CALL FOR GRASSROOTS SUBMISSIONS TO THE REVIEW ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Thank you for standing with us on the important issue of Religious Freedoms following the amendments to the Marriage Act which now includes Same Sex Marriage. As most of you are aware a Federal Government review into religious freedom in Australia is currently underway, with public submissions closing on 14 February.  The Review Panel, chaired by the Hon. Philip Ruddock, has been asked to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion.

More than 1,500 submissions have already been received, many of them arising from letter-writing campaigns from groups that are hostile to religion and the freedom to express it.  It is vitally important that we also make our voices heard.  Although we are participating in the continuing work on the Freedom for Faith submission it is important that Churches and individuals make their own submission.  Therefore, we are encouraging you to undertake two discrete activities in response to the Ruddock Review:

* Encouraging your Church to prepare and present its own submission and, 

* Encouraging and assisting you and your friends to make their own individual submissions.

 

Following are some points that people may draw from in making a submission. It is important however that you re-word them in your own words so that they are not seen to be a “form” submission. You do not have to cover all points in your submission but where possible should focus on why religious freedom matters personally, rather than hypothetical situations or overseas experience. Please take immediate steps to make your own submission and encourage others in your sphere of influence to do like-wise. The deadline for lodgement is just 2 weeks away from now.  Short submissions are an effective way of highlighting your concerns. A few well-made points are better than a long rambling submission. 

Some possible points to include in submissions by individuals:

1.         Freedom of religion means much more to me that “freedom to worship”. It includes the freedom to express my faith in my everyday life, the freedom to participate, as people of faith, in the life of our nation (e.g., running faith-based schools and welfare agencies. [Relate this to your personal circumstance/job/experience, if possible]

2.         There is very little formal legal protection of freedom of religion in Australia. Religious Freedom is under threat from anti-discrimination laws that have the effect of restricting religious speech (e.g., Archbishop Porteous in Tasmania) or which limit religious institutions in preferencing the employment of staff who support the religious ethos of the institution (e.g., the current proposals before the NT government).

3.         People of faith whether Christian, Hindi, Jew, Muslim or any other are not protected from discrimination in Federal anti-discrimination law based on their religion.  It is inconsistent that age, disability, race, sex, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation are all protected attributes, but religious belief is not. [e.g. as a Christian parent, it is important to me that I am able to raise my child in accordance with my Christian beliefs. I believe parents should have the right to withdraw children from certain classes if what is being taught is against our religious beliefs.]

4.         I think that the Panel should recommend specific protection to recognise or enable:

            The right of religious bodies (including schools) to recruit staff who share the religious ethos of the institution.

            An anti-detriment provision that prevents government funding / charity registration / other accreditations being tied to a test that disqualifies a religious body due to religious belief.

            The right of parents or guardians to “ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”

            Protection for freedom of expression of religious beliefs.

            Protection against compulsion to perform acts which are contrary to conscience or belief, e.g., doctors being forced to perform abortions or to euthanise a patient.

            Protection for marriage celebrants who are not ministers of religion.

 

We cannot overstate the importance of participation in this Review.  If we don’t stand up now, the next few years will be incredibly difficult for all of us. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Michael Stead

Chairman

Coalition for Marriage

Source: Coalition for Marriage

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REVIEW OF FAMILY LAW SYSTEM

The first comprehensive review of family law in nearly half a century will examine how to make the system faster and less adversarial. The Australian Law Reform Commission will conduct the review in response to criticism of the system from people who have gone through it, child and family violence advocates, parental rights campaigners, lawyers and former members of the judiciary. The review was first announced in the May budget last year but the terms of reference were only recently released. The Attorney General said the review was “necessary and long overdue” because “Australian families and their needs have significantly evolved since the 1970s” when the Family Law Act came into operation.

A coalition of groups says a royal commission is the only mechanism to adequately address the problems with the family law system. Some of the groups that called for a royal commission include child protection organisation Bravehearts, Lone Fathers, the National Council for Single Mothers and Children, and the Luke Batty Foundation. Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said the family law system was a “toxic institution” and only a royal commission was “capable of overcoming the constitutional, legal and jurisdictional hurdles” that prevented its problems from being thoroughly examined.

The president of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona McLeod, welcomed the review and said it was vital a lack of resources for the courts and legal aid was addressed. “We are seeing families come before the courts, firstly for an interim hearing before a judge who has 30 cases on their list with 10 to 20 minutes to decide each of those cases, and those outcomes can last until final orders are made. You might have a child of 6 months come before the court for a determination about who they live with and it is not until they are two or three years old until a final determination is made. That places enormous pressure on families already under pressure because of breakdowns, financial and emotional pressure,” Ms McLeod said.

Ms McLeod called for an immediate funding injection to help the legal system deal with its staggering case load. She pointed to the example of a judge appointed to the Federal Circuit Court earlier this year who was immediately handed 500 cases, as well as the slow replacement rate of retiring judges.

The Attorney General hinted there could be more funding for the overstretched courts and acknowledged that “we have put more judges into the system to deal with family law”. Professor Rhoades, professor at Melbourne Law School and former chair of the Family Law Council, will complete the report by the end of March 2019.

Source: Fatherhood Foundation

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PRO-LIFERS BACK INQUIRY INTO BABY DEATHS

Pro-life groups FamilyVoice Australia and the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life have endorsed a call by the Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Goiran, for an inquiry into the death of 27 unborn babies who survived abortion in recent years. He presented a petition to the Upper House of the Western Australian State Parliament late last year, signed by more than 7,000 people and sponsored jointly by the pro-life groups. “A Parliamentary inquiry is urgently needed,” said FamilyVoice WA Director and Coalition spokesman Darryl Budge. “The Department of Health totally failed to report those deaths to the Coroner, and the Ombudsman apparently has no jurisdiction in the matter,” he said.

“No one contacted the Department of Child Protection” Budge said. “Parliament must enact urgently needed reforms and a tightening of government policy to protect unborn babies that survive abortion.” The inquiry should also investigate disability discrimination, Mr Budge said. “Many babies are aborted simply because they are diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Spina Bifida.”

Source: FamilVoice Australia

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BIBLE READING MARATHONS IN SOME CITIES

If you would like to participate in the public reading of God’s word there will be opportunities in some cities across Australia in coming weeks to do so. If you live in the cities mentioned below and wish to be involved in the Marathon please contact the people mentioned at the email addresses given for details of how you can be involved.

 

SYDNEY – 3rd February till 10th February

There will be no central reading location in Sydney this year. If you wish to be involved and you live in Sydney you are asked to seek the Lord as to what section of the word you are to read and chose a venue where you and some friends can read the word publicly as the Lord directs.  For enquiries regarding Sydney please contact Robyn at mayimhayim@tpg.com.au    

 

CANBERRA –  8th February till 11th February (first sitting week of parliament)

Contact Teresa at teresads58@gmail.com    

BRISBANE – 6pm 9th February till approx. 6pm 12th February

Contact Graham and Linda at brisbanebiblereadingmarathon@gmail.com

MELBOURNE – 14th February till 17th February

Contact Jenny at jjackblik@gmail.com or Geraldine at groelink@live.com.au

NEWCASTLE –  14th February till 17th February

Contact Dianne at dapci1972@gmail.com

If you don’t live in any of the cities listed, then please consider reading the word aloud in your local park, or on a nearby high place or beach, or anywhere the Lord directs you to.  Join with others and enjoy it together.

Isaiah 55:11: so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Source: Marathon Organisers

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