Passenger Conduct Code for School Bus Services
The Passenger Conduct Code for School Bus Services (the Code) sets out the expected standards of behaviour for students when using a bus. It also provides guidance and processes for bus operators and drivers to follow when a student breaches the Code.
Bus travel is an integral part of how many students get to and from school each day. A significant number of Tasmanian students travel on buses to attend school, and all students have the right to feel safe while waiting for, travelling on, boarding and disembarking from buses.
The Passenger Conduct Code for School Bus Services (the Code) sets out the expected standards of behaviour for students when using a bus. It also provides guidance and processes for bus operators and drivers to follow when a student breaches the Code. This ensures that all students, and breaches of the Code, are treated in a fair and consistent manner. All operators of School Bus Services have adopted the Code as conditions of travel for the purposes of regulation 11 of the Passenger Transport Services Regulations 2013.
The Code has been developed by the Department of State Growth in consultation with the Tasmanian Bus Association (TasBus), the Department of Education, Catholic Education Tasmania and contracted school bus operators. A shared understanding between all stakeholders of the expectations of students travelling on buses – and the consequences for any inappropriate behaviour – is essential for ensuring compliance with the Code.
The majority of students behave appropriately when travelling on buses. Unfortunately, there are times when this does not happen. This can affect the safety and comfort of other passengers, as well as the driver. When students do not have access to a safe bus service this can affect their sense of well-being, which may impact on their ability to learn and places pressure on parents/carers to find alternative means of transport.
Bus operators are contracted by the Department of State Growth (State Growth) to provide school bus services under the Passenger Transport Services Act 2011. Compliance with the Code is a requirement of the bus operator’s school bus services contract.
The Code is designed as a framework for students, parents, caregivers, drivers and bus operators to follow – it is not an exhaustive list of behaviours. Consequences for inappropriate behaviour apply only to the behaviours exhibited by students while using bus services. The behaviours outlined in the Code also apply while, boarding and disembarking the bus.
The Code and actions under it, only concerns rights and responsibilities of users and providers of school bus services. Operators, drivers, parents, and schools should also be mindful of any reporting obligations they may have under other statutory regimes such as the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 and the Criminal Code Act 1924 in relation to inappropriate behaviour by or directed at school children.
Students and parents/carers are responsible for the safe arrival at, and departure from bus stops, and while boarding and disembarking the bus. The attitude and behaviours of students not only affect their own safety and wellbeing, but also the comfort, safety and wellbeing of others.
It is important that you:
Parents/carers, schools and bus operators, should work together to ensure that the bus driver is aware of all actions they might take to ensure the safety of all students on the bus, and to ensure that students with disability travel safely with respect and dignity.
In relation to behaviour that constitute a violation of the Code (refer ‘Consequences on inappropriate behaviour’, below), bus drivers should consider whether the student’s disability (including behavioural disorders that have been communicated to the bus operator by the school, parent or carer) contributed to the behaviour. In such cases the application of penalties may not be appropriate and the bus operator should meet with the school and parents/carers to discuss how to best manage such behaviour.
For example, changes to seating arrangements or support from bus attendants may be appropriate to assist in supporting students to maintain calm behaviour during transport to and from school.
If ongoing behaviours of concern arise from students with disability, a risk assessment and/or individual transport/behaviour support plan can be negotiated with the bus operator, school, and parents/carers.
Parents and carers should ensure their children know and behave in accordance with the Code.
Students must behave courteously, respectfully and in accordance with the Code.
Bus operators are responsible for ensuring the quality operation of bus services, and that student behaviour is managed in accordance with the Code.
Bus drivers are responsible for the general operation of the bus.
Schools can provide assistance in managing breaches of the Code in consultation with the relevant bus operator and parents/carers.
State Growth administers contracted public transport services in Tasmania.
Parents and carers
This Code categorises inappropriate behaviour into three categories.
In determining the category of behaviour, each incident is assessed individually. Consideration is to be given to the context of the specific incident, the seriousness of the behaviour, and the extent of the threat to driver and passenger safety or physical property.
These categories may apply to individuals or groups of students acting inappropriately. Please note that the lists of examples are not intended to be exhaustive but are used as a guide only.
Category 1: Irresponsible, offensive or nuisance behaviour, but not likely to cause harm.
Category 2: Dangerous or destructive behaviour, which may cause harm to property and/ or others.
Category 3: Immediately life threatening or illegal behaviour.
