Safety, Health and Injury Management and Wellbeing

Critical incident counselling procedure

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further information


  • University Emergencies - (+61 8) 6488 2222 or FREE CALL 1800 655 222 (all hrs)
  • Medical Centre - (+61 8) 6488 2118

The University is committed to providing a timely and appropriate response after a critical incident.

This includes providing counselling or debriefing to staff, students and visitors who have been exposed to a critical incident either at the University or whilst undertaking University-related business.

  1. Critical incidents
  2. Procedures
  3. Definitions

Critical incidents

Critical incidents usually occur suddenly and unexpectedly.

They include events that involve:

  • deprivation of liberty
  • severe verbal aggression
  • robbery
  • death or serious injury
  • suicide or threat of suicide
  • natural disaster such as an earthquake, flood, electrical storm
  • fire
  • bomb or hostage threat
  • explosion, gas, or chemical hazard.

People most likely to be affected include victims, witnesses and response personnel.

In many instances external agencies such as Police, Fire and Rescue or State Emergency Services may be involved in the critical incident response phase and have their own procedures for dealing with persons affected by the incident.

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  1. Staff, students or visitors involved or witnessing a critical incident should immediately contact the Security Office on (+61 8) 6488 2222 or internal extension number 2222.
  2. The Control Office Operator (Security and parking) will direct either a field officer (daytime hours) or a security officer (after hours and weekends) to attend, assess the situation and report back. When feedback is received, the Control Office Operator contacts the appropriate emergency and University staff in accordance with University Emergency Procedures.
  3. The field or security officer is then required to:
    • offer immediate assistance to persons involved in the incident, which may involve arranging medical assistance and also contact with their family or friends
    • obtain a list of names of persons directly involved inthe incident
    • document details of the incident and report to the Campus emergency co-ordinator (CEC) or Emergency response officer (ERO) on arrival.
  4. Once the Campus emergency co-ordinator arrives, he/she then assumes responsibility for controlling the recovery from the incident.
    This includes:
    • Arranging a Critical Incident Counsellor to attend the site for an evaluation of staff and students involved in the incident. Depending on the circumstances, debriefing should be held any time from immediately up until 48 hours later. The session should involve all those directly affected by or involved in the incident. Extended counselling will be made available as required.
    • Duties as outlined in the University Emergency Response Procedure.
    • Arrange a critical incident/emergency review meeting every 6 (six) months or as required.
  5. The Critical Incident Counsellors role is to:
    • support all relevant persons on site.
    • conduct the debriefing session(s) to assist those involved in dealing appropriately with the experience.
    • monitor the condition of the affected persons carefully.
    • whenever possible seek the victim's permission to engage family members and friends in the monitoring process.
    • provide a Critical Incident Debriefing Report (form following) to the UWA Safety and Health. This information is confidential and assists in the follow up to the incident.

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Critical Incident - A critical incident is an event which causes disruption to the normal functions of the university, staff and students. The event brings significant real or perceived danger or risk.

Campus Emergency Co-ordinator is the person who arranges the incident recovery. This is usually from the Security office.

Critical Incident Debriefing is a process whereby an individual or a group debriefing is conducted by an experienced counsellor or psychologist to assist persons involved to deal more effectively with their experiences. This process may commence immediately, but more likely will occur up to 48 hours after the incident. Participants are:

  • encouraged to speak freely about the experience
  • asked to provide information
  • given reassurance
  • provided with strategies for coping with the after effects of the event.

Critical Incident Counsellor is the person who facilitates the on-site debriefing. This is an experienced psychologist from the University Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Critical Incident Debriefing Report (form following) is confidential documentation of the critical incident debriefing session. This report should contain a short description of the incident, date and times of the debriefing session, names of the counsellor and attendees, any follow up required and overall review of the session.

Critical Incident Review Meeting is a post incident administrative procedure for the purpose of reviewing the incident and guide future responses to similar events.

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