December 20, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Melbourne: The Melton Christian College (MCC) has amended its uniform policy this month to enroll 5 year old Sidhak Singh in the new academic year, after refusing his admission last year because he wore a Dastaar, a head covering worn by Sikh children.
MCC amended its uniform policy, to allow exceptions where genuine medical or religious grounds exist, following a landmark decision of the Victorian Administrative and Civil Tribunal (VCAT) in Sept 2017 that found that Sidhak Singh had been unlawfully discriminated by MCC when they had refused to enroll him because he had unshorn hair and wore a Dastaar.
Tribunal set up in this issued had in September ruled that Melton Christian College (MCC) had indirectly discriminated against Sidhak Singh and violated section 38 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 of Victoria that prohibits discrimination by an educational authority in the enrollment of students.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, which had intervened in the case, had said in a statement, “The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision in the Arora v Melton Christian College case was an important test for clarifying the exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. This is the first time that these exceptions from discrimination have been considered in Victorian courts or tribunals.”
“I was approached by UNITED SIKHS a Sikh rights group in January this year when they learnt that I did not have legal representation. They assisted me and arranged pro Bono representation by Herbert Smith Freehills, a top law firm in Australia,” Sidhak Singh’s father, Sagardeep Singh, said after VCAT’s ruling.
VCAT had ordered that Sidhak Singh’s parents and MCC attend a compulsory conference to determine what orders VCAT should make. Following the compulsory conference that was held in November, both parties issued the following joint statement.
“MCC, Sagardeep Singh Arora and Anureet Kaur Arora are pleased to have resolved the matter of the enrollment of the Aroras’ son, Sidhak Singh Arora, which was the subject of proceedings before the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic). MCC has made amendments to its uniform policy to allow exceptions where genuine medical or religious grounds exist, such that Sidhak Singh will be able to start at MCC in the beginning of the 2018 school year.
MCC is founded on Christian doctrine, and is committed to an inclusive school community partnering with families in excellent Christian education. MCC regrets the difficulties that took place with respect to the enrollment and the Arora family is grateful to the school for the amendments it has made to the uniform policy in order to welcome Sidhak Singh to the school.”
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