This category includes minor offences, and behaviour that may be irresponsible, offensive or a nuisance but not physically dangerous. Examples include:
This category includes more serious offences but is not limited to behaviour that may cause an element of danger to individuals or property. Examples include:
* Behaviour of this type may trigger other statutory reporting obligations.
Compliance with the Code is a condition of travel for the purposes of regulation 11 of the Passenger Transport Services Regulations 2013. If a student breaches the Code, the bus operator may act in accordance with these guidelines. Depending on the gravity of the offence, students may be refused travel on the bus for a period of time as determined by the bus operator.
The bus operator must provide written notification to the parents/carers before a student’s school bus privileges can be withdrawn. If the bus operator is unable to contact the parents/carers, they may provide written notice to the school so that the school can communicate with the parents/carers instead.
When suspending a student, the bus operator must adhere to the requirements of the Passenger Transport Services Regulations 2013. These Regulations require that a suspension must:
The penalties in the table below reflect the category of inappropriate behaviour, offence and penalty. They ensure that all students who misbehave are dealt with in a fair and consistent manner.
|Category of inappropriate behaviour||Type of offence||Penalty|
|Nuisance and offensive behaviour||First incident||Verbal warning|
|Repeated incident within four (4) school weeks||Written warning|
|Three or more incidents within ten (10) school weeks||Up to five days suspension|
|Dangerous and destructive behaviour||First incident||Written warning and possible suspension (up to five days)|
|Second and subsequent offences within the same school year||Up to four weeks suspension|
|Highly dangerous, illegal, or life-threatening behaviour||First and subsequent offences||Up to three months suspension|
Bus operators are responsible for managing inappropriate behaviour in accordance with the Code, and for maintaining accurate records of breaches and the actions taken.
Sample templates for bus drivers and bus operators to record incidents, document written warnings, suspension notices and meeting records are provided in the Bus operator templates section below.
Category 1 – Nuisance and offensive behaviour
|One or more documented incidents to proceed.|
|Repeated incident within four school weeks|
|Three or more documented incidents to proceed.|
|Three or more incidents within 10 school weeks|
Category 2 – Dangerous and destructive behaviour
|One or more documented incidents to proceed.|
|Second and subsequent offences within school year|
Category 3 – Highly dangerous, illegal or life-threatening behaviour
If parents/carers want information about the application of this Code to a behavioural incident they should contact the bus operator.
If a parents/carer does not agree with the application of the Code, they should discuss with the bus operator in the first instance.
If the parent/carer has attempted to resolve an issue directly with a bus operator, and believes the Code has not been applied correctly, they may write to State Growth, via:
State Growth will review the procedure taken by the bus operator to ensure it aligns with the Code. In doing so, State Growth will require the bus operator to provide a copy of its records relating to the behaviour of the student (including CCTV where appropriate).
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras are one of a number of measures that help to reduce unacceptable behaviour on buses. State Growth requires CCTV to be installed on some buses and State Growth will communicate this requirement to each bus operator individually.
Bus operators and State Growth may review images derived from bus security cameras (where installed and where a bus operator is contractually required to provide footage) to substantiate claims of a breach of the Code.
Bus operators must ensure they comply with any guidelines established by State Growth for the use of bus security camera systems. Compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 is required.
Where CCTV is a requirement, the State Growth Passenger Service Contract Standard Conditions stipulate that the Operator must, in relation to each Trip, record video footage of the interior of the Approved Vehicle, or Alternative Vehicle, being used to operate that Trip.
The Approved Monitoring Equipment must be configured so that, in respect of the Trip, the recorded video footage, at a minimum, records:
1. the picking up and setting down of passengers
2. any payment made by a passenger to the driver of the Approved Vehicle or Alternative Vehicle (but not necessarily the amount paid)
3. the date and time the footage was taken.
The footage taken by the Operator, must be stored by the Operator for the period of 45 days commencing on the date the footage was recorded.
Parents/carers are not permitted to view CCTV footage recorded by bus operators. If a parent/carer believes a serious breach of the Code has occurred, this must be raised with the bus operator.
State Growth has provided sample templates for use by bus operators when recording student behaviour incidents, meetings, or when issuing a written warning or suspension notice under this Code. Templates can be completed digitally or printed and hand written.
There is no requirement that bus operators use these templates. Bus operators may continue to use their own incident reports, meeting records, written warnings and suspension notices, provided they reflect the same level of detail as the templates provided by State Growth.
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Information in this publication is intended for general information only and does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. No representation or warranty is made as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of any information in this publication. Readers should make their own enquiries and seek independent professional advice before acting on or relying upon any of the information provided.
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