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Principals' wellbeing survey findings


The latest report from the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey is in, and its findings show the concerning trend of stress, violence and harassment continues to increase.

There is also no reason to assume the stressors and experiences reported are unique to principals, applying to teachers and other school staff just as easily.

The 2018 survey attracted 2,365 participants, almost a quarter of all (approx.) 10,000 principals in Australia. The report finds principals’ health and wellbeing is diminishing from being overburdened with red tape, underresourced, and mistreated. 

Compared to the general population, principals report: 

  • 1.5 times higher job demands 
  • 1.6 times more burnout 
  • 1.7 times more stress 
  • 2.2 times more difficulty sleeping
  • 1.3 times more depressive symptoms.

The survey also depicts an increase in stress from handling the mental health issues of students and staff, in conjunction with increasing staff shortages.

More concerning is the level of offensive behaviour directed at principals. Almost one in two (45%) reported being threatened with violence in 2018, compared to 38% in 2011.

One in three principals (37%) reported actual physical violence in 2018. That’s 9.3 times the national average, up from seven times higher in 2011.

Promisingly, the report also notes that despite all this, principals are more satisfied with their job than the general population.

"The only thing I can put it down to is that they are a very dedicated bunch of workers," Chief researcher, Associate Professor Philip Riley, of the Australian Catholic University said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "They know they are doing good work. They have the future of the country in their hands, and they feel privileged."

You can find the full survey results here