Hindu Council submission on treatment of Hindu students in Catholic schools

Hindu Council of Australia has made a submission to Western Australian Education Minister MLC Sue Ellery on their concerns about treatment of Hindu students in a Catholic school in Perth. The submission suggests transparency in school policies, restriction on interpreting other faiths, interfaith forums to communicate with each other and a law to provide religious freedom to students of other faiths in all faith based schools. The submission is enclosed below :

To
Hon Sue Ellery MLC
Minister for Education and Training
Government of Western Australia
 
 
 
I am glad to know that your department has agreed to investigate the case of a Hindu student studying in a Catholic school who has not been allowed to wear a nose stud despite the school being told that this is an essential religious item.
 
Hindu Council of Australia had taken up the case with the school Principal and with the Archbishop of Perth but after some initial response, we do not hear anything from them. Hindu Council would like to make a submission to you regarding this case which is as follows :
 
 
1. School should declare its Policy on non-Catholic students and employees
– Each faith based school should declare its policy on how it treats students and employees of other faiths. School should declare its policy on whether and what non-christian religious symbols can be worn by non-christian students in their school. The policy should clearly state which religious components of school education are optional and which are mandatory.
 
2. Who can determine and interpret a religion.
– for example what is an obligatory item of religious significance.
– no religion should sit in judgement of what is essential to adherents of other religions. No one outside a religion should sit in judgement on what is essential to that religion. A faith based school can not sit in judgement on matters of religion of students of other faiths. Hindu Council of Australia’s judgement of what constitutes an essential Hindu practice should be accepted by the school.
 
3. School policy should not be a bar to diversity
– schools and its rules should encourage and not be a bar for entry of students of other faiths as well as students of other cultures, backgrounds and persuasions.
 
4. Each religion’s religious body should declare its essential icons
– including items that students can wear on them and such a list be agreed upon in Interfaith forums and then made available to school principals as first reference. Hindu Council of Australia has started this consultation process and will soon publish a list on its web site. A Nose Ring during puberty and Janaue a scared thread for boys during their education right of passage definitely find their place in this list. Janaue becomes an issue when students attend swimming lessons or other physical education which requires them to remove their tops.
 
5. The state should pass a law that no faith based school can coerce its students or employees of other faith to convert or to participate in the school’s religious programs and services.
– The school must inform its students and employees of other faiths that religious programs are optional for them and non-attendance will not be viewed negatively.
 
If you wish, we will be happy to make a more detailed submission.
 
Surinder Jain
Director and National vice President
Hindu Council of Australia
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