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Emergency Management Procedure

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) Charles Darwin University has an obligation for the duty of care for all staff, students and other persons working at, studying or visiting the University to provide emergency response capability in the event of a critical incident, disaster, crisis or threat in accordance with relevant legislation and standards. The University must be prepared to respond to any emergency that may affect our people, property and/or environment. This procedure supports the health, safety and security of the University community, and aims to minimise disruption to those affected by a University emergency. It defines when University management is alerted and mobilised to provide support and direction to manage a University emergency.

(2) The University’s three-tiered Critical Incident structure and Emergency Management arrangements must be flexible enough to adapt to any type of incident and provide sufficient support to allow for sound and rapid decision-making, particularly during the response phase.

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Section 2 - Compliance

(3) This is a compliance requirement under:

  1. Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011
  2. NT Worksafe Regulations (NUL) 2011
  3. Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  4. Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA)
  5. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW)
  6. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)
  7. Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)
  8. AS/NZS 3745 Planning for Emergencies in the Facilities
  9. NT Worksafe Codes of Practice
  10. Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act)
  11. Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021
  12. Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015
  13. Incident and Investigation Procedure
  14. WHS Records Management
  15. Cyclone Management Plan
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Section 3 - Intent

(4) This procedure outlines the emergency arrangements and details the activities required for all University Campus’ in the event of an emergency. It covers the roles, responsibilities, strategies and arrangements as well as the emergency management framework and response levels.

(5) The general principles outlined in this procedure apply to all University owned, operated and leased facilities for University activities. It applies to all staff, students, affiliates, contractors, leasers and visitors on University lands. In situations where University owned property is leased to an external organisation, essential services that comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standards will be provided and maintained by the University and standard evacuation plans (including summary evacuation procedures) will be installed and provided to the tenants.

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Section 4 - Authority

(6) In accordance with AS 3745 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities during an emergency, instructions given by the operational emergency personnel shall overrule normal management structure. The purpose of these powers is to ensure that during an emergency, preservation of life and safety take precedence over asset protection and production matters.

Indemnity for Dedicated Emergency Control Organisation

(7) The members of the Incident Management Team (i.e. Critical Incident Controller, planning and response) shall be indemnified by the University against civil liability resulting from workplace emergency response assessment, education, training sessions, periodic exercises or emergency evacuation of a building where the personnel act in good faith and during their emergency control duties.

(8) During emergency situations or exercises, pending the arrival of emergency services or On-Scene Commander, ECO personnel shall have absolute authority to issue instructions to evacuate persons from buildings and/or areas.

(9) Failure to comply with a direction may place lives at greater risk and if no reasonable cause is apparent or established, a failure to comply with a reasonable direction may constitute a breach of staff or student discipline / Code of Conduct. It may also constitute an offence under WHS law.

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Section 5 - Relevant Definitions

(10) In the context of this document:

  1. Business Continuity means the planning and preparation undertaken by the University to make ensure it overcomes serious incidents or disasters and resumes its normal operations as safely and quickly as possible post incident.
  2. Critical Incident means an Incident that poses extreme risk to life, business continuity and / or reputation. It may also have implications at the local, state or national level. A “Critical Incident” is any actual or alleged event or situation that creates a significant risk of substantial or serious harm to the physical or mental health, safety or wellbeing to human life.
  3. Crisis means abnormal or unstable situation that threatens the organisation’s strategic objectives, reputation or viability.
  4. Critical Incident Controller (CIC) means University staff member appointed and responsible for the overall management of a critical or serious/dangerous emergency incident.
  5. Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) means staff appointed to direct and control the implementation of a building’s or facility's emergency response procedures. Includes Building or Floor Wardens, First Aid Officers, Security and any Deputy or back up personnel for those roles.
  6. Emergency means a significant event arising from an internal or external source, which poses a high level of risk to the health and safety of persons and requires immediate response.
  7. Emergency Management means the processes, decisions and actions taken to resolve an emergency incident and to support recovery that will enable the community to return to normality.
  8. Emergency Response Exercise (Drill) means site-specific exercise conducted to determine the effectiveness of the emergency response procedures, maintain awareness and skills. These are referred to as a “drill” in this procedure.
  9. Emergency Response Plan means a plan that the ECO and the building occupants are to enact during an emergency in a building.
  10. Evacuation Diagram means a map of the building and surrounding area that details the emergency features of the building, the escape route and assembly point.
  11. Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is a plan designed for any occupant who requires assistance during an emergency, e.g. mobility or visually impaired.
  12. Incident Management Team (IMT) means a multi-disciplined team that provides executive-level emergency and critical incident management on behalf all University locations. The IMT are delegated tasks by the CIC where required during a critical incident or event. The default IMT is identified under key roles and responsibilities, which can be tailored to each incident.
  13. Local Incident Controller (LIC) means a designated staff member responsible for the initial assessment and notification of a localised incident in University locations.
  14. On Scene Commander (OSC) means a designated staff member responsible for the initial assessment and control of a localised incident in University locations. This is the University’s Security staff (or appointed staff) who will take control of a scene and liaise with the Emergency Services.
  15. Occupant means a person who resides or is present in a building, vehicle, seat, etc., at a given time.
  16. Warden means staff nominated as responsible for facilitating a fast and efficient initial response to emergency situations within a defined area of a building.
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Section 6 - Procedures

