting competitions.

(3) This Policy does not preclude or replace disciplinary action in response to criminal activity or serious violations of UOW Rules or Policies.

(4) If there is a critical incident or emergency situation, UOW Security should be contacted immediately.

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Section 3 - Policy Principles

(5) UOW is committed to providing:

  1. a safe and orderly environment free from harassment and discrimination for all members of the University community; and
  2. a supportive environment for all UOW students.

(6) Underlying the requirements, definitions and procedures of this Policy are the principles of equity, consistency, transparency and procedural fairness.

(7) The University will comply with privacy legislation and anti- discrimination legislation at all times in applying this Policy.

Note: A staff member who has witnessed or has reliable reports of a student engaging in concerning behaviour should consider discussing that behaviour with the student confidentially before deciding whether to report the student to a Designated Staff Member (DSM) under this Policy. Staff should consult with the Safe and Respectful Communities Team prior to submitting a DSM report. Staff members are urged to consult the Managing Disruptive Behaviour Fact Sheet before approaching a student about concerning behaviour. In cases of emergency or critical incidents, staff should refer to the Support for Students Policy and the Critical Incident Guidelines.
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Section 4 - Reporting and Investigating a Serious Health Condition

Reporting a Serious Health Condition

(8) When a staff member is of the reasonable belief that a student’s concerning behaviour might be the result of a serious health condition, the staff member can report these concerns to the appropriate Designated Staff Member (DSM).

(9) The Designated Staff Member will make preliminary enquiries into the student’s concerning behaviour.

(10) If the Designated Staff Member has reasonable grounds to believe the student has a serious health condition, the Designated Staff Member will make a report about the student’s behaviour to the Chief Integrity Officer using the DSM Report of concerning behaviour template. In making the report, the Designated Staff Member will provide the Chief Integrity Officer with all relevant information and evidence relating to the student.

(11) The DSM Report must be made within five days of the Designated Staff Member receiving the initial report.

(12) In determining if reasonable grounds exist, relevant considerations by the DSM include:

  1. whether the student has self-disclosed a serious health condition;
  2. the nature, seriousness and/or frequency of the concerning behaviour, including the level of impact on self and others;
  3. information received from appropriately qualified mental health or medical practitioners;
  4. the level of awareness and responsibilty demonstrated by the student as to their concerning behaviour.

(13) Where the Chief Integrity Officer is not available, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and Assurance) will appoint a nominee who is not the Designated Staff Member to carry out the functions of the Chief Integrity Officer under this Policy.

(14) The Designated Staff Member must inform the staff involved in making the initial report whether or not the Designated Staff Member will report the matter to the Chief Integrity Officer. Where the Designated Staff Member decides not to make a report to the Chief Integrity Officer, the Designated Staff Member will give all staff involved in making the initial report reasons for not making a DSM report to the Chief Integrity Officer.

(15) If, during an investigation into alleged student misconduct under the Student Conduct Rules, a Subject Coordinator, Primary Investigation Officer or Faculty Investigation Committee has reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged misconduct is related to a student’s serious health condition, the matter must be reported to a Designated Staff Member under this Policy.

(16) The Chief Integrity Officer will investigate the DSM report and decide whether further action is required as soon as possible and within 5 working days of receiving the DSM report.

(17) In the course of investigating a DSM report, the Chief Integrity Officer may seek any other information the Chief Integrity Officer deems relevant to the student’s possible serious health condition and its effect or likely effect on the student or other members of the University community.

(18) In deciding whether further action is required, the Chief Integrity Officer may seek the advice of a registered mental health professional or medical practitioner.

(19) If, based on the information available, the Chief Integrity Officer has reasonable grounds to believe that further action is required, the Chief Integrity Officer will:

  1. notify the student in writing of the investigation and ask the student to attend a meeting with the Student Health Assessment Panel (the Panel) (see clauses under heading “Notice of Meeting”); and 
  2. the Chief Integrity Officer will inform the Designated Staff Member of whether or not further action will be taken and what any further action might be.

(20) In considering any report on concerning behaviour, the Designated Staff Member, the Chief Integrity Officer and the Panel may consider previous reports of concerning behaviour by the student and the outcomes of these reports.

(21) The Chief Integrity Officer will inform the Designated Staff Member of the nature of the determination reached by the Panel as soon as practicable after the determination has been made.

(22) The Designated Staff Member will keep the staff who made were involved in making the initial report informed of the nature of the decision of the Chief Integrity Officer and the determination of the Panel.

Student Health Assessment Panel

(23) The Panel shall be convened by the Chief Integrity Officer or nominee as soon as practicable after the decision to investigate the DSM report further and before the notice of the meeting is sent to the student.

