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Suspensions and Expulsions


If you are under 25 and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice at Lawmail.

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.

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. 


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 do 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 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 the Victoria Education site.

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.


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.  

2. 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 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

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school

What will a suspension or 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.

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:

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.

This page was last updated on 3 March 2015

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