News

Religion, Schools and Discrimination Cover to Cover

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
2 Dec 2015

Dr Greg Walsh
Senior Lecturer at the School of Law for the University of Notre Dames Australia's Broadway Campus

A book by Senior Lecturer at the School of Law for the University of Notre Dames Australia's Broadway Campus, Dr Greg Walsh, will be launched on Wednesday, 9 December by Dean of Law, Professor Michael Quinlan.

The book, titled Religious Schools and Discrimination Law assesses the merits of different approaches to regulating the ability of religious schools to make employment decisions based on an employee's compatibility with the school's religion.

The particular focus of the book is on the merits of the general exception adopted under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) that allows religious schools to make employment decisions on grounds that would otherwise be prohibited under the Act.

By considering their performance against ten distinct criteria, the book considers the merits of the general exception approach in relation to two alternative approaches: the inherent requirement test and the opt-in model.

Dr Walsh explains that the inherent requirement test allows religious schools to make employment decisions on the basis of a person's compatibility with the school's religion for employment positions where a religious component is an inherent requirement, whereas the opt-in model involves a registration process that allows religious schools to adapt the protections provided under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) to the needs of each religious school.

Dr Walsh said that the regulation of religious schools is an issue of great importance considering the central role religious schools play in the lives of individuals and communities.  This role, he says, can be used to serve the common good but also has the capacity to harm individuals and the community by promotion a range of controversial beliefs.

Dean of Law Michael Quinlan

Dr Walsh says: "My hope in writing a book on how religious schools should be regulated under anti-discrimination legislation is that it will assist individuals interested in the issue develop a better understanding of the importance of the topic and the limitations in both the current approach adopted in New South Wales and also some of the main alternative models that have been proposed for regulating religious schools.

"Considering the repeated attempts by some parliamentarians in New South Wales to repeal the current regulatory model used in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) there will likely be a need in the near future for parliamentarians and others interested in the issue to carefully consider the best model to adopt in regulating religious schools."

Dr Walsh completed a combined Bachelor of Laws/Science degree and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Australian National University, a Master of Laws degree at the University of Sydney and a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Curtin University.   The book is part of his doctoral dissertation.

Those interested in attending the launch should RSVP by Monday, 7 December 2015 to (02) 8204 4300 or palak.pandya@nd.edu.au