Positive Changes on ACT Discrimination Bill – But More Work Needed
While welcoming some of the changes in the Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022 (ACT) tabled today, Christian schools are calling on the ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheney to do more to modernise the law and embed best practices.
‘The ACT Government has been forced by the overwhelming response from the Canberra community to make sensible changes addressing some of the problems in the Exposure Draft’, said Mark Spencer, Director of Public Policy at Christian Schools Australia, ‘and we welcome these simple and practical amendments’.
‘However, the draft Bill still fails to incorporate a number of very positive and straightforward proposals that would better align the Discrimination Act with the Human Rights Act and international human rights law’, he said.
The submission from Christian Schools Australia to the review of the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT) included draft amendments addressing the ACT Government goal to ‘modernise our discrimination laws and put the ACT at the forefront of best practice’. These draft amendments included:
- Amendments to the objects as recommended by the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom,
- Inclusion of interpretative principles as recommended by the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom and supported by a NSW Parliamentary Committee,
- An updated definition of discrimination reflecting the language of the United Nations Human Rights Committee,
- A range of balancing provisions clarifying the coverage of the Act and balancing of human rights in accordance with Australia’s responsibilities under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
‘It is incredibly disappointing that in a jurisdiction that claims to prioritise human rights that these foundational building blocks of a just and equitable human rights framework have been ignored’, Mr Spencer said.
‘We are calling on the ACT Government and all members of the Legislative Assembly to look carefully at the Bill and the straightforward measures we proposed’.
‘Let’s take the opportunity to truly modernise the Territory’s discrimination laws and ensure human rights are properly protected’.