Managing Problem Behaviours: Basics  

Safety first... however those using aggression need to be held to account if comfortable try de-escalation, if not safety first contact police. 
Managing Problem Behaviours

De-escalation and Safety

Responding to Problem Behaviour


  • Problem behaviour has no part in the strategic direction and daily operations of the university

  • Problem behaviour is any conduct that has the potential to cause others offence, fear or trauma

  • Problem behaviour needs to be actively managed to avoid that kind of conduct being seen as either acceptable or unmanageable by the university 

  • Those who use problem behaviour must be held accountable

  • Where people feel safe or there is not a power imbalance, the management basics are:

    • De-escalate the person

      • call security / police if the person escalates

    • Set boundaries around problem behaviour as soon as it occurs

    • Educate the person of concern about how to conduct themselves,

      • model the behaviour that is expected

      • practice being able to self-regulate when faced with problem behaviour

  • Be clear that personal safety will always be the top priority, if in doubt see advice from police, your lawyer or Code Black Threat Management.


Three core elements are advocated to manage those who use problem behaviour. De-escalation, the setting of boundaries and education. These strategies can be used together or separately but never attempted when there seems to be an immediate risk to personal safety. In this circumstance security and police are required. 

  • De-escalation

  • Setting boundaries

  • Education


De-escalation is about taking the lead in an emotionally charged situation to try and soothe the aggressor and bring things to a peaceful resolution. To do this a calm manner is needed that includes slow movements, simple instructions, a calm voice and willingness to actively listen to a person who cannot regulate themselves in that moment. 

Setting boundaries

Boundaries are parameters that set the limits of an interaction or a relationship. Professional boundaries are crucial in circumstances where a power imbalance exists, such as a teacher-student or staff - manager relationship. In moments where students attempt to even the power held in the relationship by being aggressive, boundary setting is a key element during and after. 

Education and Behavioural Support Plans 

Educate the student about the behaviour causing concern, letting them know what is acceptable behaviour. Set boundaries that are connected to the Code of Conduct.​

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