IEU calls for end to anti-discrimination exemptions

The IEU has written to the major political parties in NSW calling for a review of the blanket exemptions to the 'Anti-Discrimination Act' allowed for non-government education authorities, which includes schools, post-secondary colleges and childcare centres.

There are specific exemptions in relation to sex discrimination, marital status and disability allowed for non-government education authorities under the Act which have been in place for 40 years.

“These exemptions reflect a bygone era and require review to reflect more contemporary understanding of workplace justice and human rights,” IEU General Secretary John Quessy said.

The IEU is seeking a commitment from the major political parties that they will support a review of the Act, in particular the exemptions, within the first year of the new parliament.

Part of the IEU’s ongoing negotiations with Catholic employers includes disagreement about the ‘Catholic ethos’ clause which the Union believes is an intrusion into the private lives of employees. The proposed review has received overwhelming support from Unions NSW. Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich has put forward the bill for removal of the exemptions, major parties are considering their positions.

The Labor Party has said it is committed to promoting anti-discrimination and equal opportunity principles and policies throughout NSW.

“We commit to ensure that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, and its application, is relevant to a modern context,” Opposition Leader Luke Foley said.

In response to the IEU’s letter, Greens Education spokesman John Kaye pledged to move for the review “early in the new parliament”.

“We do not accept that any employer should be able to discriminate on the grounds of characteristics that would not prevent an employee or potential employee from fulfilling the duties required of the position.

“Specifically, all teachers who can provide education within the values of a school should be treated equally, regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, marital status, lifestyle, religious beliefs, ethnic background, country of origin, age or disability.

“We will be supporting the independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich’s bill to remove the exemptions, should he be re-elected and proceed with the bill.”

Labor has also pledged to support Greenwich’s bill.

John Quessy
General Secretary