Vincent Care Victoria, Uniting Vic.Tas, and Anglicare, which deliver crucial social services for tens of thousands of Australians are concerned that the Bill will leave room for people to use faith as a means to cause harm. The Prime Minister announced on Saturday that the Bill will be re-drafted and introduced to Parliament early in 2020.
CEO of Vincent Care Victoria Quinn Pawson* said “We ask the government to listen, and draft a Religious Discrimination legislation that is consistent with all other anti-discrimination law by protecting people of faith, not giving them permission to discriminate,”
“I am extremely concerned about the potential this Bill may have on women experiencing family violence; people living with a disability; the LGBTIQ community; and people with mental health difficulties. This Bill undermines the progress we’ve made to ensure inclusion for all” he said.
“We believe that everyone has the right to freedom from discrimination, but not at the expense of existing protections”, said Bronwyn Pike^, CEO of Uniting Vic.Tas
“Anglicare supports the idea behind the Bill– to prohibit discrimination on the basis of belief, or non-belief,” said Paul McDonald*, CEO of Anglicare Victoria.
“But we cannot support a law that creates one model of protection for people of faith and a lesser model of protection for all other Australians” McDonald finishes.
All three organisations are worried about impacts the Bill might have on their staff and clients.
“In drafting this bill, we need to think carefully about how it will affect all communities. That includes in rural and regional areas, where minorities can feel particularly isolated and vulnerable” said Pike.
“Some of our staff at Vincent Care come from a faith background and some don’t, but what all of our staff share is a deep sense of social justice. That means they provide services to people who need them regardless of their personal characteristics or circumstances – and they do that with respect and without judgement,” said Pawson.
“We have shown how we can respect the faith of our workforce and volunteers, while at the same time providing services to everyone who needs them. This Bill could see some of the most vulnerable and marginalised in our communities encounter resistance, judgement, and closed doors when they most need our compassion,”
“We became Rainbow Tick accredited at the beginning of the year. Vincent Care provides a fully-LGBTIQ inclusive service and workplace for our LGBTIQ staff, volunteers and clients. We’ve got the balance right, and the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill has the balance wrong” Pawson concludes.
*uses he/him pronouns
^uses she/her pronouns
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ADDITIONAL QUOTES TO BE ATTRIBUTED TO ANNA BROWN, CEO EQUALITY AUSTRALIA:
“The Government need to genuinely engage with the concerns raised, and draft a Bill that doesn’t give protections to one group of people at the expense of others.”
“It’s simple. Our legislation should not divide our communities. We need laws that protect all of us, equally.”