Part A - Emergency Management Framework and Response Levels

(11) The University’s overall emergency framework acknowledges the reliance on infrastructure, people and process. The design and maintenance of University infrastructure is paired with a range of operational procedures that need to work together to enable the effective response to emergency situations.

(12) These procedures are based on the emergency lifecycle:

  1. Prevention - take actions to reduce or eliminate the likelihood or effects of an incident
  2. Preparedness - take steps before an emergency to ensure effective response and recovery such as training and simulations
  3. Response - contain, control or minimise the impacts of an incident
  4. Recovery - take steps to minimise disruption and recovery times.

(13) The emergency management framework uses a three-tiered system to define the level of emergency response:

  1. Level 3 - Critical Incident situations which are abnormal or unstable situations that threaten the University’s strategic objectives, reputation or viability.
  2. Level 2 - Major Emergency events which become more serious and require management coordination to address wider implications.
  3. Level 1 - Minor Incidents which can be managed using local resources.

(14) Most incidents and emergencies are physical in nature and involve a response from the emergency services. However, this procedure outlines organisational processes, principles and disciplines that can be applied in the case of any event which disrupts University life.

(15) The emergency management framework interacts with the University’s other incident, critical incident and business continuity plans and procedures. These are:

  1. Incident and Investigation procedure; and
  2. Business Continuity Plans for CDU and Schools and Faculties.

Part B - Incident, Emergency and Critical Incident Management Response

(16) Refer to the Incident, Emergency and Critical Incident Management Response Flowchart.

Incident Escalation Criteria

Level 3 – Critical Incident

(17) Critical Incidents and injuries or death (including pandemic disease) to staff, students and/or members of the public, including:

  1. Cyclones
  2. Lone Shooter
  3. Fire

(18) University operations critically impacted in one or more areas.

(19) Severe loss or compromise of multiple critical IT applications and data.

(20) Incident expected to bring the University into disrepute.

(21) Media are on-site.

(22) Incident requires executive staff member to make decisions.

(23) Large expenditure required to rectify and recover from incident.

level 2 – Major Incident

(24) Severe injury or illness to staff, students and / or members of the public.

(25) Trauma to staff and / or students.

(26) Major impact upon availability or integrity of critical IT applications.

(27) Media are likely to be on-site.

(28) Incident may require leadership external to School / Office to make decisions.

(29) Expenditure required to rectify the issue.

Level 1 – Minor Incident

(30) Minor injuries to staff, students or other members of the public.

(31) Potential trauma to staff and/or students.

(32) Impact to University’s IT availability with potential short-term loss.

(33) Potential for media exposure to the situation.

(34) Incident requires management by a senior staff member for decisions to be made.

(35) Expenditure may be required to rectify the issue quickly.

Routine Incident

(36) Normal day-to-day incident.

(37) Existing low-level ‘Business as Usual’ procedures sufficient to rectify issue.

