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Melbourne tribunal upholds Catholic schools' right to exclude non-Catholics

A Catholic school's right to exclude a four-year-old non-Catholic boy has been upheld after a tribunal ruled the discrimination was legal because it came under exemptions in equal opportunity law which say a religious school can exclude students who are not of that religion.

The boy's grandfather claimed religious discrimination by St Patrick's Catholic Primary School at Kilmore, north of Melbourne, and yesterday branded Catholic principals fools for excluding other students.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled last month that Mr Kemp's claim was "manifestly hopeless" despite being sincere.

"I really believe that this is wrong," retired motor mechanic Graeme Kemp said. "This is a chance to have three boys (from the family) schooled into Catholicism when everybody else is bailing out and the fools can't see it."

Yesterday VCAT deputy president Cate McKenzie ruled the school would have to pay its own legal costs.

The fight began last year when Mr Kemp's daughter Mandy wanted to enrol her son Mitchell, then 4, at St Patrick's because of its location and academic strength.

Fr Peter Rankin and the school principal, Keith Hunter, refused to enrol the boy and told Mr Kemp that Mitchell would have to be baptised Catholic, his mother would have to convert, or he would have to go to Lancefield Catholic Primary before transferring to St Patrick's.

Documents given to the tribunal show the policy conformed with that of the education office of the Melbourne Archdiocese.

St Patrick's Primary School, Kilmore
Catholic Education Office Melbourne
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal


5 Jun 2002