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Religious and Spiritual Observance Procedure

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Section 1 - Summary

(1) This Procedure describes the process for enabling all students and staff to meet their obligations or needs in relation to religious and spiritual observance where practicable, including provision of religious or spiritual observance space and multi-faith chaplains.

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Section 2 - Accountability

Accountable / Responsible Officer

Role

Accountable Officer Vice-President (Infrastructure and Students)
Responsible Officer Director, Student Services
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Section 3 - Scope

(2) All students and staff.

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Section 4 - Definitions

(3) Staff

(4) Student

(5) Chaplain

(6) Prayer Room

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Section 5 - Policy

(7) See Religious and Spiritual Observance Policy.

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Section 6 - Procedures

Release for Religious or Spiritual Observance

(8) Where a student or staff member is required to undertake religious or spiritual observance activities during the University's operating hours, they may request to be released from their duties or excused from class attendance or study requirements in consultation with their manager or Course Chair. 

  1. In the case of students, and where it is reasonable, the University accommodates these religious needs through measures such as flexibility in the provision of learning materials, assessments and access to facilities. Students should follow the Alternate Examination process should they require flexibility in exam dates or times. 
  2. In the case of staff, there is access to flexible working arrangements and/or leave entitlements as appropriate. 
    1. The provision of Clause 54 of the Victoria University Enterprise Agreement 2013 apply to academic and general staff who are required to take specified days of leave for religious and cultural observance.
      1. The University will not unreasonably refuse the grant of cultural and/religious leave as unpaid leave.
      2. Staff members who identify and are accepted as members of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities shall be entitled to paid leave up to a maximum of five working days, and leave without pay up to a maximum of ten working days, per calendar year for the purpose of fulfilling ceremonial obligations. Such obligations may be ‘traditional’ or ‘urban’ in nature and may include initiation, birthing and naming, funerals, smoking or cleansing and sacred site or land ceremonies. 
    2. Clause 46 of the Victoria University (TAFE Teaching Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2014-16 provides for Ceremonial/Cultural leave. 

Use of University Facilities

(9) While all Prayer Rooms operate on a drop-in basis, the University will also consider requests from students and staff to use a University room for religious or spiritual observance purposes. This may include a dedicated prayer room or other facility that can be used by the group in question. In considering such requests the following factors will be taken into account:

  1. Number of students and staff who would use the room.
  2. The need for a discrete facility that cannot be shared with others.
  3. The amount of time that such a facility would be used during University operating hours.
  4. The accessibility of other appropriate facilities in the community.
  5. Whether shared use arrangements are possible.
  6. Whether special provisions are required which would involve significant cost to the University.

(10) Room bookings can be made via the Facilities website.

Appointment of Chaplains

(11) The University will consider applications from religious and spiritual groups operating within the University for the appointment of chaplains to assist in religious and spiritual observance.

(12) The appointment of such chaplains will be considered by the General Manager, Student Wellbeing who will make recommendations to the Director, Student Services who will confirm appointments.

(13) Where approval is given for a chaplain to operate within the University, they will operate within the University's policies and procedures. The appointment will be subject to regular review.

(14) Requests for the appointment of chaplains must be made in writing to the General Manager, Student Wellbeing and should include materials and vetting as per the General Manager, Student Wellbeing's request.

(15) Chaplains operate on a volunteer basis and are to be vetted/endorsed by the National Association of College and University Chaplains.

(16) The Director, Student Services will make the final decision on appointments.

Spiritual Ceremonies on Campus

(17) When requesting an external space on campus for spiritual ceremonies, i.e. Indigenous smoking ceremonies, the Director, Facilities or nominee is to be approached formally in writing by the Director, Moondani Balluk or nominee for authorisation.

Part A - Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

Roles

Responsibilities

Director, Student Services Receives, considers and determines requests to use a University room for religious or spiritual observance purposes.
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Section 7 -  Guidelines

(18) Nil