(38) Incident can easily be handled by School / Faculty staff with assistance from Security, SEW, IT Help Desk, Student Services, Development & Communications or Human Resources.

(39) The Routine Incident Flowchart shows how the various operational procedures work together.

Roles and Responsibilities

(40) Emergency response requires the cooperation of staff and students from different organisational units within the University. For this reason, emergency management is embedded as a management standard within the University’s safety management system.

(41) Key roles and responsibilities for those who form part of the Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) and/or the Incident Management Team (IMT) are tabulated in Appendix 1.

(42) ECO’s are responsible for managing the initial response to an emergency. Other responsibilities include, but are not limited to, coordinating a building evacuation or the administration of first aid, until other support arrives, including Security Services and external emergency services. ECO’s will typically be required to meet on a six-monthly basis to discuss relevant matters and undertake training as required.

Requirements for ECO Exercises

(43) A minimum of one building drill per year must be conducted. A genuine emergency can count towards the number of required drills provided that the ECO are present and respond to the event.

(44) Various forms of drill are permissible, including scenarios involving fires, gas leaks, chemical spills, power failures, bomb threats, lone shooter etc. Drills must be conducted at peak building occupancy, as determined by the ECO. All ECO drills to be accompanied by a post drill debrief session.

(45) Joint drills involving two or more ECOs should be considered where emergencies from one building can have a substantial impact on adjoining or neighbouring buildings.

Emergency Response Exercises

(46) The exercises are to be arranged and scheduled by the SEW Emergency Consultant in conjunction with the University Security Team and managed by the area ECO to practice emergency management of the building, increase procedural awareness of occupants, monitor performance of the ECO and identify improvement opportunities.

Debrief Requirements

(47) Exercise debriefs will be undertaken to evaluate the quality of the response during the drill and highlight any tasks that need to be addressed. A verbal debrief to be held immediately after the evacuation exercise and a written report to be generated and disseminated to all relevant parties. The report shall be stored in the University’s relevant document management system. The report will document:

  1. attending members of the ECO;
  2. overall performance of the evacuation;
  3. identified evacuation equipment malfunction; and
  4. identified improvement opportunities.

Building Evacuation Diagrams

(48) Facilities Management to provide building evacuation diagrams to all University buildings, as per the Building Code of Australia (BCA); and to manage and ensure compliance. All evacuation diagrams are to be installed in hard plastic display frames. Evacuation diagrams will generally be displayed in entrance or foyer areas. Where this is not achievable, diagrams are to be positioned as close as possible to the foyer areas upon entries to each floor.

(49) Evacuation diagram validity date: a validity date of not more than five years applies to evacuation diagrams. These must be reviewed within this time frame to ensure accuracy and relevance to the building. Diagrams to be reviewed when any changes to the building’s interior could result in a change to egress from the building, and should be updated when:

  1. emergency information is no longer current;
  2. internal paths of travel are changed or impeded;
  3. external path to Assembly area is changed or impeded;
  4. assembly area has been changed;
  5. location and or orientation of diagram has changed; or
  6. fixed fire and emergency equipment is changed significantly.

(50) Temporary changes: an interim diagram can be placed over the existing diagram for temporary changes due to works or events. The Facilities Project Manager reporting to Director Property and Facilities will:

  1. determine the legitimacy of any temporary changes;
  2. organise interim diagrams; and
  3. communicate these changes to the ECO and the building occupants.

Incident Support to Students and Visitors

(51) In teaching environments the staff member who is responsible for all students being present is responsible for making sure the appropriate response is followed by all students in the room. In the event of an emergency, visitors to University sites and within University buildings, are the responsibility of the person they are visiting (University Escort), who should direct and help the visitor to follow the appropriate emergency response.

(52) University staff must make sure that students working within a laboratory or workshop environment are inducted in emergency procedures for that area before commencing work. Additionally, an appropriately trained warden or staff member must be available to ensure responses are followed as necessary, anytime that a laboratory or workshop is in use.

Injury / Illness Emergency Contact Notification

(53) In the event of injury or illness of on-duty University staff or students during a Critical Incident it is preferred that the affected individual notifies their nominated emergency contact in the first instance. The relevant LIC will guide casualties in this process and report on their status to the CIC and IMT. In some instances, the casualty may request that their emergency contact is not notified; the University is to respect and note such requests.

