The Australian Law Reform Commission issued a consultation paper in January outlining a way forward for implementing the Albanese Government’s election commitment to provide ‘greater protections’ for LGBTQ+ teachers and students in faith-based schools.
The ALRC’s proposals sent shock waves through the Muslim and Christian school communities.
Among the key recommendations was that faith-based schools should no longer be allowed to give preference to applicants who share the faith on which the school is based, with the exception of where the staff’s role is to teach, observe or practice the religion as part of their formal role.
Likewise it recommended that faith-based schools should no longer be able to require students and staff to adhere to the sexual morality as taught by the faith on which the school is based.
At ACL we wasted no time and set up our Save Our Christian Schools Campaign. We are now asking groups of volunteers to visit their Federal MPs and highlight to them why the proposed way forward would make it impossible to maintain a faith-based school in Australia.
We are finding that many Federal MPs were unaware of the proposals and had not considered the impact that the proposals would have on Christian schools.
The first meetings have been held with MPs in Western Australia and in Queensland, some with very positive outcomes. Mr Sam Lim (Labor), the Federal Member for Tangney (WA) was recently visited by a delegation made up of teachers from Christian schools, young people who had attended a Christian school, and parents who sent their children to Christian schools. He was very attentive and gave the group over an hour of his time and was keen to hear their stories and concerns.
In Queensland our volunteers have been off to a flying start, having visited four MPs – Angie Bell (Moncrieff), Terry Young (Longman), Stuart Robert (Fadden) and Graham Perrett (Moreton) and have been able to make their voices heard through delegations varying in size from 4 to 11! In Victoria there have also been meetings with Brendan O’Connor (Gorton) and Tim Watt (Gellibrand).
The stories that have proved to be very helpful are those which highlight that a teacher is not simply a machine that imparts impartial knowledge, but that a teacher’s worldview and beliefs have a big impact on students.
One former student shared how her conversations about faith and life with the school gardener over the years at her school had a profoundly positive impact on her life. Teachers also shared how the interactions they have with students outside of the classroom are very formative for students.
- If you are a teacher in a Christian school, or a past student or a parent who sent their children to a Christian school, we invite you to register your interest in being part of a delegation in your electorate by emailing [email protected] and indicate your electorate.
- If you have not already done so, go to the ACL website and send a prepared email to the Prime Minister, the Education Minister and their shadow counterparts. It only takes a couple of minutes.
- Please share your positive experiences at Christian schools on this new website: MyChristianSchool.au.