The National Catholic Education Commission says 2024 will be a big year for the Albanese Government to renew its commitments to faith communities and schools.
NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins said the Government made a number of commitments in the lead-up to the last election to ensure faith communities can continue to operate according to their values and beliefs.
Ms Collins said the NCEC looked forward to the Government “renewing its focus on its pre-election and subsequent commitments to faith communities to support ‘the right of all Australians to have and to manifest their religion or beliefs, and the right of religious organisations to act in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of their faith’.
“This includes religious freedom which protects families’ rights to send their children to a school in line with their values and beliefs; for faith-based schools to be able to operate and teach according to their ethos; and to ensure genuine choice of schooling through fair funding.”
In a submission on Wednesday to the Blueprint Expert Reference Group responsible for developing a not-for-profit blueprint for the Government, Catholic Education highlighted two policy challenges that pose a threat to faith communities, and are at odds with the Government’s commitments.
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is expected to produce a final report to government on New Year’s Eve, however its draft proposals seek to severely restrict the ability of faith-based schools to operate according to their ethos, despite the terms of reference seeking to ensure religious schools can continue to build communities of faith.
The Productivity Commission’s draft report for its philanthropy inquiry, Future foundations for giving, seeks to remove Deductible Gift Recipient status for building funds for faith-based schools and is a direct attack on not-for-profit social services provided by faith communities.
Ms Collins said the “proposed reforms from both the ALRC and the Productivity Commission seriously threaten faith communities and their ability to operate according to their ethos”.