PM ScoMo fights for religious freedom despite the opposition

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter have released the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review and the government’s response. Although the Ruddock panel said that Australia does not need a religious freedom commissioner, the Prime Minister  has announced his intention to do so. The response also addresses issues like, when can a parent take their children out of studies that conflict with their religious beliefs, treatment of LGBTIQ students in religious schools, framing of a religious discrimination law etc.

The most controversial aspect of the Ruddock review is whether religious schools can discriminate against students, teachers and staff based on their sexual orientation. Most religious groups including Hindu Council, Jewish religious organizations, Islamic organizations and most Christian denominations oppose such restrictions on religious schools.

While the Prime Minister has openly come in support of religious groups, some in the opposition are not so sure and see it as an LGBTIQ rights issue.

We believe that the Prime Minster has struck the right balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination and that religious schools should not be forced to preach any thing that goes against their teachings. They should not be forced to provide their school and other resources for propagating ideas that are not compatible with their teachings.

You can read about Ruddock review here.

You can read about Hindu Council response to the review here.

You can read more details about the review and comments here.

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Religious freedom collides with anti-discrimination laws in Australia

By: Surinder Jain.

Religious freedom is fundamental to Australian identity said the Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison. And Australians voted in favor of anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT only recently. One would think that both are laudable achievements for Australia, but the future of religious freedom does not look so rosy.

A clash between Religious Freedom and Human Rights is brewing up.

Religious freedom right to propagate one’s belief permits Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other religions to run their own schools. Does this freedom means that these schools can admit gay students and have gay teachers imparting religious teachings to children when many believe admitting gay in their schools is against their faith.

This debate is heating up in Australia.

Religious freedom rights for an individual come in various parts. Right to belief is a right to believe in a certain religion and some/all the tenants that come with it. Right to practice a religion is a right to practice your religious rituals and actions coming from the belief. It also includes a right to propagate your beliefs either to your own constituency or to other non-believers.

Human rights on the other hand are also a set of rights for an individual and includes Right to Live, a Right to Freedom, a Right to Express and a number of other rights like anti-discrimination and so on.

Australia and most secular and theocratic countries permit Right to Belief. Australia also permits Right to Practice and a Right to Propagate religion without any state interference. Some theocratic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia place restrictions on Right to Practice in public and thus not allowing any temple or church unless it has been sanctioned by the government. Many countries in the middle east ban propagation of any religion other than the state sanctioned one.

Communist countries like China place restrictions on all religions. They frown upon all religious beliefs and control them by total control over appointment of clergy and allow only state permitted rituals to be practiced. Communist ideology and whims of the party are given far higher priority than either religious freedom or human rights.

A clash between the rights of one individual to protect their faith and institutions and the right of other individuals to a fair go requires a balancing act. While the Liberal party PM has vowed to protect religious freedom as integral to Australian identity, the opposition Labor party is considering an “appropriate” balance between the two.

When Right to Life clashes with Right to Practice, the human Right to live wins hands down. Thus I can not take away life or liberty of an individual even if I believe that my religious belief requires me to do so. My Right to Propagate my religion by imposing it on others will be OK in ISIS ruled countries but will be rejected in most other countries including Australia.

In a progressive country like Australia, Right to Propagate once religion has been well balanced with the Right to Practice one’s religion. Thus each religion is prohibited from imposing its belief on another religion. If I believe in a religion that does not have a personal God then I can not ask another religion to permit me to enforce my belief as part of their propagation. Thus if a religion does not believe in God, then s/he has no right to join a christian church/school and expect to teach his/her belief to the christian congregation or to students in a christian school. Religious practitioners can not invoke courts of law to enforce their Right to Propagate through the propagation machinery (churches, schools, congregations, Sunday mass, sermons, communications etc.) of other religions except in their own.

This is tampered both ways. No religion can frown upon the beliefs and practices of others as long as they are valid in law. No religion should propagate a belief that belittles the belief of another religion.

We can find the appropriate balance between right to propagation and anti-discrimination using the above well accepted principal. Thus all religions will respect the rights of LGBT and will not frown upon their practices in their religious propagation. At the same time, LGBT do not have an automatic right to use another religions propagation machinery to propagate their beliefs. Thus LGBT should not expect that they will be able to teach their belief in a religious school as much as a Hindu does not expect to have an automatic right give a Hindu sermon in a Christian church.

