A Sikh father says a Melbourne school refused to enrol his five-year-old son if he wore a turban in a case being closely monitored by human rights groups.
Sagardeep Singh Arora alleges suburban Melton Christian College breached the Equal Opportunity Act by not allowing his son to wear a 'patka' and has taken the school to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The school insists its decision is lawful under exceptions to the act, according a statement from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
The commission has intervened in what it calls an important test case for exceptions to unlawful discrimination in schools.
"This is the first time that these exceptions from discrimination, including allowing educational authorities to set reasonable standards of dress, have been considered in Victorian courts or tribunals" Commissioner Kristen Hilton said on Tuesday.
"The impact of VCAT's decision would be wide-ranging."
The case is set to return to VCAT on Wednesday.
"The tribunal will make its finding, and we respect the process," Melton Christian College principal David Gleeson said, declining to comment further while the hearing is underway.