Weekend Wrap for 28 August 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 28 August 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 wrap@nsl.org.au.

At the National Level

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Timothy Costelloe, has challenged leaders from the Catholic health and aged care services to be "Christ-centred" in their operation. Costelloe reiterated that God’s word comes first, not our own and not our culture. "The scriptures are the norm against which everything else should be evaluated," he said. Catholic Health Australia is Australia’s largest non-government provider of health and aged care services. (23 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Leader

In a major win for those who were sexually assaulted by clergy as children, as well as for their loved-ones, the Supreme Court of Victoria has ruled that the father of a deceased former choirboy who reported having been sexually assaulted by George Pell some twenty years ago can sue the Cardinal and the Church for damages. The former choirboy died more than eight years ago from a heroin overdose, which his father believes was caused by the devasting psychological effect of the sexual assaults. (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at Sydney Criminal Lawyers

Townsville Bishop Tim Harris has written to the Federal Government urging it not to repeal laws that currently prevent doctors using telehealth to discuss assisted dying. Bishop Harris says changing the law could undermine euthanasia safeguards and increase the risk for vulnerable people. Each of Australia’s six states have passed laws allowing voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill, but those living in regional and ­remote parts of the country will not have equal access unless the commonwealth amends legislation that prohibits “inciting or counselling” suicide over the phone or internet. (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Leader

Defence Minister Richard Marles has overturn the morning tea ban introduced by his predecessor Peter Dutton. Dutton introduced the ban in 2021 after he discovered defence personnel had marked International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia. “Each year we recognise events of significance and importance. Many of these events contribute to our inclusive culture by acknowledging and promoting awareness of our diverse workforce." (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Research that suggests over half of all Australians are already not religious adds weight to the need for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to redesign the Census religion question. At the most recent RSA webinar, social scientist and RSA Fellow Neil Francis argued that the new Census figure for ‘no religion’ – about 39 per cent – greatly understated the real figure, which he showed should be about 55 per cent. (26 Aug 2022)
Read more at the RSA

The Anthony Albanese government has assured that LGBTQI issues will be on the agenda at next week’s Jobs and Skills Summit. Treasurer Jim Chalmers told OutinPerth that the Albanese government recognised the “unique challenges” faced by LGBTQI people when it came to securing employment and hoped to address such issues at the summit. (26 Aug 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

Around the Country

WA: LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Just.Equal Australia have welcomed recommendations to update our state’s Equal Opportunity Act from the Law Reform Commission of WA. The organisation have also raised concerns that the proposals do not go far enough, urging lawmakers to reach for the “gold standard”. (23 Aug 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

WA: The peak body representing Christian schools has “grave concerns” schools will close if new laws dramatically reducing their ability to preference staff and students of faith go ahead. Last week, Attorney-General John Quigley announced broad support for 163 recommendations to improve the state’s anti-discrimination laws following a Law Reform Commission of WA review of the outdated Equal Opportunity Act. One of the key reforms is an “inherent requirement test” that will force religious schools to prove religious belief or activity is an essential requirement of the job. (23 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Age

SA: The suspected murder-suicide of an elderly couple at an Adelaide retirement village has thrown the spotlight back on to assisted dying laws. Despite the state voting to legalise euthanasia in June 2021, the legislation has not yet been enacted. The government had already brought forward implementation of the laws from the end of March next year to the end of January. (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News

TAS: The Tasmanian government is considering a more relaxed version of its flagship anti-protest legislation after the state's upper house substantially altered the bill to reduce its scope and penalties. Rodney Croome, president of Equality Tasmania, said the island state was a "more inclusive place for LGBTIQA+ people thanks to three decades of protest", and that the changes would "have a chilling effect on protest and the reforms that flow from it." (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News

VIC: The head of the NSW Greens has apologised to two senior figures in the party’s Victorian branch after the pair threatened a defamation suit in response to an open letter which criticised their views on transgender issues. NSW convenor Damiya Hayden this month retracted assertions made in an open letter that accused Melbourne city councillor Rohan Leppert and dumped Victorian Greens convenor Linda Gale of views that were harmful to trans people and accused Leppert of supporting conversion therapy. (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Age

Commentary and Analysis

Monica DoumitA day of reckoning on trans kids looms: "Authorities around the world have been spooked into blindly facilitating irreversible procedures for children – despite the increasing evidence of the damage done." (21 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly

Monica DoumitWhen Catholic schools miss the mark: "The promotion of Wear It Purple Day in schools is often accompanied by promotional materials that tell students those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria are more likely to suffer from mental health issues. In other words, wearing a purple ribbon shows your support for your peers. Declining to do so is a visible sign that you’re a bigot who does not care for their safety. The concern is not just about the safety and wellbeing of the students who decline to ‘wear it purple.’" (24 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly

Bilal ClelandSecret ministerial makeover smacks of rule by divine right: "We have long been rid of the dangers of the divine right of kings, with the tyranny which that involved. We will not tolerate a return to rule by divine right based on the aforementioned "seven mountains" or denizens of the Parliament House prayer room. The protection of representative government and responsible government is our duty." (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia

Events and Campaigns

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.

Victorians, Fiona Patten's Reason party is calling for you to support the idea that no publicly funded hospital should refuse the right to contraception or abortion. They are hosting a tool which makes it easy for you to email your MPs 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.

A petition currently running on change.org calls for private schools to pay back their unnecessary Jobkeeper payments. View 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.

Dying With Dignity NSW has a tool that makes it easy for people to contact their federal MPs and senators to request help in repealing the "Andrews Bill", the 1997 legislation which denies the Territories the right to pass legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The Human Rights for NSW alliance has launched a campaign calling for NSW to pass a Human Rights Act.

That's it for another week!

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