Discrimination laws for schools, universities or other training organisations aim to make sure that all students are treated the same way and given the same opportunities as other students. You don’t have to put up with discrimination at school.
A school may treat you unfairly on the basis of a ground of discrimination by:
Not all forms of discrimination are against the law. Sometimes schools can make rules or decisions that discriminate against students.
For example, a school can refuse to enrol you if:
Good to Know:
Except for race discrimination, private schools are generally exempt from discrimination laws. For example, a religious private school is allowed to exclude people on the basis that they might be homosexual.
Report the discrimination
If you have experienced discrimination, you should:
IMPORTANT: You often cannot complain to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board if your school is a private school, so in these cases it may be best to complain the Australian Human Rights Commission.
There are time limits associated with making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission or NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. You should complain to the Australian Human Rights Commission within 6 months of the discrimination occurring, or to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board within 12 months of the discrimination occurring; otherwise there is a risk that the complaint won’t be investigated.
Complaints are usually resolved through ‘conciliation’, where you sit down with your school and an officer from the Commission or the Board and have a chat about what happened and what the school can do to resolve the complaint; ideally coming to an agreement.
But sometimes this process does not lead to a good outcome. You then have the option of taking the complaint to a tribunal or court. However, you should not go to court or a tribunal without getting legal advice and representation first. It is often available for free!
You may feel scared about making a complaint, but it is against the law for someone to treat you unfairly or harm you because you made a complaint against them. If that happens, they can be fined or imprisoned.
It can be difficult to make a complaint. If you need help there are services that can assist you.
Discrimination is unacceptable and you may want to speak to your parents or another adult that you trust. If you do not speak to someone, or report what happened, then no one will know what is going on and they can’t help you. We have provided you with a list of important contacts to call at the end of this page if you need to talk to someone else.
Free legal information, advice and referral
|For any legal questions you have, contact us here and we can give you free legal advice, information and referrals to local services. Visit the website – https://yla.org.au/– then select your State or Territory’s page and follow the links to find further information.|
Where to complain if school doesn’t help
|State||Agency||Contact Details||Time limit for making a complaint|
|Australia (all states and territories)||Australian Human Rights Commission||1300 656 419
|New South Wales||NSW Anti-Discrimination Board||(02) 9268 5544
Disclaimer: This is legal information not advice specific to you. If you would like specific advice about a legal question that you have you can get help here.
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