The NSW Government has completed comprehensive community consultation and released a new schools’ policy that keeps students safe and respects religious freedoms.
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said knives would continue to be banned on school grounds, with new strict guidance on carrying religious items that resemble a knife.
“The safety of students is my highest priority and our policy will always prohibit weapons at school,” Ms Mitchell said.
“When parents and carers send their children to school they expect them to learn in a safe and caring environment. We have a paramount duty to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff while they’re at school.
“We have worked closely with community representatives, including from the Australian Sikh Association and the NSW Gurdwara Group, as well as Multicultural NSW and other government agencies, to develop these new guidelines.
“The guidelines provide for the safe carrying by students of items worn for a religious purpose.”
If a Sikh student wears a kirpan to school, the following guidelines must be followed:
- The miniature kirpan is of a small size, that is 8.5cm or smaller with no sharp edges or points;
- worn under clothes and secured so it cannot be used;
- must be removed and safely stored, or secured against the body, when undertaking physical activity such as sport; and
- when reasonably asked by the school the student must verify that these guidelines are being complied with, any safety concerns will be discussed with the student and their parents or carers.
Ms Mitchell said any student that does not comply with the above rules would have their parents notified and potentially face strong disciplinary action.
“Can I also thank the Sikh community, their constructive approach has meant we have been able to reach a solution that everyone is happy with quickly,” Ms Mitchell said.
Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures from previous years have shown schools are amongst the safest places in our community, where more than 818,000 students work and learn safely at more than 2,200 public schools in NSW every day.