School suspensions

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

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 suspension?

Suspension is when the school asks you to leave school for a short time.

What can you be suspended for?

You can be suspended for:

  • behaving in a way that’s dangerous to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  • Causing significant damage to property
  • Try to steal or steal something
  • Are found with, or use or help another person use illegal drugs or weapons; or
  • Disobeying a teacher or principal to that you pose a danger to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  • Constantly humiliate, vilify or degrade another student or staff member based on their age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, religion and other characteristics.   
  • Constantly behaving in an unproductive way which disturbs the learning of other students.

You can be suspended for things that you while travelling to school or involved in a school activity off school campus.

How long can you be suspended for?

Usually, you can only be suspended for up to 5 school days at any one time.   The school must provide you with appropriate school work while you are suspended.  You can be suspended into the next term in some cases if the principal thinks it won’t disrupt your learning.

What rules should the school follow if they want to suspend you?

In most cases, before you are suspended, the Principal must:

  • Ensure you’ve had the chance to tell your side of the story
  • Take into account any documents or information you or your parents have given the school
  • Consider other options that are not as serious as suspension that could be used to deal with your behaviour.
  • Tell you verbally or in person that you will be suspended and for how long
  • Give you contact details of support services (like a counsellor) you can talk to.
  • Give you and your parents a copy of the suspension notice and suspension procedures

If you’ve been suspended for more than 3 days, give you a learning plan for how you should do work while you are suspended

In very serious cases, the principal can suspend you immediately if  you are putting the safety of teachers, other students or yourself at serious risk.

The Principal of your school must also decide to hold a meeting with you, your parents and others to talk about your behaviour. This usually only happens if you or your parents ask for a meeting, or if you have been suspended for more five days or multiple times in the year.

For more information on the suspension process, visit:

What if you disagree with the suspension?

Unfortunately you can’t appeal a suspension.  If you think that the suspension is unfair, you should ask your parents to speak to the principal.  If you think the Principal isn’t dealing with the issue properly, you can contact the local regional office for your school. You can find out more about how to do this here:

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school.

What will a suspension 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:

You can also read the Victorian government’s policy on suspensions and expulsions here: and here

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:

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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