The purpose of this policy is to outline department policy and guidance on selecting suitable teaching and learning resources for students.
- Schools must ensure that teaching and learning resources provide students with challenging and engaging programs that do not offend students or the wider school community due to their obscene, offensive or controversial nature.
- Schools must ensure that teaching about religious and cultural beliefs and practices are handled with sensitivity, consistent with this policy and guidance. For example, the use of images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons should be avoided, except where permission to use an image has been provided or where appropriate warnings about the images are given, and images of the prophet Muhammad should not be used in teaching and learning programs.
- Schools must not use teaching and learning resources created by inappropriate organisations for classroom use – refer to the definition section for a list of inappropriate organisations. Additionally, schools must ensure that any use of the Nazi Hakenkreuz symbol is for genuine educational purposes.
- The department provides guidelines to inform teachers’ and principals’ decisions regarding the selection of teaching and learning resources, available on the Guidance tab.
- These guidelines also outline how schools should respond to objections raised about the use of specific teaching and learning resources.
Principals must ensure that the school complies with the Selecting Teaching and Learning Resources Guidelines, available on the Guidance tab, including that:
- schools do not expose students to highly offensive or obscene materials or themes, including:
- images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, except where permission to use an image has been provided, or where appropriate warnings about the images are given
- images of the prophet Muhammad, which should not be used in teaching and learning programs
- schools do not expose students to materials created by inappropriate organisations for classroom use – refer to the definition section for a list of inappropriate organisations
- the school community is informed of possible controversial texts prior to their use in classrooms
- students and parents know they can raise objections to the teaching and learning resources.
For more information about choosing appropriate resources for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, and languages respectfully and effectively refer to: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Guide to evaluating and selecting education .
Teachers and principals also need to ensure that selected teaching and learning resources:
- support students to learn the curriculum – refer to:
- the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority for further information on Victorian Curriculum frameworks
- the Curriculum Programs Foundation to Level 10 policy for further information on what must be taught in Victorian government schools across Foundation to Level 10
- are suitable for the age group using them
- consider the words, behaviour, images or themes of the resources in terms of the:
- impact on the audience age group
- literary, artistic or educational merit of the material
- intention of the author and general character of the material.
Principals may consult with school council or other members of the school community regarding the selection of teaching and learning resources.
To ensure that staff respond reasonably and respectfully to objections to the use of specific teaching and learning resources, schools must:
- ensure the objection is provided to the principal
- establish the basis for an objection
- at all times demonstrate respect for the views of the objector
- identify the basis of the objection by referring to the section: Resolving issues concerning objections to teaching and learning resources on the Guidance tab
- make every effort to resolve objections to the use of specific teaching and learning resources through discussion and conciliation.
Ban on public display of the Nazi Hakenkreuz symbol
It is against the law in Victoria to display the Nazi Hakenkreuz symbol (Nazi symbol) in public to convey messages of hate and intolerance and in connection with Nazi ideology. It is not against the law, however, to use the Nazi symbol for genuine educational, scientific, academic, or artistic purposes. Schools may utilise resources that contain the Nazi symbol when teaching Holocaust Education, or for other genuine educational purposes. An example of educational purposes permitted under the law could be a school using an educational textbook on World War II, which has a Nazi symbol on the cover.
The law recognises that the Swastika is an ancient and sacred symbol of peace and good fortune for the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and other faith communities. It is not against the law to publicly display the Swastika (which may be mistaken for the Nazi Hakenkreuz symbol) for genuine cultural or religious purposes.
In all cases, schools must ensure that learning resources and activities do not promote or condone messages of antisemitism.
For more information including a fact sheet about the Nazi symbol prohibition, visit: About the Nazi symbol .
Material about which opinions can differ.
Inappropriate organisations are those listed in the Sponsorship policy and Financial Literacy policy:
- political parties
- tobacco companies
- gaming venues
- companies involved in the sale or promotion of alcohol
- companies involved in the sale or promotion of weapons, including firearms
- companies that encourage unhealthy food choices by young people
- religious organisations, excepting for the delivery of general religious education or Special Religious Instruction (refer to: Special Religious Instruction Policy which also includes information about general religious education)
- authorised deposit-taking institutions such as banks.
Offensive or obscene material
Material about which there is a consensus that it is unacceptable.
Teaching and learning resources
The ‘teaching and learning resources’ referred to in the guidelines include any spoken, written or visual text or activity used or conducted by schools, for example:
- text books
- radio programs
- digital learning resources including video, audio, text, animations and images
Reviewed 29 May 2023