Number of Religious schools and number of students studying in religious schools is such a minority that it does not restrict the right of LGBT children to study or LGBT teachers to employment. These children have a very wide choice as to which school they go to study.  Teachers of LGBT persuasion are not constrained in applying for jobs to most schools and have a meaningful employment. And off course, there is nothing stopping people passionate about their gender beliefs to start their own special LGBT friendly schools.

Each new religion in Australia has to do the hard effort to establish their own schools, churches, temples and congregations. A newly arrived religion like Hinduism does not expect Christians or Jews to be forced to give up their resources like church or school for the propagation of Hinduism. Similarly, LGBT have to do their own hard yakka in establishing their own schools etc and not expect to get an easy ride on the resources of other religions in the name of anti-discrimination. And the Religions should not frown upon LGBT efforts to establish their own special LGBT friendly schools either.

By : Surinder Jain

 

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Ageing and Disability Commissioner to be established in NSW

Hindus are most affected due to ageing as existing facilities, historically, have been catering to Australians of white christian background. The establishment of a Commissioner is therefore a good news for ageing Hindus or those suffering from disability.

NSW Government announcement about the establishment from 1 July 2019 of an Ageing and Disability Commissioner.

The Commissioner will be a new, statutory authority that will strengthen Government’s ability to respond to abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability and the elderly in home and community settings. Its key functions will include:

  • Receiving, triaging and investigating allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
  • Providing support to vulnerable adults and their families/carers during and following an investigation.
  • Reporting and making recommendations to Government on systemic issues related to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older people.
  • Raising community awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults – including how to prevent, identify and respond to matters.
  • Administering the Official Community Visitors program in relation to disability services and assisted boarding houses.
The focus of the Commissioner will be preventing abuse, neglect and exploitation in home and community settings. This is distinct from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner and Aged Care Commission, which are responsible for safeguarding people receiving NDIS and aged care services.
 
The establishment of the Commissioner will be responsive to a number of reviews and inquiries which have highlighted the need for a new Public Advocate type body, to better respond to abuse, neglect and exploitation. For example, the Ombudsman’s recent Special Report on abuse of vulnerable adults, the Law Reform Commission’s Review of the Guardianship Act, the Parliamentary Inquiry into Elder Abuse and the Implementation of the NDIS in NSW inquiry. The name Ageing and Disability Commissioner has been chosen to speak more clearly to the community about its functions, and reflect its regulatory role.
 
Further information, including a Fact Sheet, is available on the Department of Family and Community Services website.
 
It would be appreciated if you could assist in promoting the establishment of the Commissioner by circulating this fact sheet within your networks.
 
Further information on the establishment of the Commissioner will be made available on the Family and Community Services website as it becomes available.Thank you for support of this important initiative.
 
Regards,
Paul O’Reilly
Executive Director, Inclusion and Early Intervention

For more information please visit
www.facs.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 9377 6000

Download Fact Sheet

FACT SHEET

Ageing-and-Disability-Fact-Sheet

 

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Australian Prime Minister – protection of our religious freedoms is synonymous with our identity

The Australian Prime Minister Hon Scott Morrison #ScoMo has a issued a press release vouching for the freedom of religion as essential to Australian identity in a diverse Australian society of today. Hindus applaud his statement and support a multicultural Australia, free of religious hatred and free of terrorism.

 

THE HON SCOTT MORRISON MP

Prime Minister

Australian PM Scott Morrison saying Namaste to Hindus at Deepavali 2018

 MEDIA STATEMENT

 Thursday 13 December 2018

RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS

There is no more fundamental liberty that any human being has than their fundamental right to decide what they believe and or not believe.

What you believe should always be a matter for you.

The protection of our religious freedoms is synonymous with our identity and it is particularly relevant because of our diverse Australian society.

Some of our largest and most established communities and some of our more recent arrivals to Australia have a higher proportion of members expressing identification with a religious belief.

94% of Indian born Australians identify as having a particular religious faith and those faiths are many including Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Muslim.

PM with some of the Hindu Council team members

If you support an open tolerant multicultural Australia then you will support and understand religious freedoms.

Religious faith is a way of life and an integral part of harmonious Australian culture that is critically important for our continued success.

Australians are substantially united that all beliefs and all Australians, including not having a belief, should always be respected by each and every citizen.

