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Schools, TAFE and university

Everyone should be able to feel safe and be treated with dignity in educational institutions. Education providers, such as schools, TAFEs and universities, have a legal responsibility to make sure that their students and staff are treated fairly and with respect.

How does the law protect me?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, education providers have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

While a person who discriminates against or sexually harasses someone else is primarily responsible for their own behaviour, in some cases the school or education provider can also be held responsible for the actions of their staff or agents.

Education providers run by or for the Victorian Government have additional responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and more information is available under the For public sector part of our website.

The law protects you from discrimination

Wherever you go to get an education, it is against the law for anyone at your school, university or TAFE to bully you or treat you unfairly because of a personal characteristic that is protected by law, such as your:

  • disability
  • race
  • religion
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

Discrimination could include:

  • refusing to admit you as a student because of your sexual orientation
  • denying or limiting your access to benefits available to other students because of your disability
  • unfairly expelling you because of your political beliefs or activities
  • failing to take adequate steps to prevent or resolve an issue if someone discriminates against or sexually harasses you.

Find out more about discrimination.

The law protects you from sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is also against the law, whether it is committed by:

  • staff, teachers
  • other students

Find out more about sexual harassment.

It is also against the law to victimise a person, which means treat them badly or unfairly, because they have made a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or vilification, or have helped someone else to make a complaint.


You can make a complaint

Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:

If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you.

Find out how the Commission helps people resolve complaints.

We can also give you information about your rights.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

There are some exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act that mean it’s not against the law to discriminate in particular circumstances. For example, discrimination is not against the law if there is a real risk to someone’s health, safety or property.

Find out more about exceptions.

My human rights under the Charter

Every Victorian has the right to equal and effective protection against discrimination, and to enjoy their human rights without discrimination.

Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities contains 20 basic rights that promote and protect the values of freedom, respect, equality, and dignity.

The Victorian Government, local councils and other public authorities must always consider these rights when they create laws, develop policies and deliver their services.

Find out more about your human rights under the Charter and what to do if you think they have been breached.

Related resources

Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools – Analysis paper – Jul 2017

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Address
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries
enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Reception
1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

Interpreters
1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

We acknowledge that the Commission is on the land of the Kulin Nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present.