Domestic Students

(54) If the severity of the injury / illness warrants immediate medical treatment and the student is not able to notify their emergency contact then the IMT will coordinate emergency contact notification on behalf of the University in consultation with CIC. The severity of the injury / illness and the location of the emergency contact will be key considerations in determining the mode of notification. When notifying the emergency contact, the LIC shall:

  1. through liaison with medical staff, ensure the casualty’s condition is accurately understood prior to contacting the emergency contact.
  2. verify (as much as practical) the accuracy of the casualty’s emergency contact information.
  3. deliver the news in a factual but sympathetic manner whilst offering appropriate support and assistance.
  4. provide releasable information about the incident as practically and reasonably possible.
  5. provide an ongoing channel for communication between the University and the emergency contact to facilitate updates and requests for assistance.

International Students

(55) International students may contact their emergency contacts direct or request that their consulate coordinate the emergency contact notification via the student’s home country’s government arrangements. In such cases the Director International Services shall ensure the University’s POC details are provided by the respective consulate personnel to the emergency contact to facilitate subsequent liaison with the University.

Fatality Management


(56) The relevant Emergency Service’s Incident Controller will assume control of all on-scene emergency response activities. Where a person(s) has been pronounced deceased on-campus, NT Police will coordinate transportation of the deceased to coroner or mortuary facility dependent on the incident circumstances and advice from Coronial Investigation Unit. If person(s) are declared deceased at or en-route to a medical facility, the attending paramedics or hospital staff will coordinate transportation of the deceased to an appropriate facility.


(57) Fatality management practices in University transnational locations will be subject to the laws and customs of the host country. The Director International Services will engage with local police authorities to ensure fulfilment of these regulations and customs whilst also balancing the expressed desires of the deceased person’s next of kin.

International Travellers

(58) The University will work with Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) to repatriate a deceased University member. Further information on fatality management and notification overseas is provided on the DFAT website.

Post-Fatality Management

(59) Post a student fatality the administrative processes arising from the death must be considered, this includes records management and communication protocols (for notifying staff and students of the death).

(60) Staff fatality administrative processes will be managed by the Director People and Culture as required by the situation. In accordance with advice from NT WorkSafe, the University shall be required to contact the deceased staff member’s next of kin to provide relevant information.

(61) Psychological Support: the University, will provide initial and ongoing psychological support for employees affected by involvement in or exposure to a critical workplace incident.

(62) Practical Support: Re-establishing a normal routine post-incident can enhance coping abilities and restore a sense of order and control in a person’s life. Some ways Managers or Supervisors can provide support to affected individuals include:

  1. Recognise that time and space is needed for the individual to deal with a highly stressful event.
  2. Encourage them not to monitor media coverage of the relevant event.
  3. Encourage them to take care of their emotional and physical wellbeing.
  4. Emphasise participation in enjoyable activities.
  5. Acknowledge achievements and areas of improvement (even small ones).
  6. Encourage them to seek professional help if symptoms endure.

Recovery Strategy

(63) Post an emergency the goal is to restore not only the University’s physical infrastructure, but also its emotional, environmental and economic wellbeing. A site recovery strategy must be set up by the IMT in line with any local emergency services’ plan so the University and its communities can return to a proper level of functioning.

(64) Normal business operations may be affected and require activation of the University’s Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) so essential functions can be carried out or restored according to their Maximum Acceptable Outages (MAOs) in the BCP’s.

(65) Where structural or mechanical damage to equipment has occurred, normal operations cannot resume until the CIC (or their delegate) has initiated a thorough inspection by a qualified person and the incident area has been declared safe and ready to resume Business as Usual (BAU) by this person. The IMT will establish a recovery plan that includes:

  1. staff rehabilitation, rostering and welfare;
  2. student rehabilitation and welfare;
  3. reference to relevant Business Continuity Plans;
  4. repair of damaged facilities;
  5. environmental remediation in consultation with the relevant authority; and
  6. replenishment of emergency facilities, such as fire extinguishers, first aid and spill response kits and documentation.

