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New protections from discrimination must protect school staff


The Independent Education Union (IEU) welcomes Labor’s proposed private members’ bill to Federal Parliament to remove religious schools’ rights to discriminate against LGBTQI students in the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.

However, the IEU strongly urges the Opposition to fight for an end to all discrimination against school staff on all grounds, whether about sexuality, marital status (including divorce), accessing IVF, and any other factors.

The union believes that current industrial legislation is adequate to deal with employment disputes.

“Incidences of discrimination against students by schools are quite rare, whereas discrimination against staff is a real and live thing which we at the union, representing such staff, deal with from time to time,” Federal President IEUA and NSW/ACT Branch Secretary John Quessy said.

“This is career threatening and life changing discrimination that can have a profound effect on teachers and support staff,”
John Quessy, Federal President IEUA and NSW/ACT Branch Secretary

“In this day and age we still have a situation where teachers and support staff feel it necessary to hide details of their home life from their employers. Surely we must review these 40 year old NSW exemptions now and include all members of society.

“Gay students need to see good role models in action to thrive and develop into successful adults, and we are depriving them of that opportunity at school.

“Our belief is that the Act and the exemptions do not reflect community standards and are long overdue for review.

“I do not accept that independent schools, including faith based schools, are so fragile that they need to be exempt from the law.

“Nor do I believe that enrolments would suffer or the ethos be undermined. Some states do not provide exemptions for religious schools and those schools are flourishing and enrolments continue to grow.

“I wrote to the NSW Premier last month about this review and I am still awaiting a response on this important issue.”

Supporting documents

Hansard Transcript: Legislative exemptions that allow faith based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff.
The IEU’s submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs – Report on Legislative exemptions


Further comment:
John Quessy, Federal President IEUA, Secretary IEUA NSW/ACT Branch, mobile 0429 919 315

Media contacts:
Sue Osborne (02) 8202 8900 sue@ieu.asn.auBronwyn Ridgway (a/h) 0433 373 109

IEUA represents 70,000 teachers, principals and support staff in Catholic and independent schools, early childhood centres and post secondary colleges nationally. In NSW and the ACT the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents over 30,000 members.