Catholic Schools NSW (CSNSW) said it stands ready to engage in consultations on changes to anti-discrimination provisions for same-sex attracted teachers and other staff in religious schools.
“Catholic education immediately supported removing the right of religious schools to expel students because of their sexuality,” CSNSW Chief Executive Officer Dallas McInerney said.
“The issues as they relate to staff are more complex and require careful consideration of all legal and employment-related matters.
“We are willing to participate in a discussion on the future of anti-discrimination laws as they relate to employees of faith-based bodies in the context of a full and proper response to the Ruddock Review.
“Any changes to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 affecting religious employers will have consequences for staff conditions as expressed in Codes of Conduct, Enterprise Bargaining Agreements and other employment instruments,” he said.
“This is not something that can be rushed. It requires wide consultation, including with our staff.”
Mr McInerney said laws protecting religious freedom in Australia exist to allow faith-based bodies to operate in accordance with their beliefs, particularly with regard to whom they deploy.
“They merely enable religious schools to uphold the values of the communities they serve if, in extremely rare circumstances, an employee deliberately and wilfully behaves contrary to the values of the school,” he said.
“Parents choose Catholic schools for their children because they expect this education will be provided by teachers in a manner consistent with the doctrines, beliefs and practice of the Catholic Church.
“The freedom of Catholic schools to employ staff who embrace Christianity is essential for providing effective religious education and faith formation to their students.
“Staff in Catholic Schools have a professional obligation to be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church, to act as role models and to do nothing publicly that would undermine the transmission of those teachings.”
Catholic Schools NSW represents the state’s 595 Catholic schools and their 255,000 students.