What changes are proposed for Christian schools?

Christian schools employ Christian staff. People who believe Christian teachings and seek to live in accordance with these beliefs. They serve their students as a way of living out those beliefs. 

When teachers and staff live out their faith, it creates a unique culture and school experience that an increasing number of Australian parents choose for their children.

From 2023, this could all be lost. Especially if proposals in a discussion paper from the Australian Law Reform Commission are put into practice.

Wait, how did we get here?

In November 2022, the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, referred the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to consider potential reforms to Federal anti-discrimination laws and how they apply to educational institutions.

On 21 January 2023, the ARLC released a Consultation Paper with “proposals for changing the way Commonwealth anti-discrimination law applies to religious schools and other educational institutions.”

These proposals are massive. What will these changes mean? Here’s what some other groups are saying. 

The Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales:

The proposals in the Commission’s paper will compromise the ability of Christian schools to provide what many Christian parents desire for their families, and thus will undermine the liberty of parents to raise their children in consistency with their Christian faith.

The Institute of Public Affairs:

The ALRC’s proposals would give government bodies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission powers to control what faith-based schools do and say.

In short, as Associate Professor in law, Neil Foster notes:

“…when we come to the substantive recommendations, what we find is that at almost every point, balancing clauses currently in force to allow religious schools and colleges to operate in accordance with their faith, are to be abolished.”

Christian teachers and staff are the heart of Christian schools. By removing the ability of Christian schools to hire people who live and breathe the Christian faith, the Government is removing the very heart of what makes Christian schools special. 

There is still time to speak up.

The ALRC is now reviewing submissions and must provide its report to the Attorney-General by 21 April 2023.

What can you do?