Exemption Procedures

Schools must include exemption processes in their local school-based Student Dress Code and follow the exemption process outlined below to comply with obligations under human rights and anti-discrimination legislation.

Exemptions allow school councils to impose uniform standards on all students but still recognise cases in which the application of those standards affects some students unequally.

Legal grounds for exemptions exists when:

  • an aspect of the code:
    • prevents students from being able to attend school or participate in school activities on the same terms as other students because of the personal characteristics referred to in human rights and anti-discrimination requirements
    • offends a religious belief held by the student, parents or carers
    • prevents students from complying with a requirement of their religious, ethnic or cultural background
  • the student has a particular disability or health condition that requires a departure from the dress code
  • the student or the parents or carers can demonstrate particular economic hardship that prevents them from complying with the dress code

Further grounds for exemption may be allowed at the principal's discretion.

The exemption process should only be necessary in exceptional circumstances as a dress code should accommodate the needs of all students.

The principal is responsible for managing and conducting the exemption process. In exceptional circumstances another staff member at the school or regional office may be appointed to consider an exemption request.

The exemption process

These stages describe the exemption process.

  1. Parents, carers or students approach the principal for an exemption.
  2. The principal:
    • considers the grounds for exemption
    • explains the exemption process to the applicant
    • guarantees that issues of a personal nature revealed to substantiate the request will be strictly confidential
    • encourages the applicant to support their case with evidence
  3. The principal seeks to negotiate a resolution that is acceptable to all parties. This may include:
    • a modification of the dress requirements rather than a complete exemption
    • granting assistance to allow compliance with the dress code without embarrassment or stigma — for example, when the exemption is sought for economic purposes
    • conditions under which the exemption is allowed
  4. The principal:
    • grants an exemption, or
    • provides reasons in writing when an exemption is not granted
  5. The principal keeps a written record of
    • all the decisions made, and
    • the reasons provided, in case a decision is questioned


If the principal is consistently granting exemptions on similar grounds, the school council should review its dress code to try to meet these needs within the code.

Guidance chapter on the requirement to include exemption processes in a student dress code

Reviewed 04 August 2021

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