Religious Freedom and Inclusion: Challenges for Schools

On 19 November 2018, the Federal Senate Inquiry into “Legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff” had its first public hearing. Throughout the submissions, frequent reference was made to the Federal Religious Freedoms Review, whose report, despite being given to the Prime Minister on 18 May 2018, has not yet been publicly released. Non-government schools established for religious purposes are in the crosshairs of both reviews and their policies on enrolment, recruitment and pastoral care have come under close scrutiny as a result.

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Uniforms and disability only the start of a school’s anti-discrimination policy

A new NSW Parliamentary report on students with a disability in NSW schools and two recent reminders in the news about uniform policies and disability have brought the issue of harassment and disability discrimination in schools into sharp focus. Despite there being a complicated mixture of state, territory and federal laws relevant to these topics, it is essential for schools to understand their obligations and have appropriate methods in place for dealing with occurrences of harassment or discrimination with clear and relevant policies.

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