Warrnambool College in south-west Victoria is in a dispute between WorkSafe and the Victorian Department of Education over the safety of its teachers. 

Reports say that the disagreement centres on a WorkSafe directive for the school to employ a mental health worker to support staff facing significant abuse and harassment.

WorkSafe issued an improvement notice last year, stating that staff at Warrnambool College are at risk of psychological injury due to frequent violent and sexist attacks by students. 

Some staff members have allegedly reported being threatened and having to lock themselves in offices to avoid confrontation.

The notice called for the provision of a mental health worker on-site. However, the Department of Education has challenged this directive at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). 

The Department argues that complying with this order would set an unaffordable precedent for all public schools.

Justin Mullaly, Deputy President of the Australian Education Union's Victoria branch, says that the situation at Warrnambool College reflects a broader issue. 

“The situation at that school isn't just isolated to that particular school,” Mullaly stated.

“There is a key systemic problem and that is our public schools are chronically underfunded.”

He said that the lack of resources affects the availability of staff to support both students and fellow educators, creating a significant challenge in the school system.

WorkSafe is reportedly continuing to monitor Warrnambool College to ensure that health and safety risks are being managed appropriately. 

The VCAT hearing on the matter is expected later this month.