Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 25 September 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
Scientology leader David Miscavige has avoided being served with a summons on at least 14 occasions, a US court has been told, as part of a human-trafficking case brought by three Australian residents. The allegations emerged in a Florida civil case brought by Australian Gawain Baxter and residents Laura Baxter and Valeska Paris who have claimed they endured horrendous emotional, physical and psychological abuse while in Scientology. (18 Sep 2022)
Read more at The Age
A taxpayer-funded committee of religious clerics has raised "concerns" with the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) about a media interview given by former head chaplain Collin Acton, who is calling for reform of military chaplaincy services, show documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI). As Director-General of the Navy’s chaplaincy branch in 2020, Acton was instrumental in having secular wellbeing office roles introduced into the Navy shortly before he retired from the role. The Army and Air Force are yet to follow suit. (22 Sep 2022)
Read more at the RSA
Successive governments have failed to produce a response to a damning review of the child abuse redress scheme published 18 months ago, missing a self-imposed deadline by at least five months despite the review’s pleas for urgency. The national redress scheme, established in the wake of the 2017 child abuse royal commission, has been operating for four years, offering capped amounts of compensation to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. (23 Sep 2022)
Read more at The Guardian
Religious superannuation funds will have their faith-based investment strategy taken into account by the end of this year when undergoing the annual performance test. After representations from Christian Super and Islamic super fund Crescent Wealth, the Albanese Government intends to set a supplementary test for faith-based funds penalised under the My Super, My Future standards. Faith-based funds that do not invest in asset classes such as gambling and alcohol may perform worse under the current annual performance test. (24 Sep 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly
Around the Country
QLD: Church land in Queensland could be used to help tackle the state’s housing crisis, according to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Ms Palaszczuk said the Church had identified blocks of land across the state and would work with government “with the view to putting some accommodation on those blocks of land”. “We are embedded in communities through our parishes, our schools and our services which give us reach into areas of need and an opportunity to respond in practical ways,” said Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge. (16 Sep 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Leader
VIC: Victorian independent candidate Sophie Torney has condemned a self-described "anti-abortion activist" after alleging he poured kerosene into her campaign office to "intimidate" her. "This is a condemnable act of political intimidation, an attempt to frighten and silence people who support a woman's right to make their own reproductive choices," she said. (18 Sep 2022)
Read more at SBS News
WA: The head of chaplaincy provider YouthCARE, which receives millions of taxpayers’ dollars to recruit chaplains to work in public schools, says it hires Christians because they are “people who align with our values”. The Bayswater council is considering whether it will pull its funding from YouthCARE and redirect it to public schools in its local government area to hire pastoral care workers directly. Western Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner John Byrne has raised concerns about the practice of restricting chaplaincy positions to Christians, saying it constituted “prima facie religious conviction discrimination”. (20 Sep 2022)
Read more at the RSA
NSW: Comprehensive information and ideas for teachers and students on how to start up a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) in a secondary school are now available online at gsaconnect.org.au. GSAs are student-led social support groups focused on making secondary schools safer and more inclusive for LGBTIQA+ students, their families and allies. (20 Sep 2022)
Read more at NSW Teachers Federation
VIC: A Victorian Liberal Party politician who was ousted at pre-selection by a candidate linked to a Pentecostal church has lashed out at extremism in politics in her final speech as a parliamentarian. "These cults try to splinter our society while, ironically, speaking of oneness and unity," she said. "Their extreme positions always serve a divide and conquer approach. Ordinary Victorians need to awaken to the threat from these groups." (21 Sep 2022)
Read more at ABC News
WA: Local LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Rainbow Futures WA have welcomed the news that the McGowan Government will be overhauling the state’s Equal Opportunity Act, but say more can be done to bring us in line with the east coast on LGBTQIA+ protections. Rainbow Futures WA are calling for further protections by petition, which outlines concerns that the rights of LGBTIQA+ Western Australians have fallen behind the rights of LGBTIQA+ people in other Australian states. (23 Sep 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth
Commentary and Analysis
Paul Collins – One established church is enough: "Just now we all need a rest from royalty. But what’s gone unnoticed in media is how intimately connected the monarchy is to the Church of England. One of the neglected titles in these days of royal over-kill is that her late-majesty was and his newly-minted-majesty is, ‘by the grace of God, Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.’ In fact, unlike Australia, there is no separation in the UK between the head of state and the Established Church." (15 Sep 2022)
Read more at Pearls and Irritations
James Fitzgerald – Monarchy holding Australia back from its true potential: "Britain's Monarchy is holding Australia back from reaching its full potential as a progressive nation. Britain is stuck in the past and looks set to slide further down the table of countries in regards to influence, relevance and quality of life — and the Monarchy, with all its old-world charm and archaic rules and pomp, is part of that." (20 Sep 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia
Michael Sun – The young Australian who changed trans rights for children: ‘Everything I do, I do for the kids’: "Georgie Stone has made headlines ever since she was 10, first in the courts and then becoming Neighbours’ first trans actor. She talks about her life ahead of a new Netflix documentary." (22 Sep 2022)
Read more at The Guardian
Lucy Hamilton – Morrison joins hard right IDU’s embrace of Viktor Orban: "Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joined the advisory board of the International Democrat Union. It is an organisation that is much more radical than its self-declared defence of the “centre right” spin suggests. The alliance that marked the transition to the hard right is the IDU’s embrace of Viktor Orban, the Hungarian leader now standing for “illiberal democracy” around the west. [Tony] Abbott too is on the IDU’s honorary advisory board alongside John Howard and Morrison. Abbott is not the only Australian to join in with Orban’s fear mongering about immigration and “family values” (code for intolerance of anything not strictly enforcing marriage between man and woman). There is a posse, including Alexander Downer and Kevin Andrews, that joins the talking circuit spreading Orbanist intolerance." (23 Sep 2022)
Read more at Pearls and Irritations
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.