What WA students think about discrimination and rights

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The next stage of the Commission's Children, discrimination and rights education research project revealed twenty six percent of participating students felt they had been discriminated against because of their physical appearance.
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Year six students at Newman College taking part in pilot research project

Commission Community Education Officer Dr Greg Watson said this was followed by 17 percent who felt they had experienced age discrimination and 16 percent who felt they had experienced race discrimination.

"Responses also showed disability, race, physical appearance and gender identity were the most important discrimination and rights issues for the participating students," he said.

The research was conducted by interviewing year six students and their teachers at six primary schools in regional and metropolitan Western Australia.

Dr Watson said in keeping with the Commission’s strategic objective of developing appropriate curriculum for school aged children the research at this stage was to investigate children's knowledge and experience of discrimination and rights, as well as their ability to think critically about it. 

"Encouragingly over 80 percent of students were interested in learning how rights protect people from discrimination, and the effect discrimination has on people," he said. 

The research follows on from a pilot research project conducted by an Edith Cowan University intern and the Equal Opportunity Commission in 2022. 

Dr Watson said an important next step for the project will be to work with teachers to develop effective resources to support their teaching about discrimination and rights to students. This would inform collaborative relationships with education and human rights organisations that support teachers in this important education task.