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After consulting with community organisations, the NSW Government has announced a new policy on Sikh students carrying kirpans to school.
The state had temporarily banned kirpans after an alleged stabbing incident in May that resulted in a 14-year-old Sikh student being charged with two counts of wounding a person with intent to cause bodily harm.
The decision to ban the ceremonial knife altogether received a mixed response from the community, who were concerned for the safety of students along with the infringement of religious expression in schools.
As per the new policy, a Sikh student may wear a kirpan to school while adhering to these guidelines:
- the kirpan must be 8.5 cm or smaller with no sharp edges or points
- must be safely stored or secured against body during physical activities (like sports)
- must be worn under clothes and secured
- if reasonably asked by the school, the student must verify that these guidelines are being followed
“The safety of students is my highest priority and our policy will always prohibit weapons at school,” Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said.
“We have worked closely with community representatives, including from the Australian Sikh Association and the NSW Gurdwara Group, as well as Multicultural NSW and other government agencies, to develop these new guidelines. (They) provide for the safe carrying by students of items worn for a religious purpose.”
If student do not comply with these guidelines, they may face potential disciplinary action.
As of 2016, there were nearly 3,000 people in NSW with Sikh ancestry of which 27.4 per cent were of school-going age.
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