View Australian Labor Party of Victoria Responses

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Public Christianity

1. Equal Opportunity - inherent requirements test

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 allows faith-based schools to prefer the employment of staff that share their faith and values.

Will your Party maintain the existing religious exemptions in the EO Act?

Australian Labor Party of Victoria

Our commitment is to reintroduce the reforms made to the Equal Opportunity Act in 2010, which went through an extensive consultation process taking almost three years, and were broadly supported by many stakeholders including the Catholic Church.

There were, in these reforms, certain exceptions to allow religious bodies, religious schools and individuals to discriminate in certain circumstances and strike a balance between the right to freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination. The religious exceptions were developed following extensive consultation with faith groups and the community.

Religious groups will continue to be able to discriminate on the grounds of religious belief or activity, sex, sexual orientation, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status and gender identity if the action conforms with the religion’s doctrines, beliefs or principles or is reasonably necessary to avoid injuring the religious sensitivities of the religion’s adherents.

Labor’s proposal to revisit the 2010 reforms will include the ability for religious bodies and schools to employ people of a particular faith and to require staff to adhere to the values of the organisation. However, where a religious school or body wishes to exclude a person from employment based on their attribute, they will have to show a closer nexus between the need to discriminate and the requirements of the particular job.

If a religious organisation wishes to discriminate in relation to employment, it will need to show that the discriminatory requirement is an inherent requirement of the particular position and that the person cannot meet that requirement because of an attribute. In considering whether a requirement is an inherent requirement, the nature of the religious body or school will be taken into account.

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2. Equal Opportunity - VHREOC own-motion powers

Extreme powers to investigate matters without having received a prior complaint were removed from the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 2011.

Will your Party commit to maintaining the existing law in this regard?

Australian Labor Party of Victoria

Whilst Labor has committed to the reintroduction of the inherent requirements test, we have made no commitments regarding the ability of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to commence own motion inquiries.

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3. Role for the Church

Christian charities and churches play an important public role in Victoria through the provision of education, welfare and health services.

What has your Party done to foster good relationships with religious communities, and how does it plan to work with them during the life of the next parliament?

Australian Labor Party of Victoria

The Labor Party has continuously engaged with different religious communities and stakeholder groups over the last four years. We always endeavour to foster good relationships with all stakeholders, including religious communities, regardless of whether Labor forms government or not.

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