The NSW Government has released a new schools policy to ban knives on school grounds to keeps students safe, however, it comes with a caveat to respect religious freedom.
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said knives will 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.”
Ms Mitchell says the government has 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 miniature Kirpan to school, the following guidelines must be followed:
1- The miniature Kirpan is of small size, i.e. 8.5cm or smaller with no sharp edges or points.
2- Worn underclothes and secured so it cannot be used;
3- Must be removed and safely stored, or secured against the body, when undertaking physical activity such as sport; and
4- 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.
Any student that does not comply with the above rules will have their parents notified and potentially face strong disciplinary action.
Sydney based Bawa Singh Jagdev is the secretary of the Sikh Council of Australia.
He told The Australia Today, “In the given circumstances we welcome the decision fo the NSW government.”
“If community needs we can defiantly work towards procuring the agreed size ‘Kirpan’ for youngsters.”
Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures from previous years have shown schools are amongst the safest places in our community, where over 818,000 students work and learn safely at over 2,200 public schools in NSW every day