You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

We are continuing to serve clients during the COVID-19 pandemic More Info.


Teachers and students work very closely together every day at school, so coming into physical contact with each other is often an unavoidable part of the teacher-student interaction.

But many teachers are often confused about appropriate ways to touch their students and are keen to know the laws surrounding interaction. Is it appropriate to touch a student’s hand to correct the way they hold a pen or guide their shoulders during a sports training session?

In Western Australia, what is inappropriate contact and whether it is reasonable is often the ultimate question when a case goes before a Magistrate or, more commonly, a judge and jury in a District Court.

WA’s Criminal Code allows teachers to use reasonable force for the purpose of correction of a child, but there are no hard and fast rules in this regard.

From a legal point of view in the hard-nosed world of criminal law, it is certainly my advice not to touch children in any form and, only if it is absolutely necessary, to do so in the company of other adults.

In Western Australia, there are two offences broadly speaking with which a teacher can be charged in relation to physical contact with students – Common Assault and Indecent Assault.

More often than not, the discretion of whether to charge the teacher is one that lies with the Police after a complaint has been made by a principal, parent or student.

If a complaint is made, the Police have discretion to charge and, in most cases, Police will charge a teacher on the basis of evidence from either a child or a parent.

Regrettably, by the time police are informed of an allegation, a teacher is in grave danger of putting at risk a very long career by having to answer to a criminal court in relation to the allegation.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Criminal Law
Snap Decision

It's fair to say the selfie and candid snaps have become staples of social media photography, and in a time where over 75% of Australians have a smartphone, everyone is their own photographer and publisher. So what’s the harm in taking a picture, or sharing it on the internet? Before you reach for your phone or camera (normally one in the same), you need to be aware of your surroundings. Whilst generally in public places you can snap away, being on private property while taking a picture without the permission of the landowner may result in charges of trespass. It also bears remembering most modern phones and cameras are also GPS enabled and “geotag” pictures taken with them. This...

Group Selfie Resized
Criminal Law
Gumtree and Stolen Goods

While advertisers may have spun “it’s a steal” into a sales pitch we are all too familiar with, if you’re not careful in the world of private sales that may be exactly what you get. Gumtree is one of the most well-known classifieds site with its primary purposes allowing people to buy and sell from each other. Whilst this gives tens of thousands of people the freedom to sell unwanted property they’ve gotten over the years, it’s increasingly becoming a quick and easier way for criminals to turn their ill-gotten gains into cash. The terms of use of Gumtree, and many sites like it, restrict their legal liability to any sales conducted over their platform including any conduct by a...

Criminal Law
Trick or Treat: Avoid a Nightmare on Halloween

Halloween has become an increasingly popular event in the Australian calendar — and has captured the imagination of lolly-loving kids to partygoers who enjoy a costumed affair. In the midst of all the excitement it can be easy to get carried away in the atmosphere. Here are a few tips to stay on the right side of the law and ensure the only fallout is a nervous visit to the dentist. An increasing amount of households are getting on board with Halloween, leaving out lollies and decorations, but there are still many who just aren’t interested in participating. If the kids are out trick or treating it’s important they know that if someone isn’t interested in handing out treats, a...

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.