Weekend Wrap for 4 December 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 4 December 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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At the National Level

Peter James, Group Chief Executive Officer of Scripture Union Australia, has claimed in a radio interview that the Albanese government has committed funding to the National School Chaplaincy Program for another five years. No official announcement has been made as of yet. (29 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

Allowing terminally ill people to travel interstate to be with family as they go through an assisted death will be the next step once every state and territory has voluntary assisted dying laws. Australia is now closer to having nationwide voluntary assisted dying laws after the Territory Rights bill passed the Senate on Thursday evening, ending a 25-year fight to let the territories decide their own laws around the issue. (2 Dec 2022)
Read more at The Age

Testimony given at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has confirmed that the majority of pastoral care offered and available to troubled recruits is religious in nature, the usefulness of which is questionable (ADF census data shows that a majority of personnel are non-religious). (2 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

One Nation has pushed for a parliamentary inquiry into the treatment methodologies, such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, used in gender clinics. Senator Pauline Hanson claimed there was conclusive evidence that both treatments lead to a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes and an inquiry was needed to investigate why there had been an increase in the people seeking treatment. (3 Dec 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Around the Country

VIC: All four of the candidates who have so far put up their hand to be the next Liberal Party leader say they would reverse Matthew Guy’s party room ban on Renee Heath, an ultra-conservative church member and newly elected upper house MP. The contest to be the next leader of the opposition widened on Monday with four men – John Pesutto, Brad Battin, Ryan Smith and Richard Riordan – all confirming to The Age that they would nominate for the top job when a ballot is held next month. They all said that Heath, who is a lifelong member of the ultra-conservative City Builders’ church, would be allowed into the party room. (28 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

QLD: About 400 terminally ill adults are expected to use Queensland's voluntary assisted dying laws to legally end their lives during the first 12 months of the new laws coming into effect. The modelling by Queensland Health, based on rates in Western Australia and Victoria, projects there could potentially be 380 to 430 deaths through the scheme in 2023. Queensland's voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws come into effect on January 1 — almost 15 months after the legislation passed state parliament. (29 Nov 2022)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: The City of Parramatta has smoothed the path for the Anglican church to build a 45-storey tower next to St John’s Cathedral in the heart of the CBD, in the face of strident opposition from critics who fear the development will overwhelm the historic site and restrict activities at odds with church doctrine on surrounding land. (29 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

TAS: Clarence City Council in Tasmania has joined a growing number of city councils removing prayer from their meetings, based on the view that "the prayer ritual was no longer appropriate." (30 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Rational Society of Australia

ACT/NT: The federal parliament has lifted a 25-year-old ban that prevented the territories from making voluntary assisted dying laws. Every state in Australia has already legalised voluntary euthanasia. However, in 1997, the Commonwealth imposed a veto on the Northern Territory and the ACT, specifically barring them from doing so. Thursday's Senate vote ends that ban, paving the way for the two territories to debate and pass their own laws. (1 Dec 2022)
Read more at ABC News

WA: A report into the activities at Perth’s religious based facility Esther House has highlighted Western Australia’s lack of legislation specifically outlawing conversion practices and suppression practices that aim to change a person’s sexuality or gender. Following the tabling of the report Premier Mark McGowan announced that his government would move to introduce the long called for legislation. (1 Dec 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

QLD: "Terminally ill Queensland residents in remote areas will require in-person visits from health workers to access the state’s new assisted dying scheme when it launches next month. Efforts to overturn or bypass Commonwealth laws banning doctors from aiding suicide over the phone or internet have still not delivered a result, despite a promised review by federal Labor." (2 Dec 2022)
Read more at The Age

QLD: Queensland’s Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman on Friday introduced a Bill to the state Parliament to allow trans and gender-diverse persons to change the gender marker on their birth certificates without undergoing surgery. LGBTQI advocates have welcomed the law reform, which they say will improve the lives of trans and gender-diverse Queenslanders. (2 Dec 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

NSW: The NSW government is facing another pre-selection debacle after the far-right lawyer expected to replace the Transport Minister was dumped in a shock move by the Liberal Party. On Friday the "unashamedly pro life" Noel McCoy was excluded from running for preselection in the safe seat of Castle Hill by the party's nomination review committee. (3 Dec 2022)
Read more at ABC News

VIC: First-time Victorian Liberal MP Sam Groth has called on his party to embrace mainstream voters and shun the far-right after its third straight election loss as top Liberals grapple with the fallout threatening the future of the party. Groth, one of two Liberals to win a seat off Labor, urged the party to become a “modern and moderate Liberal Party” and “not give ground to these hard-right ideologies”. (3 Dec 2022)
Read more at The Age

