Critical Incident Management

Critical incident preparedness, response and recovery at the University is managed by the Emergency and Business Resilience (E&BR) Team within Health and Safety Services.

When significant incidents and major emergencies occur, the University responds using a systematised approach that includes policies, standards and procedures for ensuring that the safety of people is paramount. Following a disruptive event, this approach aims to ensure critical business functions and activities are maintained or recovered as soon as possible, and that any human, operational, financial, legal, regulatory, reputational, and other material impacts are minimised.

What to do in a major emergency or significant incident

If there is an immediate threat to life or property, alert emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance etc.) immediately by dialing Triple Zero (000).

In the event of any emergency or incident, please always contact University Security by calling 834 46666 or 1800 246 066 (free call) or by requesting urgent help through the ‘Emergency’ button on the SafeZone app . If due to the nature of the incident you wish to speak directly with the rostered Duty Officer, this request can also be made via University Security.

Please contact University Security immediately after calling emergency services to advise them of the situation and any further assistance required. University Security and/or emergency services will provide immediate emergency assistance and support as required.

The Emergency Procedures Flipchart and evacuation diagrams also provide guidance on steps to take in an emergency and are displayed throughout our campuses – any emergency response should focus first and foremost on protecting the health and safety of any people involved.

The CIM Framework and the UMIM System

The University’s approach to incident management is led by the ‘University of Melbourne Incident  Management System’ (UMIMS) as set out in the Critical Incident Management (CIM) Framework. Having this framework and system in place in the event of major emergencies, serious incidents and significant business disruptions is one of the University’s key risk management strategies.

UMIMS was developed in close reference to the nationally-recognised and widely-used ‘Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System’ (AIIMS) – the organisational principles and structure are used to manage major emergencies by government and emergency services agencies Australia-wide.

UMIMS is a systemised approach that minimises the human, operational, financial, legal, regulatory, reputational and other material impacts arising from an incident. It is triggered when the organisation's business-as-usual (BAU) resources and operational capacity are exceeded, and its principal objectives are as follows:

  • Protect the health and safety of staff, students, contractors, volunteers, and visitors both within Australia and overseas.
  • Identify, prevent, and manage critical incidents wherever there are staff, students or UoM resources involved.
  • Allocate appropriate resources and build relevant relationships in the immediate to short-term to manage incidents and critical incidents in compliance with University’s mission, legal obligations, and standards.
  • Manage events that may impact on the University’s reputation for the benefit of students, staff, and stakeholders.
  • Access and implement appropriate Business Continuity Plans (BCP) to effectively recover the University critical business functions.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness, adequacy and ongoing suitability of its incident and critical incident responses and imbed a continuous improvement philosophy.

The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)

The CIMT is comprised of approximately 100+ professional and academic staff from varied departments across the University, who are spread across several functional teams working under the direction of an Incident Coordinator, Deputy Incident Coordinator and Chief of Staff.These specialised teams are Communications, Operations, Logistics, Planning and Risk.

CIMT Structure
CIMT Structure

Additionally, an on-call roster of experienced Duty Officers and Incident Coordinators is in place 24/7. These staff work closely with the University’s Security team to receive and triage any serious or escalating incidents as they arise so that UMIMS and the CIMT can be activated as quickly as possible if needed. Where the need for activation is advised, the CIMT can be stood-up in-person, or by using the capability of online platforms, wholly online or in a flexible hybrid model.

CIMT members are carefully selected by the Emergency and Business Resilience team and trained to undertake specific incident management functions according to their existing skills and experience - many members bring considerable subject matter expertise and organisational knowledge to the team which greatly enhances the University’s capability to respond effectively when critical incidents arise.

CIMT Exercise 2022
CIMT leadership group meeting in the command room during an exercise in 2022.


  • What is a critical incident?

    A critical incident is an event that may adversely affect the University and requires an immediate response. It is likely to cause significant personal illness or injury, substantial impact to operations and commercial prospects, a degradation of reputation, or lead to an impact on the wider community.

  • When and how is a critical incident declared?

    A critical incident is declared, and the University of Melbourne Incident Management System (UMIMS) activated, when standard emergency responses are unable to resolve a situation and likely impacts are beyond the business-as-usual (BAU) procedures and capacity of the areas involved.

    Upon receiving advice of a major emergency or significant incident, University Security will initiate contact with the rostered Duty Officer (DO) to inform them of the situation. They will then confer with the rostered Incident Coordinator (IC) to assess nature of the incident and whether it meets the criteria for a critical incident declaration.

    If it is determined that a critical incident has occurred or is emerging, the rostered IC will appoint a Chief of Staff to assist in standing-up a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) to support the required response. If the situation does not meet the criteria, the DO and IC will still provide support, advice, and assistance as required until the incident is resolved.

    The Health & Safety - Initiate critical incident response process outlines the escalation procedure that initiates a critical incident.

  • CIMT membership – submit an expression of interest to join

    Academic and professional staff wishing to join the CIMT can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) at any time to be considered for the next available intake of members – upcoming onboarding opportunities will usually correspond with the annual team training and exercising program.

    EOIs are sought from staff with an interest or experience in crisis, incident, business continuity or emergency management, and/or who may be able to offer specialist expertise relevant to one of the functional teams within the CIMT, or a specific area such as research, HR, student services, teaching and learning, campus management, wellbeing etc.

    EOIs from those who are current or former emergency services volunteers or staff are also most welcome, especially if they have experience in supporting incident management or response.

    All EOIs received will be considered by the Emergency and Business Resilience team in consultation with the Director, Health and Safety Services and the CIMT Executive Liaison Group as required.

    To submit your EOI, please visit:

    For further information about UMIMS, the CIMT or critical incident management more generally, please contact the Emergency and Business Resilience team.

  • Psychological support during and after critical incidents

    Wellbeing and mental health support is available to all members of the University community including staff, students, and members of the CIMT, in the event they have been exposed to an incident that has caused emotional and/or physical distress.

    Business hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.

    Counselling and Psychological Services (CaPS) are available to students and staff in the event of a critical incident or traumatic event. Please call CaPS on 03 8344 6927 and identify the situation as needing urgent attention. For staff specifically, support through the Employee Assistance Program  (EAP) is also available by phone on 1800 808 374 and online – further information on staff support is also available here.

    After hours: 5:00pm to 9:00am, Monday to Friday and 24/7 on weekends and public holidays.

    The University’s After-Hours Mental Health Crisis Support Service is available to staff and students requiring urgent mental health support outside business hours – help can be accessed by phone on 1300 219 459 or via text 0480 079 188.

    For staff, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is also available after-hours by phone on 1800 808 374 and via the Wellbeing Gateway app – an access code for these services is readily available here on the Staff Hub EAP page.

    If urgent, emergency support is required, please call Triple Zero (000) and/or University Security on 03 8344 6666 immediately. Help can also be requested from both services through the SafeZone app using the ‘Emergency’ or ‘Wellbeing Assistance’ button.

    A range of helpful resources and services are also available through the University’s Phoenix Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health here.

    More information about the wide range of mental health emergency and crisis support and resources available can be accessed via the Psychological support for critical incidents page on the CaPS website.