New partnership to make school safe space for all students

Action to make schools in NSW a safer space for all students and staff will be at the heart of a landmark 10-year partnership between a re-elected NSW Liberal and Nationals Government and the State’s religious communities.

Following concerns of antisemitic and faith-based bullying in schools, the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government will bring the Department of Education, Multicultural NSW and the Religious Communities Advisory Council together to create a unified approach to continue stamping out racism, religious intolerance and discrimination against students and teachers.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said a proposed Memorandum of Understanding would reflect and formalise the constructive and open relationship the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has had with faith communities over many years.

“Our faith communities play a vital role in NSW, including in our school system and so it is fantastic we have been able to make a commitment to this partnership to continue our collaborative work on such important issues,” Ms Mitchell said.

“No students or staff should face discrimination or bullying, including based on their faith. The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government remains focussed on addressing this issue, as well as reaffirming our commitment to special religious education and special education in ethics in NSW public schools.”

Activities and initiatives as part of the partnership between the Department of Education and Religious Communities Advisory Council would include:

· Consultation as part of the Curriculum Reform process and development of curriculum resources to support teaching and learning of the new syllabuses, including best-practice teaching of the Holocaust in all NSW schools

· Accredited professional development to support teachers and school staff to promote student wellbeing when managing religious discrimination

· Cooperation with the Student and Experience Directorate Complaints team to build trust and facilitate better reporting of religious vilification and bullying

· Ensuring that every public school has a trained Anti-Racism Contact Officer, and is provided with additional training and resources to combat religious discrimination including antisemitism and religious bullying.

Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said the school environment is integral to fostering peace and respect between young people so those values are carried into their adult years.

“School is a formative time for young people, and we want to ensure that students are guided to understand the impacts of racism, hatred and religious intolerance,” Mr Coure said.

“By highlighting the dangers of hate and promoting harmony, we can foster a new generation of leaders that can help steer NSW towards becoming an even more successful multicultural and multi-faith society.”

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