The Australian Human Rights Commission will develop resources to help employers and employees navigate issues on protecting freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the workplace.
The Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow will lead this work, preparing guidance on how this right is currently protected under federal anti-discrimination law as well as some practical advice on how to handle these issues respectfully in Australian workplaces.
Commissioner Santow said the Commission has supported improving the protection for freedom of thought, conscience and religion for the past 20 years, but emphasised the need to balance freedom of religion with an individual’s right to be protected from experiencing discrimination on other grounds.
“The law is an important protection. However, we also want to provide practical guidance on how to navigate some of the difficult issues that arise,” Commissioner Santow said.
“One person’s freedom can have an impact on other people. Being mindful of that, being as respectful as possible, should guide how we interact in workplaces and elsewhere.”
“That is why the Commission will provide resources on how our law protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion in Australian workplaces.”
The Commission will finalise this guidance within the next three months.
It will be based on the Commission’s complaint-handling experience and community consultations conducted over the past 20 years, and also will note reforms the Commission has advocated to strengthen the current protection for freedom of thought, conscience and religion.