Weekend Wrap for 6 November 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 6 November 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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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

Hillsong founder Brian Houston will face a three-week hearing into his alleged concealment of his father’s sexual abuse of children next month but rather than turning up to court, which his lawyer did on his behalf, the pastor was addressing his followers on social media. (3 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

In an appearance on the ABC's Q+A program, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the republican issue was back on the agenda and that the government would push for it after a Voice to Parliament referendum had been settled. "I cannot believe that a country like us, in this day and age, couldn't see itself with one of our own as our head of state", he said. (3 Nov 2022)
Read more at ABC News

A US-based pro-Israel group has launched a campaign against the Albanese government’s decision to revoke recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital – and now plans to expand its operations in Australia. But the campaign has sparked accusations that the Los Angeles-based organisation was “trying to trick the Australian government into thinking that the only way to be pro-Israel was to follow the Trump playbook”. (3 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

The federal attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to review the country’s religious exemptions for schools in federal anti-discrimination law, in the first formal step towards new religious discrimination laws. The government won’t be moving forward on any proposed legislation until at least the middle of next year, with the ALRC not due to report back until April. The review will be headed by Justice Stephen Rothman AM of the NSW supreme court, a former president of the Great Synagogue. (4 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

The backlog of redress claims from child abuse survivors seeking compensation has more than doubled in two years, prompting concerns for those who “simply cannot wait”, including the ill, elderly and dying. The national redress scheme has been operating since 2018, following the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. (4 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

Around the Country

WA: The beleaguered WA Liberal Party’s state president has resigned just 13 months into the role, amid a battle to reform the party following its comprehensive drubbing in the 2021 state election. The party's problems have largely been blamed on "The Clan", a powerful faction of the party whose members included conservative Christian MPs, with one MP saying that "until the party took on The Clan, no progress could be made." (30 Oct 2022)
Read more at ABC News

VIC: The peak body of Australia’s largest Jewish community, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, has said that the organisation is not looking for a change to the state’s newly-enacted anti-discrimination laws. The JCCV’s statement came after Victorian Liberal leader Matt Guy promised to change the law so that religious schools could hire staff on the basis of their faith and allow them to discriminate against LGBTQI staff. (31 Oct 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

QLD: The Queensland education minister, Grace Grace, has announced an independent review of the accreditation framework for independent schools following backlash against the actions of large Queensland Christian schools. Those issues related to the treatment and recognition of gay and transgender students and teachers and the review will consider new measures to “protect the wellbeing of students”. (31 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

NSW: A landmark NSW inquiry investigating cold-case murders of gay men and LGBTIQ+ community members began its first hearing on Wednesday. Led by Justice John Sackar, the special commission of inquiry into hate crimes was created in April after it was recommended by a 2019 parliamentary report. (2 Nov 2022)
Read more at SBS News

VIC: The principal of a small faith-based school in south-east Melbourne has responded to concerns over a string of alleged child sexual abuse incidents involving students by telling families that the best protection for their children is to pray and perform religious rituals. (2 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

VIC: Essendon’s short-lived chief executive Andrew Thorburn has hired legal counsel and is pursuing legal action against the club after he was forced to resign. The former NAB boss quit the Bombers barely 24 hours after his appointment following criticism of his role as chair of conservative church City on a Hill which had hosted sermons likening abortion rates to the Holocaust and posted offensive views on the church’s website. (3 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

SA: South Australian upper house member Robert Simms has told the state parliament there is a growing “mood for change” across the country to replace prayer rituals with more inclusive practices in the daily proceedings of parliaments. In a speech to the Legislative Council this week, Mr Simms of the Greens, said the tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the opening of each day was “an anachronism that serves no democratic purpose”. (4 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

SA: Premier Peter Malinauskas-led Labor government on Thursday set up South Australia’s LGBTQI Advisory Council ahead of Adelaide Pride. The council to be headed by Minister for Human Services Nat Cook will directly engage with the community on its issues. (4 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

