Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 2 October 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.
Do you have any news items, campaigns, petitions, webinars or other event notices that could be added to our weekly Wrap? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the National Level
Recriminations have continued to flow over the defeat of controversial candidate Katherine Deves at the May election, with Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg telling local members the way they were treated by the party ahead of polling day was a “complete disgrace” and “outrage”. Deves sufferred a resounding defeat to independent MP Zali Steggall in Tony Abbott’s previously safe blue-ribbon seat on Sydney’s northern beaches. The women’s sport activist was handpicked by former prime minister Scott Morrison just a week before he called the election. She became a central figure in the campaign after a provocative series of past tweets about transgender issues were revealed. (25 Sep 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald
National LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia and April Long have lodged a formal complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging that the Assistant Treasurer (at the time, a position held by Minister Michael Sukkar) and the ABS unlawfully discriminated against April, their family and other LGBTIQ+ people by failing to properly count LGBTIQ+ people in the 2021 Census. (27 Sep 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth
A Victorian senator who voted against territories being able to legislate for euthanasia four years ago says her father's death has changed her mind on the practice. Senator Jane Hume said her father's death under Victoria's voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws had changed her views. The Senate is currently considering removing a federal veto that prevents the ACT and the Northern Territory from debating euthanasia laws. (28 Sep 2022)
Read more at ABC News
The Greens have established a new Senate inquiry to look at how easy or hard it is for people to access abortion services and contraception in Australia — particularly those living in regional and remote areas. The Senate voted in favour of Greens spokesperson on women Larissa Waters' motion on Wednesday afternoon to create the inquiry, with a report due back by the end of March 2023. (28 Sep 2022)
Read more at ABC News
The Senate has voted 30-23 in favour of a Labor motion to open Senate proceedings with the Acknowledgement of Country instead of Christian prayers, and to insert a new preamble to the prayers. Before reading aloud two prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, the President of the Senate will now invite senators “to pray or reflect in your own way on your responsibilities to the people of Australia and to future generations”. (29 Sep 2022)
Read more at the RSA
Around the Country
SA: South Australia's Catholic Church banked at least $57 million in funding intended to keep school staff employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Corporate governance researcher Dean Paatsch said many schools' incomes ultimately increased, exclusive of JobKeeper. The schools remitted unused funding to the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, which oversees Catholic Education SA. (26 Sep 2022)
Read more at ABC News
NSW: Sydney based activist groups announced plans to protest the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Sydney this weekend. They describe CPAC as “one of the main gatherings and organising places for the far-right figures”, saying it “will be a hub of transphobes, racists, fascists and bigots.” The long list of guest speakers includes anti-immigration campaigner Nigel Farage, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, One Nation’s NSW leader Mark Latham, as well as federal senators Matt Canavan, Jacinta Price, Alex Antic and Malcolm Roberts. (27 Sep 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth
TAS: Equality Tasmania says the Government has not gone far enough to protect same-sex partners from discrimination by the state’s coroner. On Thursday the government introduced a miscellaneous justice amendment bill that responds to the coroner’s failure to recognise the existing next-of-kin rights of bereaved same-sex partners, most notoriously Hobart gay man, Ben Jago. Jago’s partner of five years, Nathan Lunson, died suddenly in January 2015. Despite the two men being legal senior next-of-kin under Tasmanian law, the coroner misapplied the law and recognised Lunson’s estranged mother as his senior next-of-kin. Jago was refused the right to see his partner’s body and initially refused access to his partner’s funeral. (29 Sep 2022)
Read more at Out at Perth
WA: At a meeting on 20 September, Bayswater councillors voted 6-3 to give $40,000 directly to public schools for pastoral care instead of to YouthCARE, which had received more than $500,000 from Bayswater ratepayers in the past 10 years to fund Christian-only chaplains. Councillor Giorgia Johnson argued it would not be right for council to continue funding religious-based discrimination through YouthCARE. (1 Oct 2022)
Read more at the RSA
