Drugs in Schools

This policy sets out requirements for schools to plan and implement appropriate responses to drug-related incidents, with an emphasis on prevention through drug education and safe and supportive school environments, and intervention and support for students who may be involved.

Last update

2021 Jun 11 - minor update to the policy and implementation procedures to include e-cigarettes, reflecting the change to the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 and the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000. Updated contact details.

Does this update affect policy implementation?

Yes. In NSW, the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain nicotine is illegal.

1.6.3 - As with cigarettes, principals must manage incidents involving e-cigarettes consistently with the relevant school and department policies and procedures.

4.1.5 - There is an update to the way principals need to report use of illegal drugs.

4.1.6 - Principals may wish to report a retailer that sells tobacco or e-cigarettes to minors through NSW Health.

Read the SchoolBiz advice (staff only) for more information.

Document history

2020 Feb 26 - updated contact details and made minor style changes.

A new section on drug testing in schools.

Revised implementation document Drugs in Schools: Procedures for managing drug-related incidents has been updated to reflect the department's current organisational structure and procedures.

Drug related issuers in schools: Policy Guidelines, 1991 Guidelines for managing drug related incidents in schools (2000), PD/2002/0040/V001.

Superseded documents

Guidelines for managing drug related incidents in schools

  1. Policy statement
    1. This policy covers the possession, use and supply of alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, illegal drugs and restricted substances, and the misuse of over-the-counter and prescribed medications on school premises, during school activities and by students.
    2. This policy covers the possession and use of alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarettes on school premises by employees and visitors.
    3. Department employees are also bound by requirements in the Code of Conduct relating to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
    4. Illegal drugs:
      1. Schools must be places that are free of illegal drugs.
      2. Principals must manage disciplinary matters involving suspected illegal substances or supply of restricted substances consistent with the Suspension and Expulsion of School Students - Procedures.
      3. Principals or their delegates must report incidents involving illegal drugs to the Incident Report and Support Hotline on 1800 811 523, contact the Child Wellbeing unit on 9269 9400 and run the Mandatory Reporter Guidelines.
    5. Alcohol:
      1. Alcohol must not be consumed or brought to school premises during school hours. This includes employees, students and visitors and other people who use school premises. In the case of cross-sectoral sites (for example, joint school/TAFE sites), a decision regarding the extent of ‘school premises’ will need to be made in the local context.
      2. The consumption of alcohol is not permitted at any school function (including those conducted outside school premises) at any time when school students, from any school, are present. A school function is any function organised by the school and/or in the name of the school and applies to all types of functions including dances, farewells, sporting fixtures and barbecues.
      3. Community groups may be permitted to consume alcohol on school premises outside school hours consistent with the requirements in the Community Use of School Facilities policy and Community Use of School Facilities Implementation Procedures.
      4. Principals must manage incidents involving alcohol consistent with the school's student welfare and discipline policies and Suspension and Expulsion of School Students – Procedures.
    6. Tobacco and e-cigarettes:
      1. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid to produce a vapour that users inhale.
      2. Smoking on school premises, including school buildings, gardens, sports fields and car parks, is prohibited. This includes students, employees, visitors and other people who use school premises, including community groups. In the case of cross-sectoral sites (for example, joint school/TAFE sites), a decision regarding the extent of ‘school premises’ will need to be made in the local context.
      3. Principals must manage incidents involving tobacco and e-cigarettes consistent with the school's student welfare and discipline policies and Suspension and Expulsion of School Students - Procedures.
    7. Misuse of over-the-counter and prescribed medications, including the supply of restricted substances:
      1. In cases where a student is supplying a restricted substance, principals must manage the situation consistent with Suspension and Expulsion of School Students - Procedures.
      2. In all other cases of misuse of prescribed medications or over-the-counter medications, principals must manage the matter as a student welfare and health issue.
    8. Misuse of inhalants/solvents:
      1. Where there are concerns that a student may be misusing inhalants/solvents at school, principals must manage the matter as a student welfare and health issue.
      2. School use of products containing solvents must be strictly supervised by school staff and limited wherever possible.
    9. Drug testing students, including breath testing:
      1. Students must not be drug tested at school or during school activities such as excursions and sporting events. This includes breath testing.
  2. Audience and applicability
    1. NSW public schools.
    2. This policy does not apply to lawful and responsible use of prescribed or other medication.
  3. Context
    1. Departmental policy on the possession, use and supply of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and restricted substances is governed by the following legislation: Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, Public Health Act 2010, Liquor Act 2007, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 , Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000.
    2. This policy is to be implemented consistent with Work Health and Safety (WHS) Policy (Intranet access only) obligations for ensuring a safe and healthy working and learning environment for staff, students and visitors.
    3. The Student Welfare Policy, Student Discipline in Government Schools Policy and Suspension and Expulsion of School Students – Procedures provide a framework for managing drug-related incidents in schools.
  4. Responsibilities and delegations
    1. Principals
      1. Principals are responsible for implementing policy and procedures for managing drug-related incidents in schools.
      2. Principals are responsible for ensuring the school rules and consequences about possession and use of tobacco, e-cigarettes, alcohol, illegal drugs and restricted substances at school by students are made known to students, staff and parents.
      3. Principals are responsible for ensuring departmental policy about tobacco, e-cigarettes and alcohol use on school premises by visitors and community groups is made known to the school community.
      4. Principals must monitor and review the implementation and effectiveness of responses to drug-related incidents.
      5. Principals or their delegate must report incidents involving illegal drugs to the Incident Report and Support Hotline on 1800 811 523, contact the Child Wellbeing unit on 9269 9400 and run the Mandatory Reporter Guidelines.
      6. Principals may wish to report a retailer that sells tobacco or e-cigarettes to students, to NSW Health through their online complaint portal. Information collected via this portal will help to guide the compliance monitoring and enforcement work of NSW Health Inspectors.
    2. Teachers
      1. Teachers are expected to support the implementation of the Drugs in Schools Policy.
      2. Teachers are expected to inform the principal when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a student is involved in drug-related behaviours.
  5. Monitoring and review
    1. In cases where a student has been suspended for an incident involving illegal drugs or supplying a restricted substance, the principal must report this in the suspension data to be returned each semester.
  6. Contact
    1. Director, Curriculum Secondary Learners: 0436 812 168
      PDHPE Advisor, 7-12: (02) 7814 2764
      PDHPE Advisor, K-6: (02) 7814 3763
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