Religious Exemptions Inquiry eNews | November 2022

Religious Exemptions Inquiry Update

7 November 2022

Inquiry Closed

On 3 November 2022 the Attorney-General of Australian, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, withdrew the terms of reference for the review into the framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-discrimination Legislation.

Accordingly, this Inquiry is now closed and will not be completed.

New ALRC Inquiry: Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws

The Australian Law Reform Commission received Terms of Reference from the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, to consider reforms to the way Federal anti-discrimination laws apply to religious educational institutions on 3 November 2022.

The Government has appointed New South Wales Supreme Court Judge, the Hon Justice Stephen Rothman AM, as a part-time Commissioner for the Inquiry.

The new reference asks the ALRC to consider what reforms should be made, compatible with Australia’s international human rights obligations, to ensure, to the extent practicable, Federal anti-discrimination laws reflect the Government’s policy commitments in this area.



On 25 November 2021, the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 (Cth) (Bill), and associated legislation, was introduced to the Parliament of Australia.

In accordance with Terms of Reference issued by the Attorney-General on 10 April 2019 and amended on 29 August 2019 and 2 March 2020, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) will conduct an Inquiry into the framework of religious exemptions in Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation if, and when, the Bill is passed. At such time, the ALRC will conduct extensive research, and consultation widely, including with people who have expertise and experience in the laws under review, as well as people likely to be affected by the laws in question.

If and when the Inquiry gets underway, the ALRC will provide regular updates on the progress of the Inquiry, including updates on how interested stakeholders can engage in the law reform process. For more details, see the ALRC website or email:



Amended Timeframe for Reporting

The Attorney-General has amended the Australian Law Reform Commission’s reporting deadline for the review into Religious Exemptions in Anti-discrimination Legislation to be 12 months from the date the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed by Parliament.

View the full Terms of Reference for the ALRC’s Inquiry into Religious Exemptions in Anti-discrimination Legislation. We will send a further update when the next steps in the inquiry are confirmed, including opportunities for interested stakeholders to provide input.  For more details, see the ALRC website or email:

View the Inquiry Terms of Reference.

Justice SC Derrington, President of the ALRC, presented at the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (CLAANZ) Annual Public Lecture 2019 at the University of Melbourne on 29 November 2019.

Some of you may be aware that, on the 20th of next month, the ninth film in the Star Wars movie franchise will arrive in cinemas. The most recent film in that franchise was entitled “The Last Jedi”. In the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are a group of warriors trained in the mystic ways of “the Force”.  Some of you are no doubt also aware that the fictional Jedi have spawned a purported religion, ‘Jediism’, with its ‘philosophy based on the beliefs of the Jedi … in the Star Wars films’. Although initially viewed as a humorous approach to a census question, ‘Jediism’ is said to have grown to encompass 177,000 self-identifying adherents in the United Kingdom. In Australia, 48,000 people identified as Jedis in the latest census.

Read the full speech here

Justice SC Derrington, President of the ALRC, presented at the Freedom19 Conference in Sydney.

“On Thursday of last week, the Attorney-General released an exposure draft of religious
freedoms reforms, which he intends to present to Parliament in final form in October. The
exposure draft traverses many of the issues that were within the ALRC’s original terms of
reference for our Religious Freedoms Inquiry. Consequently, the Attorney has issued the
ALRC Amended Terms of Reference.”

 — Of shields and swords – let the jousting begin! — 

Read the full speech here – let the jousting begin!

Today the Attorney-General released an exposure draft Religious Discrimination Bill and amended the terms of reference for the ALRC’s inquiry into religious exemptions. The ALRC media release in response to the amended terms of reference is available here.