School leaders are being forced to address growth in violence toward them, according to new research.,

Newly released data reveals a 76.5% increase in physical and verbal violence towards principals and other senior members of school staff.

Student teacher and aspiring principal Conny Georgio said the data was disappointing and she was apprehensive about what could face her in the school environment.

“It is disheartening and It does concern me,”  Ms Georgio said.

“There is a fear of becoming another statistic.”

The latest ‘Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey’ (School Leader Survey) revealed record rates of bullying, violence, threats, and aggression towards school leaders in 2023. 
This surge in violence coincides with an increase in mental health and well-being challenges, including burnout, stress, sleep troubles, and anxiety. 

Ms Georgio said the standard commitment of at least four years of study, along with hundreds of hours dedicated to unpaid placements in schools, amplified the disappointment surrounding the treatment of professionals in this field.

“After investing so much time, effort and money into furthering my career, it would be really disappointing to consider cutting it short,” Ms Georgio said.

Participants of the ‘School Leader Survey’ reinforced these concerns and expressed worry about growing demands on principals without additional adequate support.

“I am concerned that we are just given more things to do and bring into schools but nothing is taken away or dropped,” one participant said.

“We need more time and support to implement any changes,” another participant said.

Retired principals who were surveyed said the support systems for principals and senior school staff needed to be improved.

“Throughout my career, I certainly felt growing pressure and less control, the role of a principal has continued to expand with no increased support, finding the motivation to keep going is a challenge,” one retired principal said.