Reporting and Investigation

(66) Following restoration of normal activities, the CIC to ensure all internal incident reports and necessary external statutory reports are initiated. A preliminary report detailing the circumstances and activation will be sent to Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors, PVCs, Heads of School and Directors. The Director Property and Facilities will conduct debriefs in conjunction with the Emergency Services and Manager SEW and will submit a comprehensive debrief report to the CIC.

(67) All reports should be completed within 28 days or the timeframe specified by external authorities. A formal investigation will consider:

  1. cause of the emergency and the contributing factors;
  2. mitigating actions taken;
  3. effectiveness of response procedures; and
  4. preventive actions and/or procedural changes required.

(68) Any recommendation for action or procedural change must be reviewed for approval/action at the subsequent meeting of the IMT. An incident report to be prepared in readiness of potential requirement by regulatory agencies.

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Section 7 - Appendix 1

Roles and Responsibilities

Role Responsibilities
Vice Chancellor Sole authorised person to declare a Campus closed and initiate evacuation of all personnel; and
Declare a Campus has reopened and recommencement of work time.
Critical Incident Controller (CIC) Oversee the University’s emergency preparedness to manage emergencies;
Appoint the appropriate senior personnel to the positions of the Incident Management Teams at each Campus and the Critical Incident Team at Casuarina Campus to ensure that during an emergency the members of the teams:

has authority to direct timely actions during the emergency;
the ability to call on resources (both internal and external) as necessary;
has appropriate financial delegations to manage the emergency within their level of control;
has skills and knowledge to mitigate the risk impact of a major disruption gained through knowledge of the University and participation in emergency management training and exercises and to commence recovery in accordance with the University’s Business Continuity Plan(s).
Endorse the Emergency Management Plan (EMP).

Continuous improvement in planned arrangements, including;

