I, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, Attorney-General of Australia, having regard to the Government’s commitment to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and other Federal anti-discrimination laws (as necessary), including the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), to ensure that an educational institution conducted in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of a particular religion or creed:
- must not discriminate against a student on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy;
- must not discriminate against a member of staff on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy;
- can continue to build a community of faith by giving preference, in good faith, to persons of the same religion as the educational institution in the selection of staff.
REFER to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) for inquiry and report, pursuant to subsection 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth), a consideration of what reforms to Federal anti-discrimination laws (including section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)) should be made in order to ensure, to the extent practicable, Federal anti-discrimination laws reflect the Government’s commitments (as set out above) in a manner that is consistent with the rights and freedoms
recognised in the international agreements to which Australia is a party including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Scope of the reference
In undertaking this reference, the ALRC should have regard to existing reports and inquiries, including state and territory inquiries or reviews, that it considers relevant. The ALRC should also have regard to the Government’s commitment to introduce legislation to (among other things) prohibit discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity, subject to a number of appropriate exemptions. In doing so, the ALRC should consider whether some or all of the reforms recommended as a result of this inquiry could be included in that legislation.
The ALRC should have regard to the extensive consultations previously undertaken on these issues. In particular, the ALRC should review submissions to previous inquiries and tailor consultations accordingly. The ALRC should also undertake targeted consultation with religious organisations, the education sector, unions, legal experts and other civil society representatives.
In conducting targeted consultation, to the extent possible, the ALRC should be sensitive to the availability of individuals and organisations over the school holiday period and – in particular – on or around periods of religious observance.
Timeframe for reporting
The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 31 December 2023.