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Student Alcohol and Other Drugs Procedure

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Section 1 - Summary

(1) The purpose of the Procedure is to ensure, as far as practicable:

  1. That students undertake their activities unaffected by use of alcohol and other drugs;
  2. Where legal substances are used, that this occurs with responsibility and moderation;
  3. Environments free of inadvertent social pressure to use drugs or consume alcohol.

(2) The Procedure is not intended to discourage the legitimate use of prescription and 'over the counter' medication.

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Section 2 - TEQSA/ASQA/ESOS Alignment

(3) HESF: Standard 2.3 Wellbeing and Safety.

(4) Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015: 1.7 Supporting learners and providing access to support services.

(5) ESOS Act 2000 – National Code 2018: Standard 6 Student Support Services.

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Section 3 - Scope

(6) This Procedure applies to all students of Victoria University (VU).

(7) The Procedure applies on all onshore and offshore VU campuses, VU owned student residential facilities, facilities that are leased or owned by others and operated by others on behalf of the VU, and environments where VU activities are being conducted.

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Section 4 - Definitions

(8) Authorised University activity: Refers to all on-site and off-site activities that students engage in within VU, including classes, workshops, field placements and recreation activities.

(9) Drug/Substance: Includes a range of substances incorporating prescribed medications, over the counter or non-prescription medications, legal and illicit drugs. For the purposes of this Procedure the following categories of drugs are referred to:

  1. illicit drugs, e.g. heroin and cocaine;
  2. legal drugs, e.g. alcohol and tobacco;
  3. prescription medication; and,
  4. over-the-counter or non-prescription medication.

(10) Duty of Care: Is VU’s obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable harm to all individuals at the university inclusive of staff, students, contractors and visitors to VU.

(11) E-cigarettes: Are devices that heat and vaporize a liquid that is then inhaled, simulating the act of smoking. E-cigarettes can also be known as e-shisha, e-cigar, e-pipes, e-hookahs, vape pens, hookah pens and vape pipes. The liquid ingredients vary, however typically contain chemicals, including solvents and flavouring agents, and may or may not contain nicotine.

(12) Harm Minimisation: Refers to policies and programs that are designed to build safe, healthy and resilient communities through preventing, responding and reducing alcohol, tobacco and other drug-related health, social and economic harms. Refer to National Drug Strategy 2017-2026.

(13) Over the counter medication: Refers to any purchased medication that does not require a prescription.

(14) Trafficking: Trafficking is a term generally used to describe illegal trade, sale and exchange of specified quantities of drugs.

(15) University: All VU campuses and locations where VU-related activities including teaching, learning, assessment and graduation activities of VU take place.

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Section 5 - Policy

(16) Student Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy

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Section 6 - Procedures

Part A -  Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

Roles  Responsibilities
Students Not attend or participate in authorised VU activities impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs, which may place others or themselves at risk.
Encouraged to advise their Course Chair/teacher of the regular or infrequent use of any medication for the management of short term or long term illness.
Must not drive VU motor vehicles or operate machinery on VU property, when taking prescription drugs which may impair performance.
Inform their Course Chair/teacher or Security of any illegal drug activities that they are aware of that may place any member of the VU community at risk.
Where attending or hosting university functions (including social functions) where alcohol is served, act in accordance with this and other related policies to ensure their own safety, and the safety of others.
Where hosting VU functions where alcohol is served:
- act in accordance with this and other related policies (such as Student Charter Policy), to ensure their own safety, and the safety of others.
- inform the relevant managers (e.g. Head of Department, Facilities, etc.).
Encouraged to seek assistance through Student Services or a community drug and alcohol agency, in circumstances where a student may think they have an alcohol or other drug issue.
Contact Security personnel and/or a staff member to ensure an appropriate response to a drug related incident or injury.
All Staff Consistent with Duty of Care, support, encourage and assist students to seek advice and treatment for drug related issues.
When witnessing or upon being advised by students of a drug related incident or injury are responsible for notifying appropriate VU personnel including:
a. Security and/or Facilities in the event of public drug use, discarded needles/syringes, criminal activity including drug trafficking, and inappropriate or threatening behaviours by drug affected individuals.
b. First Aiders in the event of drug overdose, needle stick injuries or injury resulting from drug use.
Record any alcohol and other drug-related incidents within the VU online Incident Reporting System.
Follow the principles and practices of confidentiality with regards to knowledge of any student's alcohol or other drug use problems.

Part B -  Specific Drugs

Illicit Drugs

(17) Illicit drugs are not to be bought, sold or used in any part of VU, nor to be bought, sold or used by any student when engaged in any authorised VU activity. The same requirements apply to the extent possible, within an agency that has entered into a partnership agreement for learning, teaching or assessment of students. The exception to this is the consumption of 'illicit' drugs as part of controlled studies.

(18) Students who breach this Policy will be subject to the provisions outlined in the Student Misconduct Regulations 2019. A breach may also result in referral to police. 

Prescription/over the counter drugs

(19) Prescription or over the counter drugs may be consumed on VU premises in accordance with medical advice or as detailed with the drug packaging. Students using prescribed drugs which may affect their motor skill co- ordination (including use of equipment) should discuss this with their teaching/academic staff, to ensure that safety issues are addressed. This information will be treated in confidence in accordance with the VU’s Privacy Policy.

