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Special exemptions for turbaned Sikhs in the Australian Army

Cadet Satbir Kahlon, in Australian army uniform Source: Supplied

As a debate rages around Australia about religious headwear and whether all Australian schools (state, independent or religious) should allow Sikh children to wear turbans, it is worth remembering that the Australian armed forces have a special exemptions in their dress manual, for members of the Sikh community.

Within a 24-page document that specifies the Army Dress Manual, three and a half pages are dedicated to the special exemptions made for serving members of the Sikh community. They also mention and permit the 5 Ks - Kesh, Kanga, Kara, Kachha and Kirpan.

Historically, many Sikhs were part of Australian Imperial Forces in the early 20th century, and almost 20 Sikh Anzacs fought WW1 as Australian soldiers. Their names are documented at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

But in recent times, more turban wearing Sikhs have shown a keenness to join the Australian Armed Forces, with Cadet Satbir Singh Kahlon recently seen as a "poster boy" for diversity in the Australian army.

With this increasing interest, the Australian Army Dress Manual has included specific details of how Sikhs joining the army should wear their uniform, what colour turban they can wear, where the badge should be placed on their turban and more...

Here are excerpts from pages 20-23 of the manual:

 

Part of page 20 of Army Dress Manual
Part of page 20 of Army Dress Manual
Army Dress Manual

Page 21 of Chapter 2, Army Dress Manual
Page 21 of Chapter 2, Army Dress Manual
Army Dress Manual

 

 

Page 22 of Chapter 2, Army Dress Manual
Page 22 of Chapter 2, Army Dress Manual
Army Dress Manual

 

Page 23 of Chapter 2, Army Dress Manual
Page 23 of Chapter 2, Army Dress Manual
Army Dress Manual