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HRC Commission On End To Discriminatory Enrolment



The Human Rights Commission today welcomed proposed changes to school enrolment schemes.

In a submission to the Education and Science Select Committee, Human Rights Commissioner Chris Lawrence said that the Commission believes that there is a problem of students with disabilities being refused enrolment in schools, and that this is often related to enrolment schemes with discriminatory criteria.

"Removing schools' ability to set criteria which have the effect of admitting only the most desirable students should greatly reduce the amount of discrimination experienced by children with disabilities," Mr Lawrence said.

"This Bill could make a major difference to the lives of disabled children and their families."

Currently enrolment schemes allow schools which face overcrowding to chose between applicants for enrolment, with out-of-zone applicants being selected according to criteria set by the schools. The Education Amendment Bill introduces a new system whereby preference would be given to students with siblings at a school, and additional out-of-zone places would be allocated by ballot.

The Bill also removes a number of age limits from the Education Act and related legislation. Mr Lawrence said: "The Commission supports these changes, because they are further steps toward removing discrimination from our statutes. We note however that some of the most significant age limits, such as those which make it difficult for adults to return to school are yet to be addressed."

Mr Lawrence also welcomed the reintroduction of a requirement that all secondary schools have a student representative on the Board of Trustees. "This goes some way toward achieving compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which guarantees children the right to have a say in decisions that affect them," he said. "However, to achieve full compliance with the spirit of that Article, we consider that more changes may be needed."


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