ENDS

Media Contact: Rosa Stathis, 0417 669 223

Prime Minister’s Press Office

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Pauline Hanson gives thumbs up to Indian Migration to Australia

By : Surinder Jain.

Pauline Lee Hanson is an Australian politician and a Senator representing the state of Queensland. She is also the founder and leader of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party (PHON). Despite Hanson’s repeated denials of charges of racism,[13] her views on race and immigration have been discussed widely in Australia. In her maiden speech, Hanson proposed a drastic reduction in immigration with particular reference to immigrants from Asia. Condemning multiculturalism, her One Nation party has rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies.[20] Hanson publicly backed Kevin Andrews, then Minister for Immigration under John Howard, in his views about African migrants and crime.[25]

Senator Pauline Hanson (source : Wikipedia)

Hindu Council of Australia, in association with the Hon Coleman MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Senator the Hon Zed Seselja Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance, celebraterd Deepawali festival and Annakut in the Great Hall of the Federal Parliament House in Canberra on Monday December 3, 2018. Pauline was one of the honored guests at Diwali.

Although Diwali has been celebrated at federal Parliament for over ten years now, it was the first time that Pauline Hanson joined. “This is the first time I have ever been to this event. I am not anti-migrant at all.” She said that she did not see any  problem with Indians migrating to Australia.  She expressed her happiness for having joined Diwali festivities. “It’s very special what I understand as a community. I am still learning. I don’t understand it fully but I think as a member of parliament and a national political party, it’s nice to be a part of it and I support the Indian community on this special day.”

[Read more …]

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Minister Ray Williams strongly condemns Temple Attack

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Dowry abuse submission by Hindu Council of Australia

On 26 June 2018, the Senate of Australia (Upper house of Parliament) referred the practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 6 December 2018. The committee’s focus is on the broad issues raised in the terms of reference of the inquiry with a focus on explore the nature of dowry as a cultural practice, and the adequacy of current Australian policy settings and legal frameworks regarding dowry and dowry abuse.

Hindu Council of Australia has made a submission to the Committee.

A large number of submissions have been made and all of them can be viewed at

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/DowryAbuse/Submissions

HINDU COUNCIL SUBMISSION

www w.hinducouncil.com.au | Phone: 1300 HINDUS Fax: (02) 8208 9810| ACN 082 437 670
Head office: 17 The Crescent, Homebush, NSW 2140, AUSTRALIA
Hindu Council of Australia
Submission to Senate Inquiry into Dowry Abuse in Australia

Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) is a peak body organisation founded in 1998 with an aim to
preserve, promote and share Hindu religious values and culture in Australia. Since HCA was
founded, it has been acting as a representative of the Hindu community in Australia in dealing with
the federal, state and local governments, apart from reaching out to other Hindu organisations
and institutions.

Currently Hindu Council of Australia has established chapters in all the mainland states of Australia
and forty-two Hindu associations located in all states, are member of the HCA.
HCA is pleased to provide submission to this inquiry as follows:

1. The single largest cause of spouse mistreatment is due to the Australian immigration
processes. The processes are opaque and totally controlled by the sponsoring spouse. Admittedly
all the information is available online but as can be clearly seen it is not adequate for the spouses
who get trapped between a mistreating spouse and immigration procedures.

Our first strong submission is that once a marriage is verified to be legal:

(a) the migrating spouse
gets full and complete information about the sponsoring spouse,

(b) the migrating spouse is given
an option (probably for a small fee) to have a one-on-one consultation with a representative of
the High Commission or the Embassy about their legal rights, and

(c) the rights of the migrating spouse should be the same as the sponsoring spouse.

We again reiterate that the opacity, behaviour, and the processes of the department of
immigration is the single most important factor in the mistreatment of migrating spouses.

2. Unfortunately some Australian media have displayed a propensity towards Hindu bashing. In
the past HCA had to pursue several misreporting by the SBS with the tribunal. Dowry is not a part
of core Hindu beliefs and does not find any mention in the authentic Scriptures. The practice of
dowry is further confined to only a few communities in India. All the reform movements in India,
including HCA, are against the practice of dowry and no one will be more pleased than us if this
ugly practice disappears.

Our second strong submission is that please don’t make this Senate Enquiry a Hindu bashing
exercise. We say this because the setting of the enquiry draws heavily from ABC and SBS reporting
and please let that not colour the proceedings of the enquiry.

