Victorian girls will soon be free to wear pants and shorts to school every day after the state government announced it was stepping in to make it clear to schools that dresses-and-skirts-only policies are not okay.
It comes less than a fortnight after WA’s government made a similar announcement and is a fantastic win for little girls and teens in Victorian public schools who are currently forced to wear skirts and dresses. Unfortunately, though, it will not affect private schools that have restrictive policies in place.
Melbourne mum-of-two Simone Cariss has been campaigning for national change to school uniform policies since she was told last year her daughter Asha could not wear pants or shorts to her Catholic primary school.
“I was floored… Despite my best efforts, it was still a ‘no’. So I felt very passionate that this shouldn’t be something that every little girl should have to fight for,” Cariss told Mamamia.
She launched a petition to create national change, which later led to her teaming up with university lecturer Amanda Mergler to form advocacy group Girls Uniform Agenda.
As the co-founder and Victorian rep, the Essendon mum has been pushing for legislative change so that schools are only able to dictate their uniform policy within the guidelines that it will provide equal opportunity to both genders.
She says she’s thrilled that local girls will be able to wear what ever they want, but wants to see the change rolled out Australia-wide, as there are states that are falling behind society’s expectations of what girls and women can wear.
"We looked at the data in Brisbane and 70 per cent of public high schools don't offer choices for girls, which is really, really high, so we're trying to work with the state education department up there to tighten up the wording of their policy, which is not enforced," Cariss says.