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School uniforms


 If you are under 25 and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice at Lawmail.


Can my school make me wear a uniform?

Q: Hi my name is Melanie. I go to a private girl’s school and they always make us wear our hats even though they don’t fit on my head properly. I was given a warning slip because I didn’t wear mine today. Is this allowed?

A: Private or independent schools can make their own rules about what you have to wear, as long as these rules are not discriminatory. This can include rules about clothing like dresses or shirts, but can also include jewellery, hair and, in your case, hats.

The school is able to enforce these rules because your parents would have agreed to them as part of the enrolment agreement they signed when you started at the school. In the agreement (or in a policy) the school has to explain what the rules are and the consequences if you don’t follow the rules about uniforms. It’s a good idea to check your school’s rules to see what they say.  If you don’t have a copy, you can ask for a copy from the school office. 

If you think the rule is unfair because it’s hurting your head, it’s a good idea to speak to the teacher or the Principal. You could bring your parents along to the meeting if you want. 

If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, please send us a Lawmail.


Can my school refuse to allow me to wear items of religious or cultural importance?

Q: Hi my name is Indhu. I go to a public school. I was told I could not wear my headpiece which is part of my cultural heritage to school. The teacher told me if I wore it to school again he would confiscate it. Can he do that?

A: Hi Indhu. The short answer is probably not. A school can make reasonable rules about what you wear to school, but they generally can’t enforce this unreasonably in a way which discriminates against you based on your religious or cultural background. This would be breaking laws about anti-discrimination. 

If you’re having a problem with the school, it’s a good idea to meet with the teacher or principal to talk about it. You also might want to bring your parents to meet with the Principal. If that doesn’t work, you can consider making a complaint to the Department of Education in Tasmania.  Finally, if that still doesn’t resolve the issue, you could make a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner or the Australian Human Rights Commission. If you want more information on how to make a complaint, please send us a Lawmail.

Can my school make me wear my school uniform outside school hours and on excursions?

Q: Hi my name is Samantha. I received a warning slip because I did not wear my correct uniform to my school netball match on Saturday. This is out of school time can they do that?
A:  Hi Samantha. The short answer is most probably yes. Your school is allowed to make rules about what you wear at all school activities, including those outside of school hours or not at school proper.

If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, please send us a Lawmail.


Can my school tell me how long my hair can be or ask me to remove piercings?

Q: Hi my name is John. I go to a private school and my teacher confiscated my earring which I had worn on one of my ears. She also told me I had to cut my hair in order to attend class.  Are they allowed to impose restrictions on things besides school uniform, such as the length of my hair and accessories? 

A: Hi John. If you go to a private school, your school can make quite strict rules about what you have to wear, as long as they are not being discriminatory.    These rules can include things like hair, piercings, tattoos and jewellery.   

When you enrolled in the school, your parents would have signed an agreement that explains what the school expects you to wear, and the kinds of things that are not allowed.  The agreement also explains what the school can do if you don’t follow the rules.  You might want to ask your school for a copy of the agreement or school rules so you can see all of the rules and avoid any problems in the future.

If you think the rules are unfair, you might want to meet with the principal or teacher involved.  You could also bring your parents with you to the meeting.  You might also want to get your parents to work with the Parents Association at the school to make the rules fairer for everyone.

If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, please send us a Lawmail!


This page was last reviewed 10 March 2015.

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