The National Catholic Education Commission is unhappy with the proposed reforms outlined by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its inquiry into religious educational institutions and anti-discrimination laws.
National Catholic Education executive director Jacinta Collins said if the reforms proposed in the ALRC consultation paper Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Law were to be adopted, it would be a major blow to authentic faith-based education in Australia.
“At the National Catholic Education Commission meeting today, our educational leaders across Australia were very concerned by the narrow approach taken in the ALRC paper,” Ms Collins said.
“The proposed reforms fail to provide real protections for religious schools to effectively operate and teach according to their religious beliefs and ethos.”
She said the review has been limited to exemptions in the Sex Discrimination, Fair Work and other Acts and does not address the need for protections for religious rights in Australia.
“Changes to anti-discrimination laws must go hand-in-hand with proactive legislation to protect religious freedom,” Ms Collins said.
“International law recognises protections to establish religious educational institutions and the right of parents to choose a school for their children that is in line with their religious values and beliefs.
“In a pluralist society, Catholic schools should be free to be Catholic.
“This means being able to build a community of faith within the school and parish, which is not limited to a narrow approach to preferencing the enrolment or employment of Catholic students or staff, or the teaching of religious education.”
Ms Collins said in operating in accordance with their religious beliefs, Catholic school communities do not discriminate, and are not seeking to discriminate, based on an individual’s personal attributes.
Proposed reforms to discrimination legislation would make it impossible for Catholic schools to be free to be Catholic (NCEC)