QLD anti-discrimination act changes deeply disappointing for teachers and staff in faith-based schools

EducationDaily
EducationDaily

The union representing more than 17,000 teachers and staff in Queensland’s non-government sector has expressed deep disappointment over the failure to remove religious discrimination exemptions for faith-based schools in the revised Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act.

Independent Education Union—Queensland and Northern Territory (IEU-QNT) Branch Secretary Terry Burke says the union had strongly advocated for the removal of these exemptions.

“That religious exemptions have been retained in the revised Bill introduced to Queensland Parliament on Friday (14 June 2024) is deeply distressing to our union and staff in faith-based schools,” Burke says.

“These changes are needed to reflect community norms and the reality of modern life. It is outrageous to have women undergoing IVF treatment sacked from a non-government school because they want to have a child. The community has moved on, and we need legislation to reflect that.”

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Faith-based schools must evolve

Burke says the Northern Territory government removed religious discrimination exemptions from its Anti-Discrimination Act in late 2022, adding that “nothing disastrous has occurred”.

“Faith-based schools are still operating, staff are still doing their jobs, and students continue to receive high-quality education,” he says.

“IEU members should have the same rights in Queensland. The vast majority of faith-based schools are more than capable of operating in the absence of these exemptions.”

Burke says the Queensland Government “should remove these exemptions as part of changes to the Act to ensure the legislation better reflects community standards and expectations, particularly given many faith-based organisations receive public funds”.

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Mr Burke says employers still had opportunity, at point of engagement, to determine if an employee was suitable for the position advertised.

“That has always been the case – what needs to change is that an employer cannot exclude someone from consideration just because of who they are.”

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