Part C - Tobacco / E-cigarettes

(20) VU is committed to providing students with a safe and healthy learning environment. As part of this commitment, VU is a Tobacco/Smoke-Free University.

(21) In line with the requirements of the Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) and the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines, VU includes e-cigarettes in the broad definition of smoking. As such the principles that apply to tobacco smoking apply equally to all forms of e-cigarettes.

Part D - Alcohol

(22) While alcohol may be consumed on VU premises at certain functions, such consumption is to be in accordance with any relevant licensing and other legal requirements and in a manner that reflects responsible service and consumption. VU reserves the right to declare alcohol free areas such as laboratories, workshops and classrooms used primarily for academic and teaching purposes.

(23) Where alcohol is served at designated licensed VU premises the provisions of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic) and any other relevant legislation (local, state or commonwealth) must be observed and act in accordance with regulations set by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liqour Regulation. Where alcohol is served in situations not covered by the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic) such as student events, including orientation activities, the organisational unit conducting the event is required to act in accordance with regulations set by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liqour Regulation, promote road safety and dissuade drink driving.

(24) Students who breach this Policy will be subject to the provisions outlined in the Student Misconduct Regulations 2019

(25) Students must ensure that any alcohol consumed does not affect their performance while engaged in an authorised VU activity. Particular care needs to be exercised where students drive VU vehicles or use other equipment. All students must comply with the provisions of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) in relation to alcohol and driving.

(26) VU will avoid promotional activities, including alcohol promotions conducted in co-operation with alcohol suppliers, that encourage excessive alcohol consumption or condone activities within VU that exert social pressure on students to consume alcohol. 

(27) The provision of alcohol as a gift or expression of thanks can be culturally inappropriate, and potentially harmful for many people. The provision of gifts containing alcohol is discouraged.

(28) It is recognised that students may attend official functions at VU that may involve the serving of alcoholic beverages. No student should feel obligated to consume alcohol at these functions. It is up to each individual to ensure that the consumption of alcohol is kept to appropriate limits and that appropriate standards of behaviour are maintained.

Part E - Support and Assistance

(29) Unless a student identifies themselves as having alcohol or other drug use problems, VU staff should not assume the issue is alcohol or drug related. The focus should remain on clearly identified performance or behavioural issues.

(30) Students who believe they may have an alcohol or other drug issue are encouraged to seek assistance through VU's Student Services or drug and alcohol service providers in the community.

(31) For those students experiencing problems with alcohol or other drug use, (who may have identified themselves voluntarily) a number of different types of assistance are available. These include:

  1. Self-help resource materials regarding different types of drugs and their effects, strategies for minimising harm, and a range of drug and alcohol agencies (these resources may be obtained from Student Services offices directly, the Student Services website, or VUSU Resource Centres);
  2. Referral to external advisory and counselling services (specified on the Student Services website);
  3. Education in relation to drug or alcohol use;
  4. Application for special consideration or show cause hearings, where alcohol or drug treatment or recovery may impact on their ability to fulfil study requirements, including attending class, completing exams or assessment tasks. This would require the provision of a certificate from the treating practitioner to support the student's application.

Part F - Incidents

Dealing with alcohol and drug related incidents

(32) Students may observe or be confronted by incidents involving drugs. These include the following:

  1. Persons using drugs;
  2. Persons collapsed possibly due to drug or alcohol use;
  3. Persons trafficking drugs;
  4. Persons behaving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
  5. Discarded drug related paraphernalia (syringes etc.)

(33) Depending on the circumstances students may take appropriate action while ensuring that their own safety and the safety of others is preserved. Such action includes notifying Security personnel, notifying staff to contact relevant emergency services, and/or seeking First Aid from volunteer First Aiders.

(34) Any alcohol and other drug-related incidents are to be recorded within the VU online Incident Reporting System.

Adverse effects

(35) Any student, whose behaviour is seen as disruptive or thought to be unsafe, is not permitted to attend or participate in an authorised VU activity.

(36) A student who is suspected of being adversely affected by alcohol or any other drug should be informed of concerns in terms of their behaviour, and that an assessment of their ability to engage in the authorised VU activity needs to be undertaken.

(37) When assessing a student's ability to effectively participate in an activity, the VU staff member responsible for the activity will consider if the student's behaviour is disruptive or a danger to themselves or others. If the staff member concludes that a student's behaviour is disruptive, or a danger to themselves or others, they will exclude the student from the activity and follow disciplinary procedures. In the case of student residences, the student is to be excluded from that particular location within the residence, not the premises. Duty of Care also requires the relevant staff members to offer referral to support and treatment services as per above.

Handling injecting equipment and associated paraphernalia

(38) Students and staff should avoid touching any injecting equipment and other paraphernalia that may be associated with drug use. Students and staff should report the location of injecting equipment and associated paraphernalia to Security or a staff member to ensure safe collection and disposal by appropriately trained personnel.

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Section 7 - Supporting Documents and Information

(39) Responsible Service of Alcohol Training

(40) Guidelines for the Responsible Service and Consumption of Alcohol