The Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General and Justice is considering potential amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act (NT).
In a detailed response to the Discussion Paper we have:
- highlighted the weak justifications for the reforms overall and in relation to specific proposals;
- provided details of the nature of Christian schools and why exemptions are needed;
- outlined the protections for religious freedom in both domestic and international law;
- raised additional concerns about proposals which would greatly impede free speech;
- pointed out the vague nature of some proposals which would make them unworkable.
We have also indicated a willingness to provide further information and attend any hearings into the issues.
As we indicated in our earlier briefing the Discussion Paper sought feedback on a proposal to remove the current exemptions for religious bodies in the areas of religious educational institutions, accommodation under the direction or control of a body established for religious purposes and access to religious sites. Under the proposal religious or cultural bodies would instead be required to apply for an exemption with the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (ADC) and justify why their service requires a particular exemption.
The consideration of these issues in the Discussion Paper provides little comfort that the ADC understands the nature of religious identity and its application across all of life, let along the particular needs of Christian schools. The proposals are completely inconsistent with accepted human rights law and the approach taken in other jurisdictions.
While CSA does not have any member schools in the Northern Territory we are continuing to liaise with other affected groups and will be monitoring developments closely.
A copy of the initial Discussion Paper can be downloaded from the link below.
Member schools can download our detailed submission from the link below.