School suspensions

The rules on suspensions and expulsions are different depending on your school. This page only applies if you go to a public school in Tasmania. If you go to 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. 

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

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What is the difference between suspension, expulsion, exclusion and prohibition?

  • Suspension is when the school asks you to leave school for a short time (10 school days or less). 
  • Exclusion is when you are asked to leave school for a long time (more than 10 school days).  
  • Expulsion is when you are removed permanently from your school.
  • Prohibition is when you are removed permanently from all government schools – this means you can’t enrol in another government school in Tasmania. 

For information about exclusion, expulsion and prohibition, see our page on Expulsions.

How long can you be suspended for?

Public schools in Tasmania can suspend a student for up to 2 weeks (10 school days).

When can you be suspended?

Students can be immediately suspended for doing something that is considered ‘unacceptable behaviour’, and that threatens the health or safety of another student or teacher.

Students can also be suspended or given a detention for other unacceptable behaviour, but only if the school has followed its behaviour management policy, and the behaviour has continued. In these cases, suspension should be a last resort, and should only be used after the school has tried to resolve the student’s unacceptable behaviour. 

What sort of behaviour can you be suspended for?

Your school policies will list all the behaviour that is unacceptable, and which can lead to a suspension. It includes things like:

  • breaking school rules and policies; 
  • behaviour that is likely to affect the learning of other students;
  • behaviour that affects the health, safety or welfare of the staff, other students, or yourself (for example, fighting with another student);
  • behaviour or actions that may cause injury or harm to another person or property; 
  • behaviour that negatively affects the school’s reputation; 
  • threatening, harassing, or stalking someone;
  • discrimination; 
  • bullying or cyberbullying;
  • illegal behaviour; 
  • sexualised or unsociable behaviour (e.g. swearing).

What does the school need to do if it wants to suspend you?

Unless a student’s behaviour threatens the health or safety of others, a school should generally try to understand the issues contributing to a student’s behaviour, try and help the student, talk to the student and involve their parents or carers.

Schools should also treat a student fairly. This means they should explain to the student why they are being suspended, and give them an opportunity to tell their side of the story. They also shouldn’t be biased.

A student’s parents or carer should be told about the reasons for the suspension, and how long it will last.

What happens while you are suspended?

A school principal must arrange education for students while they are suspended. While you are at home your care is the responsibility of your parents or carer.

The Principal must also make sure that there is a process in place for students to return to school when their suspension ends. 

What if you disagree with a suspension?

You (and your parents or carer) can arrange a meeting with the school principal to talk about why you think the suspension was unfair. You can also check the school’s policies to find out how you can appeal the suspension, or ask the school what your options are. 

If you think your school has treated you unfairly or not followed the rules, you can make a complaint to the Department of Education. Remember, this might not cancel the suspension, but you will be able to let someone know about your situation. 

If you think you have been treated unfairly, or you want to appeal your suspension, you can contact us for free and confidential advice here. 

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school.

Get help and more information


If you have been suspended from school you should get independent advice about your rights as soon as possible. It’s important 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 that you might be suspended.  

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:

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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