Aggressive behaviours

Western Sydney University aims to provide a safe, supportive and healthy environment for students and staff. This is a shared responsibility for all members of the University  community. However, from time to time, staff may be confronted with a person who exhibits behaviour which is threatening and aggressive and can make you feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.

Responding to threats, acts of violence, property damage or weapons

  1. Withdraw from danger to a safe place
  2. Contact Western Sydney University Campus Safety and Security immediately on 1300 737 0033
  3. Contact Police on 000
  4. Alert staff to relocate – seek a safe place immediately

Identifying potentially aggressive behaviours

If you feel someone's behaviour may become aggressive, use the STAMP principles. There are also a range of tips to help avoid or deal with aggression on this page.

If you perceive there to be imminent harm to yourself or someone else contact Campus Safety and Security immediately on 1300 737 003. If harm is not imminent use the DEFUSE and SUDS principles.



  • prolonged glaring
  • absence of eye contact

Tone and volume of voice

  • sharp or caustic retorts
  • sarcasm
  • demeaning inflection
  • increase in volume


  • flushed appearance
  • hyperventilation
  • rapid speech
  • dilated pupils
  • confusion and disorientation
  • expressed lack of understanding


  • talking under their breath
  • criticising staff or the University just loudly enough to be heard
  • repetition of the same or similar questions or requests
  • slurring or incoherent speech


  • walking around confined areas
  • walking back and forth

Averting and dealing with aggression2

Be safe

  • have a clear, safe exit
  • position yourself to be out of reach to avoid physical injury
  • remove anything that could be used as a weapon

Be available

  • use active listening
  • use reflective listening
  • be attentive
  • be empathetic

Be respectful

  • ask what they'd like you to call them and remember to use that
  • build a good rapport
  • have a calm demeanour
  • use non-threatening body language
  • be assertive

Be supportive

  • make them feel comfortable

Be responsive

  • give them space
  • remove other people or things if they're upset or overwhelmed by them
  • provide a comfortable and safe environment

1 - Luck, L, Jackson, D and Usher, K. 2007. 'STAMP: components of observable behaviour that indicate potential for patient violence in emergency departments'. Journal of Advanced Nursing 59(1), pp11-19.

2 - Luck, L, Jackson, D and Usher, K. 2009. 'Conveying caring: Nurse attributes to avert violence in the ED'. International Journal of Nursing Practice 15, pp205-212.

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