An elected Minns Labor Government has committed to new measures to tackle the concerning rise in religious bullying across NSW schools, including a proposed landmark partnership agreement with faith communities to tackle antisemitism and religious bullying.
Amid growing reports of antisemitic and other faith-based bullying in public and private high schools, Labor will also establish a dedicated reporting portal available to students and parents in all NSW schools to report incidents of religious bullying.
A Minns Labor Government will establish a Premier’s Prevention Panel on Racism and Extremism with senior representatives of NSW agencies working with CALD and faith leaders to identify issues and to develop whole-of-government responses. Government agencies represented on the Panel will include the NSW Police Force, Multicultural NSW, NSW Health, Department of Education, Communities and Justice, Local Government and Family and Community Services.
Labor will also introduce a helpline within the Department of Education for students and teaching staff who experience religious bullying to ensure they receive appropriate support and resources and additional training for principals and teachers to equip them better to address and resolve religious bullying in the classroom.
An elected Minns Labor Government is committed to a range of additional measures to address religious bullying in schools, including:
- Working to expand accredited professional development opportunities to equip teachers and school staff to support student wellbeing when managing religious discrimination incidents;
- Consultation through the NSW Curriculum Reform process and development of best-practice curriculum resources for teaching about the Holocaust in all NSW schools;
- Enhanced cooperation and trust between the Student and ExperienceDirectorate Complaints team, schools and religious communities to facilitate better reporting of religious vilification and bullying; and
- Ongoing consultation with schools and religious communities to develop best practice responses to incidents.
Labor would work in partnership with religious communities to address these incidents in all primary and high schools across NSW, as well as tackle the attitudes that can lead to religious bullying.
Quotes attributable to Prue Car, NSW Labor Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning:
“It is heartbreaking to see incidents of antisemitism and other faith-based bullying taking place in our schools. Sadly, this is becoming all too common.”
“No one should be subjected to hate based on their background or religious beliefs, and if elected Labor will move quickly to ensure this scourge is stamped out.”
“I thank the faith communities for their leadership in calling out discrimination in all its forms. I look forward to continuing to work with them, community groups and schools to put an end to these appalling behaviours.”
Quotes attributable to Darren Bark, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO:
“No matter what the school, public or private, it should be easier to stand up, say something and report the bullying than it is to commit the act. This is not currently the case,” Mr Bark said.
“We firmly welcome Labor’s proposed partnership with faith communities to tackle religious bullying and introduce a digital reporting system for students and their families. This is a much-needed resource in our state.
“For too long, families have held back on reporting inappropriate behaviour for fear of reprisals from bullies or being labelled as troublemakers by school leadership. This reporting portal will ensure anonymous reports can be received and the incidents dealt with by schools immediately.”
Quotes attributable to Sheikh Shadi Alsuleiman, Australian National Imams Council president:
“The Islamic community is not immune to religious bullying. Unfortunately, all faith groups are victims of this terrible tragedy facing our society. Islamophobia is frequently experienced by our community and more needs to be done to address this issue. I commend the Labor Party for promising strong action.”
Quotes attributable to Surinder Jain, Hindu Council of Australia vice-president:
“In recent times we have seen Hinduphobic and other racist displays towards our community. This unwarranted behaviour creates a negative image of Hindus and Hinduism, leading to instances of hate and bullying against Hindu students. If it remains unchecked, it can lead to disharmony between all of our communities.”
Quotes attributable to Murray Norman, Better Balanced Futures CEO:
“One of the strengths of Australia is our multicultural society that brings together people from all parts of the world. It is of vital importance to teach respect and address religious vilification and bullying with positive strategies for restoration and growth.”