Following is the latest news from Anti-Discrimination New South Wales:
Religious Discrimination Bill 2021
Late last year, ADNSW made a submission on the Commonwealth Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. Both Committees are due to report by 4 February 2022.
Although ADNSW welcomes the broad aims of the Bill to provide statutory protection to prohibit discrimination based on religious belief and activity, it is concerned the Bill does not strike the appropriate balance between protecting the human rights of freedom of thought and conscience, religion and belief and the protection of other fundamental human rights and equality before the law.
ADNSW also has concerns about the Bill:
- overriding state, territory and federal laws
- creating access to justice issues
- providing broader exceptions for religious bodies to discriminate
- limiting qualifying bodies to make conduct rules
- extending anti-discrimination protections to corporations associated with religious people.
Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021
Earlier this month, ADNSW made a submission on the Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021 to the Standing Committee on Social Issues.
The Bill proposes the new criminal offence of displaying a Nazi symbol by a public act. It further proposes that the offence would not apply if the ADNSW President has granted an exemption on the basis of being satisfied that the public act is to be done reasonably and in good faith for:
- academic, artistic, scientific or research purposes in the public interest, or
- other purposes in the public interest, including discussion or debate about and expositions of any act or matter.
Although ADNSW supports the criminalisation of the display of Nazi symbols – noting that such symbols are oppressive, hateful and threatening, not only to the Jewish community but to other minority groups protected under the Anti-Discrimination Act – it has major concerns about the legal, operational and practical implications of the exemption process proposed.
ADNSW is strongly of the view that any defences or exemptions to the criminal provisions are more properly contained within the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) itself and for consideration by the appropriate law enforcement and judicial processes that follow.
ADNSW attends ACYP’s Voices of Change breakfast
In December, members of ADNSW’s Community Engagement team attended the Advocate for Children and Young People’s Voices of Change breakfast.
The event featured an impressive line-up of inspiring guests, including:
- Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year
- Shahmin Shabbir, NSW Youth Advisory Council
- Madison De Rozario, Paralympian
- Taje Fowler, Regional Youth Taskforce
- Zara Seidler, The Daily Aus
- Sam Koslowski, The Daily Aus
- Grace Rowe.
ADNSW staff made great connections at the event and will soon be engaging with ACYP’s youth group on discrimination matters via a workshop.
COVID-19 vaccinations and anti-discrimination law
Although most premises in NSW are now open to everyone, some premises may make it a condition of entry that you are fully vaccinated. Further information is available on the NSW Government website.
The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) does not cover discrimination based on vaccination status unless a disability prevents you from getting a COVID-19 vaccination and you have evidence of this such as a medical exemption.
If you are a person with disability and believe you have been treated unfairly because you can’t get vaccinated, you may be able to make a complaint of disability discrimination. If you make a complaint on this basis, you will need to advise us of your disability and how it prevents you from getting vaccinated.