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What is your party’s position on the Commonwealth using its powers to ensure parents of children in government schools can exempt their children from any classes that are inconsistent with their moral or religious beliefs?

The Greens do not support an intervention by the Commonwealth into the state education systems to ensure exemptions from ‘morally inconsistent’ teachings. The Australian Greens support an education system that provides age-appropriate information to students, and training and resources to teachers, about respectful relationships and the diversity of sexuality, gender identity, intersex variations and family structures.


We support smaller government that interferes less in individual lives, but also interferes less in state responsibilities, like running schools. We do not support Commonwealth powers (eg funding provisions) being used to compel schools to act against their values or conscience.


 

In line with their responsibility for the delivery of school education, this is a matter for state and territory governments.

 


 

The Morrison Government’s commitment to striking an appropriate balance is clear in our proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. We have sought to overturn exemptions introduced by Labor so we can make clear that discrimination against students is not acceptable, while at the same time ensuring religious educational institutions can teach and maintain rules consistent with their faith.

The Government recognised that parents need to be informed and empowered in a way that allows them to exercise their rights to make informed decisions regarding when it is appropriate to exclude their children from any particular teaching in a class that is specifically inconsistent with that family’s morals or religious beliefs. It is also a feature of the Australian Federation that classroom attendance policies are primarily a matter for the States and Territories.

If re-elected, a Coalition Government will take a national leadership role by developing model Guidelines to form the basis of a national framework that regularises and makes clear parents’ and guardians’ rights to request the removal of a child from a class that contains instruction on religious or moral matters, to ensure their rights are consistently understood and applied in all Australian schools, regardless of jurisdiction.