VIC: Victorian deaths from Voluntary Assisted Dying have increased by nearly a third over the last year, according to a VAD Review Board report released by the Victorian Government. In the 2021-22 reporting period 269 people died under the scheme, an increase from 204 in the previous reporting period, bringing the total number of people who have died from euthanasia in Victoria to 604 since it was instituted. (1 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly
NSW: Primary school children have come back from the pandemic more anxious than ever, but new data reveals 1,688 NSW schools still don’t have a fulltime school counsellor. Internal education department data obtained by NSW Labor has revealed that 328 of the schools have access to a counsellor for just two hours per week. (1 Oct 2022)
Read more at the Daily Telegraph
Commentary and Analysis
Elenie Poulos – Did the Morrison government change the relationship between religion and politics in Australia?: "The ABC recently reported on the “infiltration” of Liberal Party branches in regional Victoria by Pentecostals, on a mission to influence Liberal Party positions on so-called morality issues such as abortion and LGBTIQ+ rights. This isn’t a new development. In the middle of 2021, the Liberal Party memberships of hundreds of people linked to Pentecostal churches in South Australia created significant controversy and led to an internal investigation. And in 2018, concerns were being raised about the growing influence of the Christian Right in the WA Liberal Party. Perhaps Scott Morrison’s federal party leadership and the election win of 2019 has served to embolden like-minded Christians to become more involved in political parties." (25 Sep 2022)
Read more at The Conversation
Neil Foster – Legal issues arising for Christian schools in NSW: "This paper has been prepared to provide an overview of legal issues arising for schools conducted in accordance with the principles of the Christian faith, in NSW. It addresses areas where they may be a conflict between the teachings of the Bible on sexual morality, sexuality and gender identity, and the majority views of the community, and in particular challenges that might be faced under discrimination laws." (29 Sep 2022)
Read more at Law and Religion Australia
Tom Orren – The religious school funding decision that flouted the Constitution: "A 1981 High Court decision to allow the funding of religious schools was a bad move that fractured Australia's education system. The best evidence of all that that High Court ruling was wrong is the answer to a simple question: “Has the public funding of religious schools helped in ‘establishing any religion’ in Australia?” There is only one answer to that — “Yes!” It has led to a mushrooming of fee-paying, religious schools of dozens of different faiths. These have split communities and segregated children on the basis of religion and income — the exact opposite of what the “Founding Fathers” intended. The worst fears of Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) have been realised. Australia is a more divided and less egalitarian country because of that decision." (30 Sep 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia
Mike Seccombe – IPA has lost all funding from ASX 100: "The fact that corporate Australia now has largely abandoned the IPA – although the Murdochs, whose business is listed offshore, are still supporters, as is mining magnate Gina Rinehart, whose interests are held privately – may be the clearest indication of the declining influence of not just the IPA but right-wing think tanks in general. 'Many people, including myself as a Liberal Party member, are frustrated with the direction of the Liberal Party. The libertarian alternative through the LDP is becoming more and more attractive.'" (1 Oct 2022)
Read more at the Saturday Paper
Events and Campaigns
Email Tasmanian politicians today so they hear the truth about the damage conversion practices have inflicted on LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians. Equality Tasmania's new email form allows you to personalise your message.
The Bill to overturn the ban on NT/ACT's ability to pass VAD laws is still being debated. Ask your state Senators to support territory rights!
Just.Equal Australia has launched a new petition calling for an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner. The Senate will debate the issue when it returns in September. View and sign here.
Humanists Australia have launched a Change.org petition calling for full separation of church and state in Australia. View and sign here.
A new petition from the RSA is aiming to build enough momentum before the federal parliament resumes to put the issue of Christian prayer rituals on the agenda of newly elected representatives heading to Canberra. Sign the petition here.
The Australian Education Union is running a campaign calling for “every school, every child” to receive fair education funding. Support the campaign here.
Funding for public schools has been cut in the latest budget but funding for school chaplains has been assured. A change.org petition is currently calling on the federal government to fund youth workers rather faith-based chaplains in our public schools.