- MEDIA RELEASE: Religious Freedom Review and Federal Government Response | ECAJ
- Jewish community responses to religious discrimination in schools
December 23, 2018
THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has “cautiously welcomed” the long-awaited release of the Religious Freedom Review and the federal government’s response.
The government has endorsed 15 of the 20 recommendations in the report, which was handed down in May but only released last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government plans to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act, employ a Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission and look to introduce a range of other amendments.
The issue of whether religious schools should be allowed to discriminate based on LGBTI+ status has been deferred for the time being.
“Discrimination on the basis of a person’s identity – including their religious identity – is unacceptable … we [also] respect the right of religious institutions to maintain their distinctive religious ethos. Our laws should reflect these values,” Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter said last week.
“Our commitment to striking an appropriate balance is clear. We are committed to finding a way forward that cuts through the political debates about whether some rights are more important than others.”
ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim said that although the roof body believed religious freedom in Australia is not under threat, “as both an ethnic and a faith community we support the government’s intention ‘to further protect, and better promote and balance, the right to freedom of religion under Australian law and in the public sphere’.”
He said there “should be little controversy” about the endorsed recommendations, but did say the introduction of a Religious Discrimination Act will be more contentious.
“On the one hand the legislation will prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity … on the other hand there will be similar exemptions to those in other anti-discrimination legislation,” he said.
“In practice, however, some difficult situations may arise in which one or the other principle will have to give way, and where no broad social consensus exists as to which principle ought to prevail.”
Wertheim added the creation of the Freedom of Religion Commissioner role was “good sense”.
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director of community affairs Jeremy Jones said the government would have a “difficult task trying to get the correct balance between protecting the right of all Australians to enjoy religious freedom while also trying to ensure that we can have full and robust discussion on matters of concern”.
Jewish Community responses to the removal of discrimination against staff and students at religious schools.
This table will be updated as further details come to hand.
Last update: 5:54pm 04-Dec-2018
|Organisation (click for statement)||State||Remove exemptions|
|The King David School||VIC|
|Mount Scopus Memorial College||VIC|
|Leibler Yavneh College||VIC|
|Mount Sinai College||NSW|
|Institute for Judaism and Civilisation||VIC|
|Sholem Aleichem College||VIC|
|United Jewish Education Board||VIC|
|Yeshivah & Beth Rivkah Colleges||VIC|
|NSW Board of Jewish Education||NSW|
|Board of Progressive Jewish Education||NSW|
King David School says discrimination against staff, parents and students on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is unacceptable.
Aleph Melbourne welcomes The King David School’s submission to the inquiry into legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff.
Submissions to the inquiry are open until November 26 2018.
See our table of responses from Jewish schools across Australia.
At the Caulfield Candidates Forum David Southwick responds to a question about what the Liberal Party are doing to strengthen support for LGBTIQ people. Sorina Grasso and Dinesh Mathew follow up.
At the Caulfield Candidates Debate David Southwick responds to a question from Michael Barnett about what the Liberal Party are doing to strengthen support for LGBTIQ people. Listen here. Sorina Grasso and Dinesh Mathew follow-up. Listen to the question and answers here.
QUESTION FOR DAVID SOUTHWICK
CAULFIELD CANDIDATES FORUM
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 14 2018
David, last Wednesday Jewish Care Victoria and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria issued a combined statement1 entitled “STANDING AGAINST CONVERSION THERAPY”. This relates to the discredited and unscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation.
The Liberal party has made an election promise to dismantle Safe Schools, an evidence-based program that reduces discrimination and stigma against LGBTIQ people.
Matthew Guy declared at the Australian Christian Lobby conference that a government he leads will abolish safe schools.2
Earlier in the year Graham Watt, Liberal MP for Burwood was at an Anti-Safe Schools Rally convened by far-right religious groups and declared that the Liberal Party would abandon Safe Schools. At this rally others spoke of transgender and gay people and our families as if we were evil and out to destroy society.
