Under section 82 of the Education and Children's Services Act 2019 (SA) the principal of a government school may set aside time for the conduct of religious or cultural activities (or both) by a prescribed person or a class of persons.
The principal of a government schoolmust give notice in writing to a person who is responsible for a student enrolled at the school who is a child, of the intended conduct of a specified religious or cultural activity involving the student.
Neither religious or cultural activities form part of the curriculum determined by the Chief Executive for the purposes of the Act.
Can a caregiver object to the student participating in such activities?
Yes. If a person responsible for a student gives written notice to the principal of the school that the student is to be exempted from participating in a specified religious or cultural activity (or both), or from all such activities, then the student will be taken to be exempt from participating in the activity or activities [Education and Children's Services Regulations 2020 (SA) r 32].
Who can conduct religious or cultural activities?
In the case of a person seeking to conduct religious activities—a person who is recognised (whether by ordination, commissioning, endorsement or otherwise) by a generally recognised or accepted religious organisation [r 31(a)].
In the case of a person seeking to conduct cultural activities—a person who represents, and is acting with the approval of, a generally recognised or accepted cultural organisation [r 31(b)].
The operation of the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, and any other Act that imposes requirements or limitations on working with children, will apply to persons conducting religious or cultural activities to students.
Where can the religious or cultural activity occur?
Religious and cultural activities may be conducted on school premises or elsewhere [s 82(5)].
Will alternative work be offered instead?
A student who does not participate in a religious or cultural activity cannot be made to suffer any detriment for not participating in the activity. Detriment is defined as intimidation or harassment, discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment.
The student must be offered an alternative activity related to the curriculum (determined by the Chief Executive) during the period in which the activity is conducted [s 82(4)].