Christian Schools Welcome Protections

23 November 2021

Christian schools and their communities across Australia welcomed the release of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021.

The Bill fulfils a promise made by the Prime Minister prior to the last Federal election and ensures that the full-suite of fundamental human rights now have protection in Commonwealth law.

As far back as July 1998 then Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti in a report to the government, entitled Article 18, recommended that the ‘Commonwealth Parliament should enact a Religious Freedom Act which, among other things, recognises and gives effect to the right to freedom of religion and belief’.  It may well be the most widely recommended action not previously taken to protect human rights in Australia.

‘The release of the Bill is very welcomed,’ said Mark Spencer, Director of Public Policy for Christian Schools Australia, ‘it is a vital first step in securing these long overdue and fundamental protections and we look forward to its introduction into Parliament.’

‘We also welcome the Opposition Leader’s comments in recent days that he “absolutely” supports religious freedom, this is very heartening,’ he said, ‘we completely agree with Mr Albanese that this “should not be a partisan issue”.’

The Bill itself largely follows the pattern of other Commonwealth discrimination law, while also reflecting the importance of the communal nature of religious belief.

‘Faith is lived out with others,’ said Mr Spencer, ‘any effective protection for religious belief or activity must protect that activity when conducted through religious bodies or schools.’

‘Christian schools exist because of the hard work and sacrifice of ordinary, suburban Christian families over many years,’ he said, ‘these schools only exist because of that faith, and as an expression of that faith.’

‘Just as “faith without works is dead”, protections for that faith, without protections for the result of the works it leads to, are meaningless.’

ENDS

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Mark Spencer

Director of Public Policy

Christian Schools Australia

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About Christian Schools Australia

Christian Schools Australia is the largest association of Christian schools in the country and serves schools in 180 locations, supporting some 10,000 staff and more than 70,000 students across Australia. CSA is part of a global ACSI network of approximately 24,000 schools, educating more than 5.5 million students in over 100 countries world-wide.