(24) The Panel shall comprise:

  1. the Chief Integrity Officer or nominee as Chair;
  2. the Student Ombudsman or nominee; and
  3. a member of staff of the University who is a registered mental health professional or medical practitioner. This person will not be required to make a diagnosis.

(25) The Panel may not include a person who:

  1. has previously treated the student for the serious health condition,
  2. is a Designated Staff Member; or
  3. is a member of the faculty in which the student is enrolled.

(26) A mix of genders must be represented on the Panel.

Notice of Meeting

(27) In the notice to the student, the Chief Integrity Officer must advise the student that the Panel has been convened.

(28) The notice will include:

  1. an outline the circumstances which led to the initial report and the DSM report being made and the nature of the reports; 
  2. an outline of the reasons for believing further action is required on the matter and summarising the basis of these reasons;
  3. a direction to the student to attend a meeting with the Panel to discuss the matter further and provide the student with the date, time and place at which the meeting is to be held;
  4. advice that the student may bring a support person to the meeting;
  5. a request that the student provide information that may be relevant to the concerning behaviour or serious health condition;
  6. advice that a registered mental health professional or medical practitioner will be in attendance, and that the registered mental health professional or medical practitioner will not be attending to diagnose a serious health condition;
  7. more than five and no more than ten days notice to respond in writing or by telephone;
  8. advice that failure to attend the meeting will result in the Chief Integrity Officer recommending to the Vice-Chancellor and President that the student immediately be suspended from all or some activities and services of the University, as appropriate.
  9. advice regarding procedures of the meeting, including that:
    1. the Panel will give the student reasonable opportunity to respond to the reports about the student’s concerning behaviour and possible serious health condition;
    2. the Panel may at any time recommend that the student take a leave of absence and offer the student information on appropriate external support services the student can access during that period of leave; and
    3. in exceptional circumstances, the Chief Integrity Officer or the Panel may modify the timeframes stipulated in this Policy.

Conduct of the Panel

(29) In conducting the Panel meeting, the Panel will:

  1. explain:
    1. the background of the matter,
    2. the purpose of the Panel; and
    3. that the student has the the opportunity to be heard, and respond to the report of the student’s concerning behaviour;
  2. permit the student to provide any additional medical or other information which they believe may assist the Panel in their determination;
  3. outline the possible outcomes of the Panel meeting;
  4. with the permission of the student, make an electronic recording of the meeting between the Panel and the student and attach to the Panel meeting file;
  5. permit the student to be assisted by a support person;
  6. permit any support person attending the meeting to provide advice to the student and, at the discretion of the Chair, permit the support person to address the Panel directly;
  7. hold its meetings in private; and
  8. keep an adequate record of the Panel meeting proceedings.

(30) The preference is for Panel decisions to be made by consensus. If this is not possible, decisions will be made by a majority.

(31) A file of all relevant documentation, including records of the Panel’s meeting, documentation provided by the student and the Panel’s decision should be created, maintained and retained.

Outcomes of Meeting with Student

(32) Following the meeting and taking into account the student’s response, the Panel will make a determination. The Panel’s determination may include:

  1. taking no further action;
  2. terminating the investigation; or
  3. making a finding, that the student does have a serious health condition which is affecting the student’s ability to progress in a course and/or make them unfit to attend the University and/or continue their studies.

(33) Where the Panel decides to take no further action it may do so on the basis the Panel reasonably believes:

  1. the student does not have a serious health condition which makes the student unfit to attend the University and/or continue their studies;
  2. the student provides satisfactory evidence that they are managing the serious health condition and that the they are unlikely to repeat the concerning behaviour that gave rise to the report; and/or
  3. that, based on additional information, the behaviour was not sufficiently serious to warrant further action.

(34) Where the Panel finds that the student does have a serious health condition which is affecting the student’s ability to progress in a course, the Panel may recommend actions including (but not limited to):

  1. receiving treatment at a counselling, psychological or health service;
  2. attending the Learning Development Unit for help with academic matters; and/or
  3. contacting the relevent Faculty Head of Students or Associate Dean about applying to reduce their academic load by withdrawing from one or more subjects without academic penalty.

(35) Where the Panel finds that the student is unfit to attend the University and/or continue their studies, the Panel may place the student on a period of involuntary leave, with conditions for the student’s return to or re-enrolment at the University. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to:

  1. receiving treatment at a counselling, psychological or health service (with information provided to the student on services they can access that are external to the University);
  2. providing evidence of the use of a prescribed medication to manage the serious health condition or the concerning behaviour that is caused by or results from that condition. Such evidence may include an ongoing assessment from a registered mental health professional or medical practitioner on the effectiveness of treatment for the serious health condition; and/or
  3. observing any other medical or behavioural directions made by the Panel; or

(36) The Panel may decide to terminate the investigation and refer the matter to a Primary Investigation Officer under the Student Conduct Rules, in accordance with section 7 of this policy.

