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Australian Law Reform Commission to review religious exemptions for educational institutions

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

I have today formally asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to review religious exemptions for educational institutions in Federal anti-discrimination law.

Before the election we committed to tasking the ALRC with advising on the best way to protect staff in religious schools from discrimination at work, while maintaining the right of religious schools to preference people of their faith in the selection of staff. Today's referral delivers on that commitment.

The Government also committed to protecting all students from discrimination and this is reflected in the terms of reference.

To lead the ALRC's inquiry I have appointed the Hon Justice Stephen Rothman AM of the New South Wales Supreme Court as a part-time Commissioner. Justice Rothman is an eminent lawyer with a deep interest in and a longstanding involvement with the Jewish education sector. I consider him to be ideally placed to lead this inquiry.

I thank the New South Wales Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Speakman SC MP, and the Chief Justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court, the Hon Justice Andrew Bell, for facilitating Justice Rothman's appointment.

This ALRC inquiry is a crucial first step towards implementing the Albanese Government's commitment to extending anti-discrimination protections to more Australians, including to people of faith and to staff and students in religious schools.

As the terms of reference to the ALRC foreshadow, the Government remains committed to legislating to protect people of faith from discrimination and vilification. This legislation will be drafted in a manner that does not remove existing legal protections against other forms of discrimination.

The Albanese Government believes all Australians have the right to live their lives free of discrimination and we will seek to enhance protections in anti-discrimination law in a way that brings Australians together.

The ALRC will provide its advice to the Government by 21 April 2023.