Incident debrief and After-Action reports.
Endorse timely amendments to planned arrangements as required
Local Incident Controller Provide direct support to CIC.
Ensure support for the leaders of the response and those who have been supporting others. This may involve support from the Employee Assistance Program, external agencies such as NTPOL, or Coroner’s Office.
Organise necessary relief/additional staff, support, and administrative needs.
Maintain documentation and good record keeping – Confidentiality/Privacy
Provide recovery support and advice for students/staff/parents about the normal cycle of recovery and indicators that extra support may be required.
Director Property and Facilities Building design and compliance including Evacuation Plans, Fire Alarms, Extinguisher equipment, emergency lighting and all other Building Emergency compliance issues in relation to the BCA.
Maintenance of life safety features including fire detection, compartmentalisation, emergency egress paths and occupant warning systems.
Production and installation of emergency evacuation diagrams.
Provide subject matter specialists to support Incident Management Team and liaise with essential services and contractors i.e HVAC, Engineering, electrical, plumbing.
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Management of all internal and external communications in relation to the closure or opening of all University Campuses.
Communicate return to work post incident and all updates during an incident.
Liaison with NT Department of Education and SecureNT in advance of a potential campus closure.
Manage all internal and external communications during all incidents.
SEW Team Development of standard emergency response procedures for individuals:
Embed the standard emergency response procedures for individuals within WHS induction for staff and students.
Develop standard building emergency response procedures.
Train and mentor staff appointed to positions within a building emergency control organisation (ECO).
Liaison with Disability Services (for students) and Equity and Diversity (for staff) in relation to the development of personal emergency plans.
Provide counselling and support services for staff.
Heads of School / Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor Promote the standard emergency response procedures for individuals with the staff and students within their organisational unit.
Appoint local staff to positions within building ECO, e.g. Chief Wardens, Emergency Wardens and First Aid Officers.
Allocation of sufficient time and resources for building emergency procedures to be developed and implemented.
Ensure building emergency response procedures are implemented in the buildings their staff and students occupy.
Security Security Operations are first point of management contact in the event of an emergency. During Normal working hours, the Security Operations contact will usually be the Manager Security.
Outside of normal working hours, the Security Manager remains ON-CALL.
Should Campus Security (who assume the role of the ECO after hours) require additional staff or resources to manage an emergency, they will liaise with Security who will then assess and escalate to the Incident Management Team (IMT) if required.
Provide a response to all on-site emergencies.
Provide incident management resources and work with all ECO teams as required.
Liaise with emergency services.
Request support to deal with the incident and provide technical guidance as required
Building Warden
(Deputy Building Warden)
Maintain a current register of ECO members
Find replacement ECO members when a position becomes vacant
Participate in the running of regular exercises
Communicate with the Emergency Management Team on any required changes to the Emergency Procedures for the building
Attend training and emergency exercises as required by the Emergency Management Team
Ensure personal ECO identification is available
During an Emergency
Respond and take control, as appropriate
Ascertain the nature of the emergency and implement appropriate action
Ensure that Security has been notified Ex 7777
Ensure that floor or area wardens are advised of the situation, as appropriate
If necessary, after evaluation of the situation and using all the information and resources available, initiate an action plan in accordance with the Emergency Procedures and control entry to the affected areas Monitor the progress of the evacuation and record any action taken in an incident log
Brief security and emergency services personnel upon arrival on type, scope and location of the emergency and the status of the evacuation and, thereafter, act on the senior officer’s instructions
Any other actions as considered necessary or as directed by the Emergency Services
Ensure the evacuation checklist is utilised
Floor Wardens Appointed to initiate emergency response in their immediate area. Primary responsibilities include:
Communicating with the Building Warden and acting on any instructions given
Coordinating the emergency response actions in their immediate area
Advising as soon as possible regarding incident status and action taken
Commencing evacuation processes if directed by the Building Warden or as circumstances warrant this action
Checking to ensure fire and smoke doors are properly closed
Searching floor or areas to ensure all persons are evacuated
Ensuring the orderly flow of persons
Assisting mobility-impaired persons
Notifying Building Warden that their floor has been evacuated
Acting as a guide or marshal for assembly areas
Guarding entry points to prevent re-entry to buildings until all clear is given
Providing feedback to post drill debrief session
First Aid Officers Pre-Emergency
Ensure notices are displayed near first aid kits indicating name, location and extension number of nearest first aid officer/s
Regularly check the contents of first aid kits against the list supplied, ensuring kits are stocked with sufficient supplies
Notify unit manager and the Chief Warden of any changes in employment, location or other matter which may impact on first aid duties
Attend training sessions when requested
During an Emergency
Assist the injured and render appropriate First Aid in an emergency
Remain with those injured until it is necessary to evacuate.
NTPOL Coordinate emergency response operations
Conduct initial reconnaissance of the area affected by the emergency
Enforce traffic and crowd control, and arrange evacuation if not already underway
Maintain security of evacuated areas and personal property of the deceased and injured
NTFRS The role of NTFRS is to provide fire control and hazardous materials services by:

Dealing with outbreaks of fire and the rescue of persons in fire endangered areas
Taking measures as may be practicable to prevent the outbreak of fire
Dealing with hazardous materials or a situation which involves the imminent danger of such an escape
Assist in any other response or recovery operations for which the Fire Brigades training and equipment is suitable.
Ambulance The role of the Ambulance Service is to:

Provide Ambulance transport and pre-hospital care for all injured persons
Transport designated medical teams and their equipment to sites of emergencies
Provide coordinated communications for all health services involved in emergency management response and recovery activities.
All staff, students, visitors Keep exits and exit paths clear.
Be familiar with the standard emergency response procedures for individuals.
Respond to emergencies.
Follow instructions of local emergency personnel, security and the emergency services.
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Section 8 - Non-Compliance

(69) Non-compliance with Governance Documents is considered a breach of the Code of Conduct – Staff or the Code of Conduct – Students, as applicable, and is treated seriously by the University. Reports of concerns about non-compliance will be managed in accordance with the applicable disciplinary procedures outlined in the Charles Darwin University and Union Enterprise Agreement 2022 and the Code of Conduct – Students.

(70) Complaints may be raised in accordance with the Code of Conduct – Staff and Code of Conduct - Students.

(71) All staff members have an individual responsibility to raise any suspicion, allegation or report of fraud or corruption in accordance with the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy and Whistleblower Reporting (Improper Conduct) Procedure.