We thank the panel for undertaking the important task of examining whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion. In this submission, we will briefly explain the Australian Chinese perspective and why religious freedom is important to our community, give current examples from our supporters of how religious freedom is under threat in Australia, explain what religious freedom mean to us, and conclude with our recommendations to the panel.
The Australian Chinese perspective on religious freedom
Why is religious freedom important to the Australian Chinese community? Although our community does include many people of faith (mainly Christian, Buddhism and Taoism), religious freedom is of concern to all members of our community – including people of no faith. Religious freedom is, of course, one of the fundamental principles of a free society and therefore important to everyone; but to our community, this is an issue that we are particularly concerned about because many of our members come from countries where religious freedom is restricted. Many in our community have been the recipients of persecution by the government because of our religious beliefs; indeed, some of us now call Australia home for this reason. Many of us have seen first-hand what a society is like without religious freedom, and therefore we are particularly sensitive to signs that a society is moving towards this direction.
South Australian secondary schools will be replacing the controversial Safe Schools program with a broader anti-bullying program in reaction to pushback from concerned parents.
After the federal government stopped funds for Safe Schools in October, it was up to state governments to decide whether they wanted to continue the program.
Labor governments in the ACT and Victoria continued their own versions of the program without the modifications put in place following a federal government review, while New South Wales and Tasmania decided to replace it. In Queensland, local schools have been allowed to continue the program, but have to find their own funds to do so.
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政府任命了以Hon Phillip Ruddock为主席的专家小组，负责审核澳大利亚现行法律是否为宗教自由人权提供合理的保护。该小组现在接受公众的意见书，提交意见书的截止时间是2018年2月14日星期三下班之前。
As many of you already know, the same-sex marriage legislation that passed Parliament late last year did not contain any significant amendments to protect the religious freedom of many Australians.
Instead, the government postponed the issue for consideration this year.
The expert panel that the government has appointed, chaired by the Hon Phillip Ruddock, has been asked to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right of freedom of religion. This panel is receiving submissions until the end of business on Wednesday, 14th February 2018.
Friends, this is our chance to make our concerns clear to the government. ACF will be making a submission, but we also need as many individuals as possible to write their own personal submission to this review.
These submissions should be written in your own words – not using templates – and, where possible, should focus on why religious freedom matters personally to you, rather than using hypothetical situations or overseas experiences.
The Expert Panel on Religious Freedom
C/O Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
Canberra ACT 2600
The options for making a submission are:
- Submissions made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Online submissions: https://pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/religious-freedom-review/submission; or
- Written submissions may also be lodged by posting them to:
The Expert Panel on Religious Freedom
C/O Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
Canberra ACT 2600
The panel is expected to report its findings to the Prime Minister by 31st March 2018.
Here are some ideas for you to use as you write your own submission. Please remember to write in your own words and include personal examples. We have included some examples below that may help you with your writing.
Examples of how freedom of religion is important:
- For being allowed to voice my Christian (or other faiths) beliefs and not be forced to act against my beliefs at my workplace.
- For being protected from having my professional license / registration taken away because of voicing out my Christian (or other faith’s) beliefs (e.g. on marriage and sexual education in schools, euthanasia etc.)
- To not have my children be forced to undertake sexual and ideological education against their family's belief at a government school.
To have the freedom to choose a Christian (or other faith’s) education taught by Christian teachers.
[e.g. as a Christian parent, it is important to me that I’m able to raise my child in accordance with my Christian beliefs. I believe parents should have the right to withdraw children from certain classes if what is being taught is against our religious beliefs, and that parents should have the choice to go to a faith-based school that has the freedom to teach according to its religious values]
- For religious institutions to not be coerced into providing services and facilities for events that are against its core religious values, and for the right of religious bodies (including schools) to recruit staff who share the religious ethos of the institution.
These religious institutions should not be forced to choose between compromising their religious values or lose government funding as they provide essential services and a strong community for a substantial part of the population.
- For the freedom to contribute to society through being involved with charities that are run according to my faith.
I believe in the rights of charities to have freedom in relation to their policies and practices to act according to their core religious beliefs.
Remember, please give examples from your personal life.
The need for positive formal legal protection of freedom of religion in Australia
There is very little formal legal protection of freedom of religion in Australia.
Religious Freedom is under threat from anti-discrimination laws that have the effect of restricting religious speech. People of faith whether Christian, Buddhists, Hindi, Jew, Muslim or any other are not protected from discrimination in Federal anti-discrimination law based on their religion. It is inconsistent that age, disability, race, sex, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation are all protected attributes, but religious belief is not.
