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Tuesday, 25 July 2017 15:00

Commission intervening in Sikh family VCAT ‘test case’

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is intervening in the Arora v Melton Christian College case currently before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

"This case involves a complaint alleging that Melton Christian College has discriminated against a five-year-old Sikh boy by preventing him from wearing a patka to school. The Commission's role is to intervene in the proceedings to assist VCAT to interpret the law," Commissioner Kristen Hilton said. 

Victorian law protects people from being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs and activities in the area of education.

Melton Christian College has relied on exceptions set out in sections 39 and 42 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to justify its uniform policy.

"This is the first time that these exceptions from discrimination, including allowing educational authorities to set reasonable standards of dress, have been considered in Victorian courts or tribunals, meaning the impact of VCAT's decision could be wide-ranging," Commissioner Hilton said.

"We believe this matter is an important test case for ensuring that exceptions to unlawful discrimination in our schools are interpreted with care and only applied where justified by the facts of the case.

"We're intervening as the independent regulator for equality law to assist VCAT to interpret and apply the laws.

"We want to make sure our laws, including those around discrimination, are interpreted in a way that best promotes the rights of children.

"The Commission encourages schools to carefully review their policies pertaining to school uniform to ensure they are meeting their equal opportunity obligations.

"We look forward to receiving VCAT's findings in due course."

The Commission can assist with complaints of discrimination on the basis of religion, race or another personal characteristic protected by the law. Call 1300 292 153 or find out more about making an enquiry or complaint.

The Commission's submissions to VCAT are available to download.

Media contact

Peter Davies
0447 526 642
Email: [email protected] 

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