3. The role of the Hindu clergy is limited to performing rituals. If the clergy has any influence it is
due to their personal relationship with the community and not as clergy. A Hindu priest in general
has no role in family matters and especially in these complex matters that involve immigration
processes and family history.
 
Our third submission is that the Hindu Clergy be considered for what it is: responsible for rituals
and worship and not for any role within the family.

4. The frequent reference to Manu Smriti is baffling for us. Independent India made its own laws
with scant regard to Manu Smriti. Most of us hear about Manu Smriti the first time from the news
reports that have an anti-Hindu agenda. We say this because all the journalists know well that the
parts of Manu Smriti they quote are obsolete and find no connection with the present Hindu
society.

Our fourth submission is that the Hindu community in Australia is fully committed to the lawmaking
process in Australia and we will assist in whatsoever manner to make laws that prevent
spouse abuse. Please don’t get distracted by the journalists and “social” scientist with anti-Hindu
agenda. Hindus are fully committed to the laws of the land, no exceptions. We are confident of
pursuing our religion and culture and thriving in every society that makes its laws in a democratic
manner.

5. Male domination in any society is due to the poor education of women. In the Indian state of
Kerala, with almost hundred per cent education, there is a complete gender equality in the society.
In the regions with poor women education, the situation is the opposite. Indian women are taking
up education at a record rate, more than fifty per cent of students in professional courses in India
are now women.

Our fifth and final submission is that let the male domination theme be not used to run down our
culture and religion. We are working extremely hard to overcome our historical deficiencies. Hindu
bashing will be detrimental to this effort. The best way to correct gender power imbalance is to
encourage educated women to help other women and yet preserve the wonderful family structure
that the Indian society has created.

We look forward to cooperating with the Australian Parliament in making laws and establishing
processes which prevent the abuse of one human by another.

Thanks for giving us this opportunity to make our submission. We will be happy to make an inperson
presentation to the committee.

Kind Regards
Prakash Mehta
National President
Hindu Council of Australia, Email:
Mobile number: 17 August,
2018
Page 2 of 2
The practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia
Submission 57

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Religious Leaders Forum of NSW discusses violence against children

By: Vijai Singhal.

Religious Leaders Forum

I attended the Religious Leaders Forum on behalf of the Hindu Council of Australia on 22nd August, 2018 at the Melkite Catholic Church Schoolin Greenacre, organized by the Multicultural NSW. Before the start of the proceedings the members were given the tour of the school which is providing education to 240 students mainly from the Arabic speaking refugee families.

The main speaker for the Forum was Mr. Andrew Johnson, Advocate for Children and Young people. The topic for his presentation was “Violence against children is everybody’s business” promoting prevention of violence against children, which has deep psychological impact on the vulnerable children in the society. Support services are available for both adults and children and young people who may be suffering violence.

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Hindus in Victoria advise Premier on Multicultural issues

By: Makrand Bhagwat.

Hindu Council of Australia Victoria is a member of the Multifaith Advisory Group under the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) , which advises the Premier and the minister for multicutural affairs on faith related matters in the community.
Some of the issues MAG discussed in the recent times were the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, LGBTI inclusion in the broader community, Family Violence, Issues related to Islamic community and achieving social cohesion to name a few.
MAG Chair is Helen Kapalos, who is also the Chair for Victorian Multicultural Commission. Helen organised a meeting with the Premier and the Minister way back in Apr-May this year and scheduled it for 15th August, which was yesterday.
HCA was represented in this meeting. Although the meeting was short, some of the recent issues were discussed. The meeting started on the backdrop of the recent comments made in the Senate by Katter’s party Senator Fraser Annings about bringing back the white Australia policy and opposing to Islamic migration. The MAG unanimously condoned Senator’s comments.
The other issue which was discussed was about the South Sudanese youth violence in the recent past in Melbourne suburbs. Bishop Philip Huggins from the Anglican Church said that he is working with the Sudanese community on this issue. All the faith communities expressed their support and asked if they could help. The Premier also commented that steps are being taken to provide training and job opportunities to the South Sudanese youth to bring them into the mainstream.
The Premier announced financial assistance of $600,000 to MAG which was welcomed by all faith leaders.
HCA will work closely with the MAG in future to positively contribute on all emerging issues.
After the meeting I personally thanked the Premier on attending the Indian national flag hoisting ceremony over the week end at the Federation Square.
Thank you and regards
Makarand Bhagwat

 

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