(37) The Panel may advise the student to register with Student Accessibility and Inclusion Team (and/or other support services) so that the University can provide the student with appropriate assistance. The Panel may notify Student Accessibility and Inclusion Team.

(38) If the Panel finds the student unfit attend the University and/or continue their studies, the student may apply for a fee refund in accordance with the Fees Policy.

(39) If the student does not comply with the Panel’s recommendations in the time and manner specified in the notice to the student of the outcome of the meeting, the Panel may place the student on a period of involuntary leave, with conditions that must be met for the student’s return to or re-enrolment at the University. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to:

  1. receiving treatment at a counselling, psychological or health service (with information provided to the student on services they can access that are external to the University);
  2. providing evidence of the use of a prescribed medication to manage the serious health condition or the concerning behaviour that is caused by or results from that condition. Such evidence may include an ongoing assessment from a registered mental health professional or medical practitioner on the medication’s effectiveness; and/or
  3. observing any other medical or behavioural directions made by the Panel.

(40) If there is insufficient information for the Panel to form an opinion as to whether the student has a serious health condition that may have caused the student’s concerning behaviour or affect the student’s ability to progress in a course, the Panel may direct the student to be assessed by a registered psychologist or psychiatrist at the University’s expense. The assessor will be:

  1. selected by the University or selected by the student and approved by the University;
  2. be informed of the initial report made by staff and the DSM report so these reports can be taken into account during the assessment; and
  3. advised that the assessment must be provided to the Panel.

(41) If a student does not comply with the Panel’s direction to be assessed, the Panel may recommend to the Vice-Chancellor and President that the student be suspended from some or all of the activities and services of the University.

(42) The Chief Integrity Officer will notify the student in writing of the outcome of the meeting with the Panel and detail the reasons for the Panel’s determination as soon as possible or within five working days of the meeting between the Panel and the student. The notice to the student must outline the appeals process.

Involuntary Leave

(43) If a student is placed on involuntary leave, they will be directed to comply with certain conditions in order to return to or re-enrol at the University.

(44) Any additional conditions of involuntary leave may be stipulated in the Notice of Outcome, which will include matters such as, but not limited to:

  1. access to the University facilities and services; and/or
  2. access to University Residences.

(45) If a student is placed on involuntary leave for the remainder of a session, they may apply to withdraw from their subjects without academic penalty and may apply for a tuition fee refund in accordance with the Fees Policy.

(46) If a student is placed on a short period of involuntary leave, they may apply for academic consideration, in accordance with the Student Academic Consideration Policy.

(47) A student may be placed on involuntary leave for a maximum period of 15 months.

(48) The Chief Integrity Officer or nominee must advise the Director, Student Life and the Senior Manager, Admissions, Fees and Scholarships as soon as practicable when a student is placed on involuntary leave.

Discontinuation of Investigation

(49) If at any point in the investigation process the student applies for and is granted a leave of absence, the Chief Integrity Officer may decide to pause the investigation. However, the investigation may be recommenced if the student wishes to return to their studies.

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Section 5 - Conditions on Return to or Re-enrolment at the University

(50) A student who has been placed on a period of involuntary leave or has taken a leave of absence after a DSM report, must attend a meeting with the Panel before the end of that period of leave in order for the Panel to determine whether the student can return to or re-enrol at the University.

(51) The Panel should consider if the student has met the Panel’s conditions for the student’s return to or re-enrolment at the University (as stated in the notice to the student of the outcome of the meeting with the Panel) or any other relevant factors.

(52) Where the Panel has determined that the student is able to return to or re-enrol at the University, the Panel may require the student to meet certain conditions on their return, as deemed reasonable, including appropriate monitoring of serious health condition at relevant points of time.

(53) The Panel may monitor and review that the student has met any conditions imposed by the Panel. Students will be given the opportunity to be heard in accordance with the clauses regarding “Conduct of the Panel”.

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Section 6 - Urgency Provisions

(54) If at any point following a report about concerning behaviour, the Chief Integrity Officer or the Panel believe that the student’s behaviour constitutes a direct threat to themselves or other members of the University community, the Chief Integrity Officer may recommend that the student immediately be suspended from all or some of the activities and services of the University, in accordance with the urgency provisions in the Procedure for Managing Alleged General Misconduct by a Student.

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Section 7 - Instigation of Student Conduct Proceedings

(55) If the Chief Integrity Officer or the Panel have reasonable grounds to believe that the matter should be managed through the University’s student conduct process, the investigation will be discontinued and the matter referred to a Primary Investigation Officer, in accordance with the Procedure for Managing Alleged General Misconduct by a Student.

