4. Exemption process – Students employed or seeking employment during school hours in the entertainment industry
This section describes the process for all Victorian school principals (Government, Catholic and Independent) to exempt students from school attendance for employment during school hours in the entertainment industry. This guidance reflects the requirements of (staff login required) and other relevant legislation.
It is the principal’s responsibility to review requests for exemptions, and they must follow the specifications set out in Ministerial Order 714 when making their decision. At a school, only the principal may grant an exemption – other school staff are not permitted to decide on an application. Parents/carers may seek a review of refused applications from the regional director (or diocesan director for Catholic schools).
The school principal is responsible for deciding any tutoring and additional educational conditions (outlined below) required as part of the exemption, as well as the period of the exemption (not exceeding 12 months).
Wage Inspectorate is available to work with principals to discuss any questions or concerns they may have regarding a student engaged in employment or applying for an exemption. Principals may visit the or contact the Wage Inspectorate by phone on or email for more information.
Requests for exemption from school attendance
A written exemption is required for any student to be employed in the entertainment industry during school hours. An exemption is not required for employment outside of school hours.
It is the responsibility of the parents/carers to ensure that the sections of the form for parents/carers are completed. Incomplete applications should not be accepted by the school and should be returned to the parents/carers. Schools should support parents/carers to complete the application if they ask for assistance. Schools requiring assistance with applications may contact their regional/diocesan office or the Wage Inspectorate Victoria (contact details are at the end of this chapter).
After receiving the application, principals are required to complete their sections of the form and decide if the exemption is to be granted or refused, including considering relevant conditions (refer to the considerations for granting or refusing an exemption section below).
The principal must provide a copy of the completed form and decision to the following:
- the student/parent/carer (within 7 days)
- the Department of Education regional director for government and independent schools or diocesan director for Catholic schools (within 7 days).
Parents/carers may have conversations with the principal before submitting an application. However, the principal must provide their decision on the application in writing. An application must be submitted for all exemptions, and a decision is not confirmed until it is in writing.
Considerations for granting or refusing an exemption
The principal must consider the following when deciding about an exemption:
- whether the child meets the requirements for exemption, including that they are of compulsory school age and the proposed employment is in the entertainment industry. Entertainment means any form of entertainment and includes:
- singing, dancing, or acting
- playing a musical instrument
- appearing in a radio, television, film or internet program or production or any similar program or productions
- appearing in promotional events or advertising
- working as a photographic subject, whether still or moving
- working in or in relation to a circus
- taking part in a performance that is recorded for use in a subsequent entertainment or exhibition
- work in musical theatre, plays, operas or other live entertainment
- performing in a shopping centre
- preparatory activities to the entertainment (except screen tests before the child is booked for the entertainment or casting walk-ons)
- whether the application has been submitted by at least one parent/carer of the child
- whether the exemption would adversely affect the student’s education, considering:
- the short and long-term benefits to the student
- the student’s educational needs, attitudes, and employment prospects
- the family’s views. In the case of separated parents, the parent applying for the exemption should have parental responsibility. The principal may refuse the exemption if they are aware that another party with parental responsibilities does not consent to the application. Principals may request and sight any parental orders or other court orders that may impact parental responsibility
- whether there are possible alternate arrangements to exemption, for example, whether the work could be undertaken after school or on weekends.
Under the Mandatory Code of Practice for the Employment of Children in Entertainment (2014) (the Code), students under the age of 15 have limitations on the number of hours that they can work. The student’s employer holds responsibility for ensuring this is not exceeded. However, principals should consider these maximum hours when assessing the impact of any exemption on the student’s education.
If the principal grants the exemption, they will:
- decide if any educational requirements or conditions are required as part of the exemption
- specify the date/s of the exemption (exemptions may not be approved for more than 12 months).
Principals should not engage directly with a student’s potential employer about the amount of tutoring to be specified as a condition of an exemption or be influenced by a potential employer. Principals are required to assess an application against the considerations detailed above.
Regional and diocesan directors will review applications against the same criteria (as detailed above).
Tutoring and educational requirements and conditions
When granting an exemption, principals must decide whether any educational requirements or conditions are required (for example, the development of an individual education plan or an absence learning plan), including the amount of any tutoring and in what subjects. Examples of requirements or conditions may also include sitting exams or attending certain school functions, events and/or classes.
If the student is in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC), Koorie, or supported under individualised disability funded programs including the Program for Students with Disabilities and Disability Inclusion an is required.
