The union has criticized the “statement of belief” in the religious bill for increasing stress and discrimination on the workforce.

A representative of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has attacked the government over the timing of the government. Religious discrimination bill “If we were going to discuss the split bill, it couldn’t have come at a worse moment,” he insisted.

Liam O’Brien, ACTU’s deputy secretary, claims that it took three years for the Australian coalition to introduce a traditional anti-discrimination bill to protect people of faith from religious discrimination, and is therefore currently being proposed. The bill is “confused” and “crowded”.

He argues that frontline workers were already stressed during the Omicron crisis, and the introduction of a bill with provisions that “statements of belief” should not be considered “discriminatory” at this time The law only brings more discrimination and suffering because it can nullify other discrimination.

Currently, the bill does not constitute a statement of belief as discrimination, but gives some protection to those of faith.

A statement of belief can be a religious belief that one holds in good faith and is made according to the doctrine, belief, or teaching of a religion.

For those who do not have a religious belief, the statement of their belief must be made in good faith and can involve those who do not have a religious belief.

However, this does not include statements that “harass, threaten, intimidate, or slander another person or group of people” and are therefore not protected by a sincere statement.

ACTU argued that the exclusion was a “horizontal bar” and said these statements could be provided in various forms, such as pamphlets and posters. Therefore, the impact on the workforce may be unpredictable when compared to traditional anti-discrimination legislation similar to other laws on sexual orientation, age and disability.

Lori-Anne Sharp, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary and Representative of the Australian Federation of Nursing and Midwives (ANMF), said that providing a non-discriminatory “statement of belief” could increase stress for health care workers. I agreed.

“It only adds a great deal of pain, confusion, and lack of self-confidence to the general public and clinicians,” she told the Joint Committee.

Sharp argues that nurses and midwives must adhere to the code of conduct that is with them “at the end of the shift,” and a statement of belief can disrupt a patient’s confidence in the clinician. I was worried about that.

She may not trust religious clinicians at their discretion for non-religious patients and will take disciplinary action based on a belief protection statement provided by the governing body.

The bill “affects the provision of medical services, especially undermining public health confidence,” Sharp said.

Sharp also raised concerns that the bill might allow employees to leave religious groups based on the religious or non-religious beliefs of their staff. Currently, many of the union’s caregivers work in religiously-based elderly care, and Sharp is concerned that certain employees may be discriminated against because they missed beliefs or opportunities in the workplace. Said that.

Currently, the bill allows the invalidation of state and territory discrimination laws only on the issue of hiring employees based on how schools equate with school teachings and spirits. Currently, all other religious groups do not have this provision.

However, Mark Sneddon, a lawyer and managing director of the Institute for Civil and Social Studies, argued that the bill was not sufficiently covered and that it was “too timid” to allow religious schools a “preference” provision. .. In addition, Sneddon argued that it was important for all religious groups to prioritize recruitment.

Sneddon argued that having a preference was not “religious discrimination”, but the same as a political party preferring to hire people who equated it with the party’s philosophy.

He also challenged the union’s claim that a statement of belief would cause further discrimination and stress within the workforce, stating that the clause “collected a great deal of false information and criticism.”

“It is widely said that this provision protects the expression of belief in every way.”

However, he reasoned that this provision only protects the expression of beliefs from the Discrimination and Anti-Discrimination Act, as well as other prescribed legislation on discrimination.

Sneddon argued that those who opposed this clause still forgot that employer sanctions, employment contract violations, employer code of conduct violations, and academic regulatory violations still apply.

He also argued that the need for exclusions and statements to be made “in good faith” serve as a second limitation.

“Some of the dissenting opinions there are: Nurses tell HIV patients that AIDS is a divine punishment, or people with disabilities have disabilities in girls with disabilities because of the devil. Is wrong. “

“It is very unlikely that such a statement will go through the challenge of being honest. It is not malicious and will not harass, intimidate, intimidate or blame,” he said.

He infers that if a statement does not fit into any category, it is only protected from discrimination complaints, not from employer complaints about violations of the Code of Conduct, and not from breach of contract. Did. All of this applies to the workforce.

“The idea that these statements are made without the consequences or sanctions of those who do it is fantasy, and I’m glad that those who continue to make those claims stop it,” he concludes. rice field.

A general investigation into the Religious Discrimination Bill ended on Friday, January 14, and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights said February 4th..

Marina Chan


Marina Chan is a Melbourne-based Australian reporter with a focus on Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]