IPA Today

IPA Response To Australian Law Reform Commission Religious Educational Institutions And Anti-Discrimination Laws: Consultation Paper (2023)

Written by and
9 March 2023

Dear Commissioner

IPA Response to Australian Law Reform Commission Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws: Consultation Paper (2023)

Freedom of religion is a core Australian value which has enriched the lives of Australians at an individual level and benefited society as a whole. The freedom to hold, express, and act on religious beliefs is an inalienable human right and integral to the dignity of the individual.

Religion has also enriched Australian life as a shared source of ethics, meaning, and wisdom. It has also enriched Australian life through the provision of services, such as through the establishment of faith-based schools and educational institutions.

The toleration of religious belief which makes the formation and maintenance of these institutions possible is under threat from the kinds of reform the Australian Law Reform Commission proposed in its Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws Consultation Paper (‘the Consultation Paper’).  
In the IPA’s 2019 research report, Religious Liberty and its Challenges in Australia Today, the IPA pointed out that while exemptions in anti-discrimination laws for faith-based bodies were unreliable protections for religious freedoms, they were valuable:  

Exemptions for religious institutions are important for both religious institutions as well as wider society. Religious institutions frequently engage in important services by operating schools and hospitals, as well as a multitude of welfare services to poorer Australians. If religious communities who form organisations to undertake these important activities are compelled to adhere to secular standards, the law would risk making it onerous or impossible for their formation.

This submission is an analysis of the 14 ALRC’s proposals contained in the Consultation Paper. The analysis finds:

  1. The ALRC’s proposals would curtail the right of parents to give their children an education consistent with their values.
  2. The ALRC’s proposals would facilitate division and sectarianism by pushing religious disagreements into the courts.
  3. The ALRC’s proposals would give government bodies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission powers to control what faith-based schools do and say…
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Morgan Begg

Morgan Begg is the Director, Research at the Institute of Public Affairs

Daniel Wild

Daniel Wild is the Deputy Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs

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