We have finalised our joint submission with Adventist Schools Australia to the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom chaired by the Hon Phillip Ruddock.
The submission calls for a number of changes including:
- the appointment of a dedicated ‘Freedoms Commissioner’ to publicly champion and advocate for religious and other freedoms;
- an immediate redefinition of ‘discrimination’ in Commonwealth law to recognise that not all differentiation is discrimination and to ensure a balancing of rights;
- legislating for a range of positive protections for religious freedom. These are along the lines proposed during the discussion of changes to the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and effectively referred to this Panel for consideration.
The positive protections sought have been identified during the extensive discussion and consideration of religious freedom issues during the recent ‘marriage debate’. They include protections and provisions:
- relating to the use of the facilities of a Christian school for marriage ceremonies;
- to guide the determination of the beliefs of a religious body by a judicial body;
- that clearly state the Commonwealth’s intention to ‘cover the field’;
- guaranteeing free speech where it does not threaten or harass another person or group;
- securing the charitable status of religious bodies and schools;
- shielding continued education funding for Christian schools; and that
- ensure ‘believers’ can continue to act on their beliefs
A copy of our joint submission can be downloaded from the link below –