NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has told the media that from Wednesday 19 May 2021 all school students will be banned from bringing knives to school, even for religious reasons.
“Weapons are not permitted at NSW public schools.”
She added that “there are discrepancies in the act permitting the carrying of knives for religious purposes on school grounds.” and this “not necessary in our schools.”
“Today the Department of Education has issued advice to public schools banning students, staff and visitors from carrying knives for religious purposes on school grounds. This advice will be communicated to families and the wider school community during the course of today with the expectation it will take effect from tomorrow. This ban is in place while review and consider options for communities who carry a knife for genuine religious purposes.”
The NSW Police has earlier charged a 14-year-old boy with two counts of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
It is understood that on 6 May 2021, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed during lunchtime at Glenwood High School in Sydney’s north-west.
It is understood that a ‘religious knife’ was used in the stabbing.
According to the ABC, mobile phone footage shows the victim holding his stomach as friends helped him through the playground after the attack.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a press conference that she was “taken back”.
The Premier added that she doesn’t believe that under no circumstances students can bring a knife on to school grounds.
“I will be speaking to the Education Minister about it. My strong view is that no student should be allowed to take a weapon to school, full stop.”
She has further promised to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, Principal Sonja Anderson of the Glenwood High School has senta letter to the school community.
In her letter, obtained by the media, the Principal has assured parents that the school is safe and they are looking into the matter.
“working with the Department and community representatives to discuss how best to enable students to meet aspects of their religious faith and, at the same time, ensure our school remains a safe place for students and staff.”
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Chief Executive of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Keysar Trad urged the Sikh community in Australia to review at what age children should carry the knives.
“There is a huge difference between a knife and a turban. I do understand the ceremonial nature of the little dagger … but in view of that stabbing, it might be something their own elders need to look into.”
Parramatta Mosque Chairman Neil El-Kadomi told The Daily Telegraph that schools should not have knives whatsoever.
“We condemn anybody carrying weapons into school … There is no need to carry knives. It is not about respect for religion, nobody is above the law. If you want to carry a knife, don’t come here. The safest country in the world is Australia.”
According to the the NSW Summary Offences Act, a person is allowed to carry a knife in public, provided he or she has a “reasonable excuse” to do so.
The kirpan is one of five implements baptised Sikhs are required to carry.
The Principal further added:
“The possession of a knife for genuine religious reasons is specified as a reasonable excuse under the act. However, any knife or implement used as a weapon in a dangerous, violent or threatening way is never acceptable.”
2GB host and media personality Ben Fordham said on his show Ben Fordham Live:
“I don’t care what your religion is. And the NSW Police and Department of Education should make this crystal clear. Queensland’s got it in black and white. The law states that it’s not a reasonable excuse to possess a knife in a school for genuine religious purposes.”
Meanwhile, the members of Sydney’s Sikh community have defended their children’s right to bring ceremonial daggers to school.
Australian Sikh Association chairman Ravinderjit Singh told the Sydney Morning Herald that a ban would compromise their ability to observe their faith and the recent stabbing incident was caused by bullying.
“It is a big responsibility given to kids when they partake in a baptism. We talk to them about the importance of items and how the kirpan should be worn and used. It is not projected as a weapon – that is not what it is meant to be used for.”
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has said that she is in touch with the “impacted communities about this action, and will continue to work with them as we find a solution.”
Read the full letter by Glenwood High School Principal: