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The rules on suspensions and expulsions are different depending on whether you go to a public government school or a private school. This page only applies if you go to a public school in Victoria. If you attend a private, independent or Catholic school please contact us here with your question.

Every Australian child has a right to education. This means your school cannot suspend or expel you without very good reasons and a clear process.  It also means your school must act fairly if they are planning on suspending or expelling you from school.  If you think you are being unfairly punished, you can appeal the decision.

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What is expulsion?

Expulsion is when you are removed from your school or from all government schools permanently. Expulsion can only be given to you as a last resort when other punishments have not worked.

What can you be expelled for?

You can be expelled for the same things that you can be suspended for (see our section on suspension above).  Usually you will only be expelled if your behaviour is so serious that suspension is not enough to deal with the situation.   Before considering expulsion, your school has to also think about alternative disciplinary measures they could use (for example, suspension).

What is the process the school has to follow to expel you?

  1. Have a meeting with you and your parents

The principal of your school has to organise a meeting (called a behaviour review conference) with you and your parents.  During the meeting, the school has to give you the opportunity to give your side of the story, and explain why they think you should be expelled.   The meeting should also explain what the school will do to make sure that you can continue your education if you are expelled.

  1. Decide whether to expel you

Within 2 days of the meeting, the principal will decide if you should be expelled or not.  When making this decision, the principal has to consider your behaviour, your educational needs, your age, any disability and your living and social situation.   The principal also has to consider any arguments or information you or your parents have given.

If the principal decides to expel you, they have to give you a notice which explains this, and tell you when the expulsion starts, and also give you information on how to appeal it.   If you are over 17 when you are expelled, the school has to give you work until you either go to another school, start work or do some other kind of training.

Can you go back to the same school after being expelled?

You can talk to your school about going back but it is highly unlikely you would be able to.

What if you disagree with the expulsion?

You can appeal a decision to expel you. You can appeal if:

  • The principal didn’t follow the correct process
  • You think the reasons were unfair
  • The school didn’t try enough other strategies before deciding to expel you
  • Other extraordinary circumstances

To appeal, you need to complete this form: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/parents/health/expulsionappealform.pdf within 10 days of receiving a notice that you have been expelled.

You have to send your appeal form within 10 school days from when you receive a notice that you have been expelled. These timelines are very strict so it’s important to do it as soon as you can.

Sometimes your appeal will be decided by one person. At other times, you may get to go to a Panel with your parents and explain your case in person.

Usually you will find out if your appeal has been granted within 15 school days. You will also be verbally told within 24 hours after the decision has been made and you will be sent a letter explaining what the decision was.  

If you win your appeal, you get to go back to school straight away, and your record will be cleared.  The school will also work with you to make a Return to School Plan.

For more information on the expulsion process, you can visit the Department of Education’s website at:  http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/participation/Pages/expulsions.aspx

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school.

What will expulsion mean for your future?

Records about expulsions have to be destroyed within a year after you’re expelled or turn 17, whichever happens later.

For more information and help

If you have been suspended or expelled from school, you should get advice about your rights as soon as possible. You need to act quickly to ensure that you minimise as much as possible any disruption or break in your education.

Please contact us here as soon as you find out so that we can advise you of what to do next.

You can also speak to a lawyer at Youth Law in Melbourne.  They provide free and confidential legal information and advice to young people up to the age of 25. Their details are:

Youth Law
Email: [email protected] 
Ph: (03) 9611 2412
Address: At Frontyard, 19 King Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Drop in (no appointments needed): 2-5 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
Skype sessions: http://youthlaw.asn.au/free-legal-advice-for-young-people/

You can also read the Victorian government’s policy on suspensions and expulsions here:
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/participation/pages/expulsions.aspx and here http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/participation/pages/suspensions.aspx

Finally, if you are finding that being out of school is very difficult and stressful and you are feeling a bit down you can call Kids Helpline or check them out here:  http://kidshelpline.com.au/teens/

The Helpline is free and you don’t have to tell them who you are. You can also call them for free on 1800 55 1800.

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