Bialik College, Sholem Aleichem and King David College have embraced the principles of the Safe Schools program because they know the program helps build a stronger and more inclusive Jewish community.
What are you and the Liberal Party doing to align with the values of the Jewish community’s leading organisations in terms of strengthening support for LGBTIQ people, not weakening it?
JULY 22 2016
Aleph Melbourne welcomes the “Inclusivity Statement” issued to parents by Mount Scopus Memorial College on June 20 2016.
This statement is the first public acknowledgement by the school for the need to offer specific support to same-sex attracted and gender diverse students, as well as students from rainbow families.
Whilst the school has not yet adopted a comprehensive program such as that offered by the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), this is an important first step, as it offers a foundation for the school to build on.
Increasingly, the Australian school landscape is understanding that the era of marginalising same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender diverse students is over and is seeking better ways to include and value the diversity of these students.
As Mount Scopus finds its feet in supporting their previously neglected students, it will discover a fantastic surge in performance from those students it enables to be authentic to themselves. The more support these students receive, whether at school, at home or in the community, the more they will thrive.
Aleph Melbourne looks forward to further initiatives from Mount Scopus Memorial College that actively demonstrate support for their LGBTIQ students and wishes the school a hearty congratulations for taking this first brave step.
Media contact: Michael Barnett – 0417-595-541
15 March 2013
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to email@example.com will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.
Note: the letters on this page refer to last week’s story Bialik to be a ‘safer’ school.
MAZAL tov to Safe Schools Coalition Victoria Jewish schools The King David School, Sholem Aleichem College and now Bialik.
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria is a coalition of schools and individuals dedicated to creating safer educational environments where same sex attracted and gender questioning young people are supported, where every family can belong, where every teacher can teach and every student can learn. I am proud of these schools for taking this proactive step. As a lesbian parent, it means so much for my children to know that they are safe, secure and included at school.
WE welcome Bialik College as a new member of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, in a week that also saw Geelong Grammar join us in showing their commitment to supporting diversity.
There are now 93 members of the coalition, from all sectors of the education system – government, independent, and religious. Our program works in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Health to actively support gender and sexual diversity in schools.
Research from Australia shows that it takes more than just general anti-bullying policies and practices to make schools truly inclusive. Increasing the visibility of gender and sexual diversity throughout the school, and inclusion across the curriculum, help to make young people feel not only safe, but able to be themselves.
We would love the opportunity to work with more Jewish schools to ensure that same sex attracted and gender diverse students, staff, and families that form part of all these school communities are not just free from bullying, but healthy and happy.
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria
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(250 words max and include not-for-publication contact details)
March 1 2013
ALEPH MELBOURNE CONGRATULATES BIALIK COLLEGE
ON JOINING SAFE SCHOOLS COALITION VICTORIA
Aleph Melbourne congratulates Bialik College on joining Safe Schools Coalition Victoria today. Bialik College is now the third Jewish day school in Victoria to join SSCV, following in the footsteps of long-standing member King David School and the more recent addition of Sholem Aleichem College.
Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said “Bialik College has shown true leadership in joining Safe Schools Coalition Victoria today. It is a sign of commitment and maturity by the school that it places the welfare of its students foremost. As a former student of Bialik College who struggled deeply with my sexuality during my high school years, I am confident my academic and social experience would have benefited by this type of initiative.”
Aleph Melbourne calls on all remaining Jewish day and after-hours schools to follow the leadership set by King David School, Bialik College and Sholem Aleichem College and similarly join SSCV. The health and well-being of the community’s children must not be sacrificed, especially during some of the most critical years of their lives.
Suicide and self-harm have been demonstrated to be a serious problem amongst same-sex attracted youth when they are not accepted and affirmed unconditionally, with elevated level of risk to the norm. The sooner all schools mitigate this risk by adopting “best practices” in regards to acceptance of diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status the better off the community will be.