Religious Discrimination Bill: implications for universities

IRU response to draft Religious Discrimination Bill 2019
Freedom of religion Freedom of speech Higher education Australia

The stated intent of the Religious Discrimination Bill is to “protect against discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity”. Universities strongly support this principle. To the IRU’s knowledge, there is no serious suggestion of a problem with religious freedom on campus.

In this submission the IRU highlights two areas where the provisions of Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 could conflict with the effective operation of a university:

  • where expression of religious beliefs counters educational outcomes
  • how best to assess whether an employee’s use of religiously based statements or acts has done sufficient harm to the university to justify action against the employee.

A practical implication of the Bill for universities is that they will need to review their current codes of conduct and other relevant policies to ensure consistency of purpose and implementation.

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