Do the proposed changes strike the right balance?

Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 2 November to 27 November 2020. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.

 

We want your feedback on proposed changes to create a better balance between equality and religious freedom rights for organisations providing certain essential services.

Read the Equal Opportunity (Religious Bodies) Amendment Bill 2020 and the consultation summary.

Have your say by answering the following question.

Do the proposed changes strike the right balance between protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sex or LGBTIQ identity and preserving religious freedom for organisations that provide essential services?

Comments closed

Bruce Millican

04 Nov 2020

Surely a Religious Organisation has members who believe in the values and principles that are held by that organisation. If that is exclusive to the type of person who can join, then that should be upheld and no external authority should have the right to overrule this.
In my experience, most religious organisations are inclusive and everyone is welcome, but may not necessarily hold a position of authority.

Government Agency

AGD Strategic Communications > Bruce Millican

04 Nov 2020

Thanks for your feedback on the proposed changes Bruce.

Daniel O'Connor > Bruce Millican

08 Nov 2020

Please read the specific scenarios this legislation targets.

Provision of education
Provision of aged care
Provision of crisis accomodation
Etc

This is not about exclusivity to protect religion being stripped. This is about misusing religion to harm people by denying them services being stripped.

Fay Patterson > Bruce Millican

12 Nov 2020

A question is about whether values and principles are exclusive to the religion. Atheists would argue that many "Christian" principles, for example, are a codification of broader values held and set by the community at large. Prohibitions on murder, etc, exist pretty much across the human board and indeed extend to many social animals.
Faith-based schools shouldn't be able to discriminate against teachers if those teachers agree to abide by the values of the school. That would include not undermining the faith of the school.
As noted, the changes are more focused on those receiving services than giving them, and I would totally agree that these changes are needed.

Government Agency

AGD Strategic Communications > Bruce Millican

12 Nov 2020

Thanks Fay for adding your thoughts to this discussion.

Mark Little

04 Nov 2020

Nearly. I agree with the exceptions provided, but disagree with the exclusion of teachers from those exceptions, where the organisation is receiving public money for teaching non-religious subjects. It is my belief that the best candidate for the job should always be selected, and I can't see how believing in a particular religion make a person a better or worse teacher. It should be practical to create terms of employment that ensure that an employee does not being the establishment into disrepute, or promote a competing set of religious beliefs.

I do wonder if an "Atheist School" would be afforded the same rights to reject anyone with a religious belief. If not, the wording is deficient. After one could just as easily argue that such a school has the right not to be "polluted" by believers in a religion.

Government Agency

AGD Strategic Communications > Mark Little

04 Nov 2020

Thanks for sharing your comments on the proposed exceptions to anti-discrimination legislation.

SUSAN DOWSETT > Mark Little

04 Nov 2020

I also agree that the best candidate for the job should always be selected but when applying for any position in a religion based school one of the requirements is usually you have to preferably be a member of a religious community or be able to commit to the ethos of that particular religion.

With the early learning years classes usually start with a short prayer. Teachers of these classes teach non religious and religious subjects. How would an atheist feel about working in that environment? Perhaps in the upper school appointing a non religious teacher could be viable as they are more specialised.

Public schools or "Atheist Schools" as you put it have already excluded religion from the curriculum, even chaplains can have no religious bias. "Atheist Schools" already have the right, it seems, to reject anything to do with religion.

For a country built on the Christian ethos I firmly believe the dumbing down of religion has had a negative impact on society.

The mantra seems to be if people want religion then there are churches but when it is not taught in schools in it's simplest form then that generation doesn't have a clue what it is about and in all probability never will. Nor will the generations to come.

Government Agency

AGD Strategic Communications > Mark Little

04 Nov 2020

Thanks for contributing to the discussion Susan.

Fay Patterson > Mark Little

12 Nov 2020

Our country may have been based on a "Christian ethos", but it was also founded as a secular state. This indicates an awareness amongst our founders that religion isn't an unadulterated good. Just look at the pogroms that have occurred over the centuries by people invested in their interpretation of the "Christian ethos". Talk to older people about Anglican discrimination against Catholics in public sector employment, or the family ructures caused by cross-denominational Christian marriages - these occurred *in our lifetimes*.

In a secular society, religious beliefs are the individual's and aren't the provenance of (secular) schools. These schools aren't atheist: they don't campaign against religion. It may seem that way to Christians sometimes because how do you teach about the Catholic faith, Anglican, Lutheran, etc, without touching on the issues that led to religious schisms? Much less other historic events that have included pretty awful wars fought over religious beliefs? But is this the fault of our education system, or are they doing the best with what religion has bequeathed to us? Actually, I think a good course in ethics and society could draw out the positives of religious community, which is probably a crucial element of religion that atheists aren't exposed to, and would cover not just "Christian ethos" but greater moral ground e.g. opposing cruelty to animals and caring for the environment.

And of course, much of "Christian ethos" isn't the sole provenance of Christianity. Islam and Judaism are Abrahamic faiths that share this ethos, while Buddhism arguably goes somewhat further (being kind to animals is part of their moral code), without a lot of the trappings that have led to division amongst Christian faiths. Atheists are not anti-social amoralists and can be *more* invested into ethics as the basis of a moral code as it is understood transparently and with considered thought, rather than the "do as I say" element each version of religion brings to the table.

I agree, our secular schools could include a bit more attention to morality and character formation. This is, indeed, where many religious schools have excelled. A problem is that any attempt to teach children about morality quickly gets bogged down in concerns about atheistic beliefs being instilled in our children. It's a pity that so much of our society can't understand how morality can exist outside of a religious setting.