If the student is under 15 and a principal specifies tutoring as a condition of the exemption, the Code requires the student’s employer to engage a tutor to provide the education required. The tutor must be a registered teacher who is appropriately qualified to teach the student having regard to their age and level of education.
If the student is under 15 years and the principal does not specify a period of education through tutoring, the Code sets minimum education requirements. The Code requires that once a student is absent from school for the equivalent of 9 days for employment with the same employer, the employer must engage a tutor to provide at least 2 hours of education on each school day for the remainder of the employment (or an average of 10 hours of tutoring per week over a 4-week period).
The employer must ensure the tutor is given a proper opportunity to consult with the student’s school and develop an education plan for the student in consultation with the school, which can take the place of an absence learning plan.
This normally involves the tutor being allocated time to visit the child’s school and meet with the class teacher or principal and develop an individual education plan to meet the needs of the child. There is usually ongoing liaison during the course of the employment to monitor progress and vary the plan as required.
The Code also requires that:
- tutors are registered teachers who are appropriately qualified to teach the student having regard to their age and level of education
- the employer must provide an area of sufficient space and facilities of sufficient quality to enable the tutor to provide appropriate education to the child
- the employer must ensure exclusive access to the area and facilities for the tutor and student while education is being provided
- the employer must ensure they keep records of the hours of tutoring provided to the student and the curriculum covered
- the employer is responsible for covering tutoring expenses (unless the tutoring is in excess of those required to be provided in accordance with the Code).
If the principal wishes to amend any tutoring or other education requirements or conditions, they must record the changes in writing by:
- making an amendment to the application form, or
- providing official notice detailing the amendments (for example, via a letter or email on school letterhead).
The principal must then forward a copy of the changes to the student/parent/carer and the regional/diocesan director.
Principal concerns regarding exemption applications or students employed in the entertainment industry
The Department of Education and the Wage Inspectorate Victoria work in partnership to manage students employed in the entertainment industry. Serious issues or breaches will be dealt with collaboratively between the department and the Wage Inspectorate and the student’s school.
If a principal has concerns about a student regarding employment in the entertainment industry, they should contact the agencies listed below with their concerns.
Contact Wage Inspectorate Victoria for concerns or questions regarding:
- a lack of contact by the student's tutor or concerns about the education plan
- a student/employer not meeting educational conditions set out as part of the exemption compliance
- making a decision to grant or refuse an exemption based on the number of previous absences the student has had from school for employment
- employer conduct
- possible breaches of child employment legislation or the Code.
Wage Inspectorate may contact a principal if they have concerns regarding a student. Schools are encouraged to contact Wage Inspectorate with any other queries, who can help respond to or direct the query.
Contact the regional or diocesan office for concerns regarding:
- completion of the application form
- advice regarding the decision to grant or refuse an exemption
- parent/carer conduct.
Review of refused exemptions
Parents/carers may email their Department of Education regional office (or diocesan Catholic education office for Catholic schools) to ask for a review of a principal’s decision to refuse an exemption for a student for employment in the entertainment industry within 14 days of the decision being handed down.
Parents/carers should attach a copy of the completed application and the principal’s decision to their email request and any other information they wish to be considered. Contact details for Department of Education regional offices and diocesan Catholic education offices are at the end of this page.
In considering the application, the regional/diocesan director uses the same considerations to make their decision as the principal (see the considerations for granting or refusing an exemption section above).
Regional/diocesan directors may seek further information, including from the principal and parent/carer, before making their decision.
As with the principal, if granting the exemption, the regional/diocesan director must:
- decide if any educational requirements or conditions are required as part of the exemption.
- specify the date/s of the exemption (exemptions may not be approved for more than 12 months).
The regional/diocesan director will provide a copy of the final decision in writing to the:
Submitting completed forms
Government and independent schools
Government and independent schools must send completed copies of all applications to:
North eastern Victoria
North western Victoria
South eastern Victoria
South western Victoria
To assist Independent schools to identify which Department of Education region they are in, please visit:
Catholic schools must send completed copies of all applications to their diocesan director. Information on diocesan Catholic education offices is available at:
Catholic education office Melbourne
Catholic education office Ballarat
Catholic education office Sale
Catholic education office Sandhurst
For more information on who is responsible for decisions about students, including the common decisions that need to be made in relation to their education and welfare, see:
Reviewed 07 September 2023