AACS was invited to speak to the Parliamentary Public Hearing for the Inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights Framework which is reviewing the scope and effectiveness of the 2010 Human Rights Framework and the National Human Rights Action Plan.
Vanessa Cheng appeared alongside Mike Southon from Freedom for Faith and Bishop Michael Stead, Anglican Bishop of South Sydney.
As part of her opening statement Vanessa said, “The sustained strength and popularity of faith-based schools with Australian parents is a powerful testimony to the need for continued recognition and protection of the fundamental human right of religious freedom and association in this country.”
She also stated that “There has been a trend in recent years for state, territory, and federal governments to completely remove or severely restricting the legal protections religious schools rely upon to employ staff who are aligned to the vision and mission of the school.”
When answering the questions from the committee, Vanessa shared our concerns that what is essentially being proposed via a Human Rights act is a weakening of religious freedom protections and also the rights of parents to raise their children according to their religious and moral convictions compared to the standard set by Article 18 in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Australia is a signatory.
At the end of the session the Chair of the Inquiry, Mr Josh Burns MP, stated that he appreciated the submissions from each of the groups.
The National Catholic Education Commission appeared immediately following AACS and also confirmed their concerns about the current proposal for a Human Rights Act.