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Section 8 - Appeals

Appeal to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Student Life) (DVCA)

(56) A student may appeal in writing to the DVCA for a review of the Panel’s determination on any the following grounds:

  1. substantive procedural error;
  2. new and substantive information that could not be provided originally; or
  3. the merits of the Panel’s determination.

(57) An appeal by a student against the Panel’s determination must be lodged with the DVCA within 20 working days of the notice to the student of the Panel’s determination. The student must state grounds for appealing the determination and may include any new information the student believes is relevant to the appeal and could not be provided originally.

(58) The DVCA will commence the appeal process within 10 working days of the formal lodgment of the appeal and supporting documentation. All reasonable measures must be taken by the DVCA to finalise the appeal as soon as practicable.

(59) The DVCA will review all of the evidence provided by the Panel and the student, and may seek further information as necessary.

(60) Upon consideration of the appeal, the DVCA may apply the following outcomes:

  1. appeal denied and the determination of the Panel stands;
  2. appeal upheld on the basis of new and substantive information; or
  3. appeal upheld on the grounds of procedural error.

(61) If the DVCA upholds an appeal on the grounds of:

  1. new and substantive information, the DVCA will refer the matter back to the Panel for reconsideration; or
  2. a procedural error, the DVCA will determine an outcome of the matter, in accordance with the requirements of this Policy.

(62) Where the matter is referred back to the Panel for reconsideration, the Chief Integrity Officer must notify the student of the outcome of the investigation as soon as possible and within 10 working days of the matter being referred back to the Panel.

(63) In the case where the DVCA notifies of a conflict in dealing with an appeal or is otherwise unable to hear an appeal, the DVCA will nominate a substitute officer to hear the appeal.

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Section 9 - Record Keeping and Confidentiality

(64) Files relating to reports of and investigations into a student’s alleged serious health condition shall be retained and disposed of in accordance with the Records Management Policy the State Records Act 1998 and the General Retention and Disposal Authority-Higher and further education GA-47.

(65) Other than as described in this Policy, all parties involved in matters of a student’s alleged serious health condition are obliged to preserve confidentiality in accordance with the Code of Conduct - Staff, Privacy Policy and other relevant privacy legislation.

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Section 10 - Roles and Responsibilities

(66) Roles and responsibilities are as detailed in this Policy.

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Section 11 - Definitions

Word/Term
Definition (with examples if required)
Concerning behaviour
Behaviour that:
  1. physically endangers or is likely to physically endanger the student or a member of the University community; or
  2. causes or may cause any member of the University community to feel harassed or threatened; or
  3. causes or may cause significant emotional disturbance to any member of the University community; or
  4. negatively disrupts the provision of academic or general services to any member of the University community.
Designated Staff Member (DSM)
One of the following members of the University staff:
  1. Senior Executive;
  2. Pro Vice-Chancellors;
  3. Executive Deans and Deans;
  4. Head of Students;
  5. Associate Deans;
  6. Directors or equivalents;
  7. Chief Officers or equivalents;
  8. Associate Directors and Student Residence Managers and Senior Managers;
  9. Chief Information Digital Officer;
  10. Associate Director, Security;
  11. Heads of Regional and Metropolitan Campuses;
  12. Manager, UOW Education Centres;
DVCA
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Student Life)
Involuntary leave
A period of leave from the University that a student is directed by the University to take on health grounds.
Leave of absence
A period of approved leave from the University.
University community
Staff and students of the University and visitors or contractors at the University or persons elsewhere, where the student is representing the University.
Misconduct
Conduct of a student that is not Academic Misconduct, but that is otherwise in breach of:
  1. the Campus Access and Order Rules;
  2. the IT Acceptable Use Policy and/or associated IT policies;  
  3. the Code Of Practice - Work Integrated Learning (Professional Experience);
  4. the Student Conduct in Residences Policy;
  5. other University Rules, standards, codes, policies, guidelines, procedures or requirements; or
  6. Faculty and/or academic unit requirements.
Registered medical practitioner or mental health professional
A person registered with a professional body to provide a specialised medical or mental health service and/or opinion.
Serious health condition
A health condition or disability that causes or results in concerning behaviour or is of such a nature that it is repeatedly preventing the student from successfully progressing in a course in which the student is currently enrolled, and/or adversely impacts the provision of academic or general services at the University, and/or negatively impacts the safety and wellbeing of themselves or other members of the University community.
Student
A person enrolled in, or registered for a University of Wollongong course or unit of study, whether located onshore, offshore or online.
 
The University
The campuses, facilities, operations, resources, residences and services of the University of Wollongong.