Last reviewed July 2021
Schools, including state schools, are not public spaces and entry to them is therefore by consent or invitation—implied or explicit. It is an offence to be on state school premises without a lawful authority or a reasonable excuse for being there (a current maximum fine of $2356 applies, s 334 Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld) (Education Act)).
This means that school grounds (such as the playing fields) are not available for general use out of school hours without permission, even just walking through school grounds as a shortcut.
Schools have the power to limit or prohibit entry to school premises and grounds to manage risk of harm or injury to people or property, or the good management of the school.
A school principal of a state or non-state school has the power to give a person other than a student or employee:
- a written direction about the person’s conduct or movement at the school’s premises for up to 30 days. The person can seek a review of the decision by the chief executive for state schools or the non-state school’s governing body or nominee. Maximum penalty for non-compliance is $2356 (ss 337, 346 Education Act)
- an oral direction for the person to leave the state school grounds immediately and not re-enter the grounds for 24 hours. There is no ability for a review and the maximum penalty for non-compliance is $2356 (ss 339, 348 Education Act)
- a written direction to the person prohibiting them from entering the school grounds for up to 60 days (this can also be done by the chief executive or the non-state school’s governing body). There is no ability for a review and the maximum penalty for non-compliance is $3534 (ss 340, 349 Education Act).
The principal can ask for a person’s name and address in order to be able to give the direction and some evidence that the name and address is correct, and it is an offence not to comply with the request (ss 336, 344 Education Act). Maximum penalty for non-compliance is $1178.
The chief executive or a non-state school’s governing body or nominee can give a written direction to a person other than a student or employee prohibiting them from entering their premises for more than 60 days but no more than a year. The person can seek a review by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) (ss 341, 350 Education Act). Maximum penalty for non-compliance is $4712.
The chief executive can apply to QCAT to prohibit a person other than a student from entering the premises of all state schools or all state and non-state schools for up to one year (ss 352, 353 Education Act). The tribunal may make the order if satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the person poses an unacceptable risk to the safety or wellbeing of members of school communities in general. A breach of an order of QCAT under ss 352 or 353 is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of $4712 or one year imprisonment.
With respect to a non-state school, it is arguable that unlawfully entering or remaining at the school amounts to trespass and could be a breach of s 11(2) of the Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld).
It is an offence to:
- wilfully disturb the good order or management of a state school
- insult or abuse a staff member of a state school in the presence or hearing of a student while at the school or anywhere else students are assembled for an educational purpose (s 333 Education Act).
The maximum penalty is $2356. A student of the school cannot be charged under this section.