I am concerned at the development of anti-discrimination laws which, in my view, continue to place certain interests above those of religious belief; religious belief should not be an exception, but rather a substantive, recognised right.
Explain the environment of your work / school / community where you can see that freedom of speech is under threat from anti-discrimination law and why, instead of putting in exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, which can be rolled back by future unsympathetic governments, that positive legislations that actively protect religious freedom is required.
Recommendations to the panel:
I believe freedom of religious speech should be protected in the same way that other attributes are currently protected under Federal anti-discrimination laws.
I believe that the government should provide an anti-detriment provision that prevents government employment or professional registrations to be removed from individuals because of their religious beliefs. Individuals should have the right to express their religious views on same-sex marriage and other issues without detrimental effects to their employment and professional registration.
I believe that the government should provide an anti-detriment provision that prevents government funding / charity registration / other accreditations being tied to a test that disqualifies a religious body due to religious belief.
I believe that the government should put in place protection against compulsion to perform acts which are contrary to conscience or belief – e.g., doctors being forced to perform abortions or to euthanise a patient.
I believe the government should protect the right of parents or guardians to ensure that the religious and moral education of their children are in conformity with their own family and religious values.
I believe the government should protect the rights of ministers of religion, churches and religious institutions to act according to their religious beliefs and be allowed to employ staff who share their religious values.
Thank you, and give consent for publishing
Thank the panel for this chance to contribute to this important review and give your consent for your submission to be published by the panel among its default, public list of submissions received.
Please share this information to others who you know are concerned about this important matter.
This is an action we should all take together to obtain the best outcome for religious freedom in our country.
A controversial Safe Schools program aimed at tackling bullying and self-harm in South Australian secondary schools will be scrapped by the Liberal party should it win the March 17 election, replaced by a broader anti-bullying program primarily focused on online attacks.
The proposed move follows that of Liberal governments in NSW and Tasmania, which have wound back similar programs and implemented a broader approach to counter bullying.
Federal funding for state-based anti-homophobia programs ended in October, leaving state governments responsible for funding it if they wanted it to continue or to draft their own programs.
Labor states have shown a willingness to continue funding the Safe Schools program, including South Australia and the ACT, and Victoria where the Daniel Andrews government committed to fully funding its own version of the program.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Paluszczuk has ruled out funding the program, leaving schools who want to take part to fund their involvement through their own finances.Read more
The future of the Safe Schools program is up in the air with Labor leaders split on the program and NSW Labor leader Luke Foley ruling out supporting its reintroduction.
The NSW Opposition Leader has rejected a return of the sexual and gender diversity program under a NSW Labor government, arguing that it does little to stop bullying.
“I want to be clear, the Safe Schools program will not return,” Mr Foley told The Daily Telegraph in Sydney.
“Schools have a role to stop bullying — but what I won’t have is some theory that comes from a university sociology course doing it. That’s not helping to stop bullying.”Read more
During the postal survey period, the “No” campaign repeatedly warned that there would be consequences to the redefinition of marriage. But we did not imagine we would start to see them so fast!
Same-sex marriage legislation was passed as law less than two weeks ago, and the LGBTI lobby has already begun to move onto “bigger” plans. Here are some of the agendas we have seen pushed by the gay lobby after taking the gender requirement out of marriage:Read more
The same-sex marriage bill passed in the Parliament without any amendments for protections for freedoms and parental rights yesterday evening.
During the postal survey, we were repeated told by "Yes" campaigners that the survey was only about one question and one question only -- whether people thought gay couples should marry. They repeatedly claimed that this question had nothing to do with religious freedom and parental rights, and that the Parliament would deal with these issues when it came time to pass legislation.
Over the last two weeks, the parliament completely failed to address these important issues - potentially compromising the core values underlying our democratic society.Read more
It is one of the lessons of history that the actions of small-minded men often will bring about great calamities. Sometimes the calamities are the result of the gradual encroachment of control, of the loss of liberty, the loss of the ability to think things through, the triumph of the thought police.
The furore over religious liberty is about more than the loss of a few seats or government. The political landscape is verging on chaos because of the ambition of Malcolm Turnbull and his lefty acolytes in the Liberal Party.Read more
This week has been a disappointing one.
The legislation for same-sex marriage has been debated in the Senate over the past week, and, unfortunately, the amendments to the Dean Smith bill to protect freedom of speech, conscience, religion and parental rights have been defeated.
Labor senators voted as a bloc against these freedoms, and even though the majority of Liberal senators were supportive of these amendments, six Liberal MPs voted against them with the Greens and the Labor senators, leading to its defeat.