NSW Education pays $38,000 for discriminating against man with criminal past

The NSW Department of Education has been told to pay a teaching applicant $38,000 in compensation after it refused to employ him because of his past criminal record.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has found the department discriminated against the man, known as Mr KL, when it refused him work as a secondary teacher in 2006.

The commission said Mr KL had a criminal record stretching from 1983 to 1992, but rehabilitated himself after eight months in prison.

In 2003, he completed a Bachelor of Music Education and in 2006, a Graduate Diploma in Education.

Commission president Catherine Branson, QC, said it was "highly relevant" that 15 years had passed since Mr KL's last conviction and his application for work as a teacher.

The department had argued the man's criminal record meant he couldn't meet the high standards of integrity required of a teacher.

"The fact that the circumstances leading to Mr KL's period of offending no longer exist, and the substantial changes he has made to his life since then, along with the steps he has taken to become an effective member of the community, were persuasive factors in my consideration," Ms Branson said.

"I do not accept that a person with Mr KL's criminal record is necessarily rendered incapable forever of fulfilling the inherent requirements of the job of a teacher."

The commission has recommended the Department of Education, or NSW government, pay Mr KL $38,500 in compensation "comprising amounts for hurt, humiliation and distress, loss of earnings and loss of opportunity".

(Published by The Australian - October 1, 2010)

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