Commentary and Analysis

Sarah Spina-MatthewsWith anti-discrimination changes, the Northern Territory has some of the world's most progressive sex work laws. It wasn't always that way.
"On Tuesday night, laws passed in Northern Territory parliament made it the first jurisdiction in the world to explicitly protect sex work and sex workers under anti-discrimination laws. ... Three years ago, the Northern Territory became only the second Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise sex work, with Victoria passing their own legislation this year. But [Leanne] Melling, who has worked in sex worker advocacy across the world for decades, knows better than most how much has changed." (27 Nov 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Lucy HamiltonThe right is now lies and bigotry: what next for conservatives?
"Victoria’s Liberal Party has presented itself as moderate to suit the electorate but is crippled by the branches gradually being overwhelmed by religious conservatives. Thus its policy platform includes support for conversion therapy, and its leader refuses to condemn candidates with a deeply reactionary mission. It has even preferenced known antisemite far-right candidates in its ethics-free desperation." (30 Nov 2022)
Read more at Pearls & Irritations

Kat WongLobby’s law reform claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
"A Facebook post [from the Australian Christian Lobby] claims it would be illegal for parents to urge caution to children who are questioning their gender or sexual orientation if the state government implements the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s (TLRI) recommendations on banning conversion therapy. This claim is false. TLRI’s report says communicating views about sexuality and gender is not a conversion practice and specifically puts in place protections for parents to provide care and guidance. It also states parents should be able to educate their children 'in accordance with their religious and moral convictions'." (1 Dec 2022)
Read more at AAP FactCheck

Alicia PereraNow that the Territory rights bill has passed, will voluntary assisted dying once again be legalised in the NT?
"Almost 30 years ago, the Northern Territory made history when it became the first place in Australia — and the world — to legalise voluntary assisted dying. The move was so radical for its time that it sparked global controversy. Less than a year later, the groundbreaking legislation was overruled by the then federal government, with a new law that blocked both of Australia's territories from making laws on the issue. Since then, every Australian state has gone on to legalise voluntary assisted dying, while the NT and Australian Capital Territory have remained barred from doing the same due to their territory status. Now, after years of fighting for the right to legislate on the issue, on Thursday the Restoring Territory Rights Bill passed federal parliament — removing the decades-long ban." (2 Dec 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Julia BanksLiberals pay a high price for their unholy merger with the hard right.
Soon after, in early 2018, it seemed that the floodgates had been opened as new Liberal members started entering my electorate and social media research revealed that many of them were self-declared Pentecostalists, Mormons, or from minor right-wing parties such as Family First. This resurgence in membership coincided with rumours swirling that members of the religious right were mobilising to challenge me and other moderates at the upcoming preselections ahead of the 2019 federal election. The state MP I had met who was anti-marriage equality, his Liberal member supporters and his mates – including some of his neighbouring Victorian federal MPs – were big fans of Morrison, Dutton and their ilk. All were proudly right wing. Most were climate deniers, ultra-religious and anti-same sex marriage, anti-abortion, and deeply prejudiced about women who worked outside the home." (2 Dec 2022)
Read more at The New Daily

Annika BlauIn good faith.
"...on the surface, an ordinary public hospital in a big city. But like 20 other public hospitals around the country, it runs by a Catholic code of ethics. This code, which applies to both public and private hospitals, advises against contraception, pregnancy termination, IVF, voluntary-assisted dying, and even the provision of abortion medication to rape victims." Hospital workers confirm that workarounds are widespread, and that “there’s so much fudging of documentation that it’s really difficult to accurately see what’s going on in the health system. It means that data is meaningless.” Annika Blau follows the stories of women whose healthcare has been affected by the ability of religious hospitals to put blanket bans on particular procedures and treatments. (3 Dec 2022)
Read more at ABC News / Background Briefing

Events and Campaigns

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee is running an inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare. Public submissions can be made until 15 December 2022.
Read more at the Australian Parliament House website

Per a media release from the WA government, the McGowan Government has opened a four-week consultation period to provide input on the modernisation of Western Australia's abortion laws. Public consultation has opened and will allow women and other stakeholders to have their say on key issues via an online survey or emailed submissions. Submissions close 17 December 2022.
Read more at the WA Government Media Statements website

Have you faced discrimination at a religious school or organisation? Equality Australia wants to know!

Humanists Australia have launched a Change.org petition calling for full separation of church and state in Australia. View and sign 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.

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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