Submission: Inquiry into Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws

This consultation paper, produced by the ALRC is in response to a referral from the Attorney-General
Mark Dreyfus, in November 2022, for the ALRC to review the exception provisions in the Sex
Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that apply to religious educational

These provisions have been of concern to NSWCCL and many other community, civil liberties, human
rights and legal groups for a long time. Calls for their review are correspondingly longstanding. The
ALRC previously commenced a review of the provisions which was regrettably suspended by a
previous Government. NSWCCL commends the current Attorney-General for moving quickly to
establish this review. It is a very significant law reform initiative of great importance particularly to
children and young people, in particular, who are connected with in religious educational institutions.

NSWCCL has engaged extensively with the development of commonwealth and state based legislative
frameworks to govern anti-discrimination and religious freedom. This has included numbers of
submissions to Government bodies (state and commonwealth) urging reform to legislation relating to
the existing exceptions from anti-discrimination laws - and opposing provisions in recent Government
Bills (state and commonwealth) which, if implemented, would have significantly increased permissible
discrimination particularly against LGBTQI+ persons in religious educational institutions.
To the extent that our previous work has remained relevant, we adopt it in this submission. Our
previous engagement includes:

a. Making a Submission to the Religious Freedom Review, commonly known as the
Ruddock Review 14 February 2018.

b. Making a Submission in response to the release of the first exposure draft on 2
October 2019.

c. Making a Submission in response to the release of the second exposure draft on
31 January 2020.

d. Making a Submission the Inquiry into Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills.

The ALRC consultation paper provides a thorough and detailed response to the AG’s terms of
reference and an excellent framework for community response to their reform proposals.
NSWCCL agrees with the large majority of its recommendations for reform. Those few that we disagree
with are, however, of considerable significance.

Read our submission here.