Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey

Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey

Over 10 years, the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey has reached over 7,000 Australian school principals and school leaders. The survey has produced high quality longitudinal evidence of the impact that school leadership roles have the on the occupational health, safety and wellbeing of school leaders in different contexts.

The survey is jointly conducted by researchers at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Deakin University.

Information about participation, and local support services, can be found on the Australian Catholic University, Health & Wellbeing website.

Research Findings

The survey has consistently shown that many school leaders work long hours, face emotional demands in their work and experience conflicts between their working and family lives. School leaders also appear to be prone to suffer from burnout, sleeping troubles and stress as a result of their work.

Key Issues for School Leaders

97.3% reported working over 40 hours a week, and approximately 72.4% reported working over 50 hours a week

Over 84% of school leaders reported being subjected to an offensive behaviour over the last year, with 51% reported having received threats of violence, and over 42% being exposed to physical violence.

Emotional Demands, Demands for Hiding Emotions, and Work-Family Conflict.

Burnout, Sleeping Troubles and Stress

Research Impact

The survey reports have consistently highlighted the need to improve principals working lives through the provision of:

  • adequate professional support for school principals
  • professional learning programs
  • a review of principal workloads and work practices
  • an investigation into occupational violence and aggression in schools

Evidence from the Australian Principal Survey has been used to guide federal and state level policy in Australia. The project Chief Investigator, Professor Phil Riley, has contributed to the Federal Education Ministers’ Roundtables on school principals and occupational violence and aggression in schools. Professor Riley has also served as an expert advisor on school leader health and wellbeing for every State Department of Education in Australia. In recent years, research from the Australian survey has been used to develop principal health and wellbeing strategies and programs in Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.