A coalition of prominent NSW health bodies, women’s organisations, unions, faith-based groups and LGBTIQ+ community groups have criticised the Joint Select Committee Inquiry report into One Nation’s NSW Religion Bill, saying many concerns regarding the Bill have been ignored.
The group of 19 organisations penned an open letter urging the state’s Attorney General to consult with them and the broader community about their concerns in formulating the Government’s response to the report.
“We support fair and equal discrimination laws which protect all of us, including people of faith and those who are not religious, equally alongside other groups”, the letter reads. “A Government Bill which adopts critical aspects of the One Nation NSW proposal would not attract our support, as it would not protect all of us, equally.”
The letter, signed by diverse stakeholders including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Uniting NSW/ACT, the Independent Education Union of Australia (NSW/ACT Branch), Women’s Safety NSW, Equality Australia and ACON details the concerns the Committee has failed to address in areas such as employment, education and access to services, such as healthcare.
Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director at Equality Australia added, “Our laws should protect us all, equally. But this Committee has instead endorsed an untested, unorthodox and unbalanced proposal that protects people of faith unequally, and puts women, LGBTIQ+ people and people with different or no beliefs at risk of discrimination”
Patrick Devery from the Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch said:
“The recommendations of this Committee would entrench the ability for faith-based organisations to continue to discriminate against workers who have different beliefs, no matter how well they can do the job required of them, even where religion is not relevant to the role.”
This means teachers in faith-based schools would remain vulnerable to losing their jobs, simply because they have different beliefs to their employers”
This would apply to employees of any faith-based organisation, such as doctors or nurses in faith-based hospitals.
The group raised concerns that aspects of the One Nation NSW Religion Bill, if adopted by Government, would make it difficult for employers to foster diverse workplaces where their protect staff or customers are protected from harmful conduct.
Hayley Foster from Women’s Safety NSW said:
“Employers, educators and professional bodies should be able to hold people to account for expressing views that disparage and harm women who work in, study or rely on, their organisations. If those views cause others harm, it shouldn’t matter when those views are expressed or if they are based in religious beliefs or not.”
“The recommendations of this Committee would hinder employers, educators and professional bodies that aim to create safe and inclusive spaces for women at work, in education or in service delivery.”
“We can’t have a situation where one worker can tell a female colleague that they should submit to their husbands, and their employer cannot do anything about it so long as they do it after hours.”
The organisations also raise concerns that religious belief would be protected in some enhanced ways in comparison with other attributes, while some protections that currently exist for others will not be applied equally to all people of faith.
For any media related to the open letter and its signatories, please contact:
0408 541 717
The open letter can be accessed here.
- Australian Association of Social Workers
- Australian Services Union NSW & ACT Services Branch
- Domestic Violence NSW
- DV West
- Equality Australia
- Independent Education Union of Australian NSW/ACT Branch
- NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby
- NSW Teachers Federation
- Public Health Association of Australia
- Public Interest Advocacy Centre
- Rainbodhi LGBTQIA+ Buddhist Community
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- Uniting NSW/ACT
- The Very Revd Dr Greg Jenks, Dean of Grafton Cathedral
- Women with Disabilities Australia
- Women’s Electoral Lobby
- Women’s Legal Service NSW
- Women’s Safety NSW