The Australian union movement has a significant interest in the effectiveness of Australia’s anti-discrimination and human rights framework. Since the commencement of anti-discrimination laws, the majority of complaints have related to employment. This is because work is absolutely central to human dignity and our ability to live a decent life. The significant power imbalance between employers and workers means that workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination and other human rights abuses.

The ACTU welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission on the Inquiry into Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws (ALRC Inquiry). This Inquiry is the first step in delivering on important promises made by the Australian Labor Party prior to the May 2022 Federal Election, which saw it elected to Government. The ACTU fully supports the delivery of the commitments to ensure that religious educational institutions must not discriminate against students and staff on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy. This is a long overdue reform that is necessary to protect the safety, dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms of students and staff at religious educational institutions.