The Education Minister expects a rise in reports of assaults against school staff after a new policy was released outlining the Education Directorate's commitment to ending occupational violence.
The policy, a joint effort between the Australian Education Union and the directorate, is the first of its kind and complements an ACT government pledge to employ a three-person specialist occupational violence team for schools.
Almost 700 Canberra public school staff reported incidents of verbal or physical violence in 2015-16. Separate figures show the Education Directorate paid almost $6 million in compensation for physical or psychological injury over the past five years.
The union's ACT secretary Glenn Fowler said cultural change was necessary and called on a gathering of principals to "reject the old 'it's part of the job' mentality".
"It's nobody's fault, but over time we headed down a road where being hit, kicked, pushed, spat on or told to eff off was seen as part of the job of an educator," he said.
"We were in danger of becoming professional victims, martyred to the cause of a child or young person's education.
"Here's the thing: the right of a child to an education comes first, but it comes equal first.
"From today, it shares top spot with the right that working people have to return home in the same shape in which they left home that morning."
Education Minister Yvette Berry acknowledged the issue of occupational violence would not be solved overnight. She said reported incidents would likely rise as awareness grew.
"We are asking for a significant policy change within our schools and within our communities," she said.
"This plan and this policy that has been launched today will start the conversation about ensuring that employees that work in our schools are kept safe and that our children have a great, safe learning environment."
Occupational violence was defined as "any action, incident or behaviour that departs from reasonable conduct in which a person is assaulted, threatened, harmed, injured in the course of, or as a direct result of, his or her work".
The policy will apply to any incident linked to a school staff member's work, even outside of school hours.
It could include personal intimidation, verbal abuse, physical assault, sexual harassment, threatening behaviour, abuse through texts, phone calls and on social media, making vexatious complaints, and making derogatory, slanderous or threatening statements.
School leaders were supported on Wednesday to implement the new plan with professional development at the National Portrait Gallery.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.