VIC: Deputy Liberal leader David Southwick has given a personal “iron-clad guarantee” that the LGBTQI community would be protected from discrimination when a future Coalition government makes changes to Victoria’s newly-enacted Equal Opportunity laws. The Member for Caulfield reiterated Liberal leader Matt Guy’s promise that the party would change the state’s anti-discrimination laws to allow faith-based schools to recruit staff who share their religious beliefs. (4 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

Commentary and Analysis

Ben Schneiders, Tom Steinfort and Natalie ClancyUtah links prompt fresh tax questions for Mormon Australian charity.
"The Mormon church’s compliance with tax laws is under renewed scrutiny after confirmation its Australian charity arm is directed from Utah. ... To qualify for [tax-deductible donations], Australian tax rules require that the church’s main local charity – which is called LDS Charities Australia – makes operational and management decisions from Australia. But previously unreleased financial reports for the Utah-based Latter Day Saint Charities confirm it is the legal entity that employs and pays staff for the church’s global charitable operation, including in Australia." (30 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

Marilyn RodriguesWhen education morphs into propaganda.
"The Catholic Weekly asked [education experts at faith-based education institutions], based on their experience, whether they thought that identity politics (around issues such as climate change, sexuality and gender, and colonialism) and cancel culture is making the task of education more difficult." (30 Oct 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

Susan Chenery and Kirstin MurrayHow Citipointe Christian College's 'sexuality contract' brought queer students out of the shadows and onto the national stage.
"Citipointe was rapidly becoming the crucible for a fiery national debate over the Coalition's proposed religious discrimination bill and and a school's right to religious freedom. A group of students who had been so marginalised and unhappy at the school were rising up, without quite meaning to." (31 Oct 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Adam WesselinoffConscientious objection conference for healthcare workers.
"Healthcare workers and students concerned about the encroachment of the law on key life issues, including so-called voluntary assisted dying (VAD) and abortion, will gather [at the annual Solidarity conference this weekend] to hear how they can practice according to their consciences." (31 Oct 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

Gareth ParkerWhere are the WA Liberals? Fighting their battles but ignoring the war.
Four months ago, ahead of a watershed state conference for the WA Liberals, I wrote here that the party warlords needed to put down their swords and raise their sights. ... Many in the non-“Clan” part of the party have been appalled at how the Clan forces, led by Upper House MP Nick Goiran, whose power base is largely (though not exclusively) in the membership of evangelical churches, have managed to accumulate a grip of key party posts and decision-making forums." (2 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

The AIM NetworkDo you want to smile or frown?
"Recently, in what could be described as an epic fail in recruiting practices, the Essendon Football Club hired and accepted the resignation of the same CEO within a day. The issue was that the CEO was also the Chairman of ‘City on the Hill’, a church that seems to promote some conservative views on the way people live their lives. Andrew Thorburn, the CEO in question, chose to resign from the role at Essendon because the football club markets itself as inclusive and accepting of all comers. City on the Hill’s conservative and restrictive views on abortion and same sex relationships are apparently a problem to a lot of Essendon supporters who have supported the club’s inclusivity policy." (2 Nov 2022)
Read more at The AIMN

Jane CaroAbortion and reproductive rights in Australia.
"Dr Leslie Cannold believes that how a society treats abortion is a litmus test for those of us with uteruses. “Is it free? Is it accessible? Is it unstigmatised? That’s a society where women are equal,” she says. Cannold is the head of programs at the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, and a long-time campaigner for abortion law reform. As we contemplate the struggles facing America since the reversal of Roe v Wade, it’s easy to assume that because abortion is now legal across Australia, the battle for reproductive rights is won." (5 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Saturday Paper

Events and Campaigns

The Census21 campaign are urging members of the public to make a submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ review of the Australian Standard for the Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG) and Religious Affiliation Standard (RAS). Read the Census21 submission here.

Catch up on the latest RSA webinar on prayers in parliament and councils.

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

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!

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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