The Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) Report ‘Building Belonging’ has been released. A copy is available here. Schools will recall the detailed submission CSA made earlier in the year as outlined in our Briefing.
The Report recommends, among other things –
39.1 The current genuine occupational requirements exceptions relating to work in educational institutions or other bodies established for religious purposes (s 25 (2)-(8)) should be repealed, along with a legislative note in s 25(1) which indicates that discrimination on the basis of religion will always be a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ at a religious school.
39.2 A new exception should be created to allow discrimination on the ground of religious belief or religious activity in relation to work for an organisation or related entity established for religious purposes (‘religious organisation’) if reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances and the participation of the person in the teaching, observance or practice of a particular religion is a genuine occupational requirement. This should not provide an exception from unnecessary questions that may be asked for a discriminatory purpose.
39.3 The Act should include a non-exhaustive list of factors to guide whether it is reasonable and proportionate, such as:
- the importance of the relevant conduct in protecting the ethos of the religious organisation and the religious susceptibilities of adherents to that religion
- the proximity between the person’s actions and the religious organisation’s proclamatory mission
- whether the religious organisation is a public entity under the Human Rights Act when engaging in the conduct
- whether the religious organisation operates in a commercial manner when engaging in the conduct
- the reasonable availability of alternative employment
- the rights and interests of the employee.
39.4 The Act should include examples to demonstrate that the exception does not permit discrimination against employees who are not involved in the teaching, observance or practice of a religion, such as a science teacher in a religious educational institution.
This will impose a further, more draconian, constraint on the employment of staff withing Christian schools, and reflects a particular ideology relating to the provision of education. We made this point in our media release on the release, a copy also attached.
While the Attorney-General has indicated general support for the changes in her Media Release, directly referring to Citipointe Christian College, we are still calling on the Government to reject these proposals.
A campaign along those lines will be launched next week with support materials sent to schools. In the meantime we have written to the Premier, Attorney-General and Education Minister seeking urgent meetings.
Our campaign page at https://valuedvoices.org.au/protect-qld-christian-schools/ is already live and sending emails to MPs, key Ministers and Shadows. We encourage all schools to actively promote use of this page by parents and others in the school community.