THE Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission has revised a controversial set of draft guidelines affecting Church organisations and agencies involved in the Job Network scheme.
The draft guidelines drew criticism from Federal Employment Services Minister Tony Abbott in early September after they were released for public discussion and comment.
Mr Abbott, in a letter to president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, Professor Alice Tay, said the draft guidelines were not fair to religious organisations because it should not be a condition of entering the Job Network that these organisations be required to treat the religious commitment of staff members as a “mere optional extra”.
“Placing restrictions on the freedom of religious organisations to manage themselves is contrary to long-established Australian practice, could jeopardise the ability of these organisations to deliver employment services and looks like upholding freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion,” wrote Mr Abbott.
A spokesperson for Prof Tay said there were some misunderstandings relating to the original draft guidelines released last month.
Executive officer of Centacare Australia, Toby O’Connor, said he could not comment on the revised guidelines because Centacare was liasing with other peak bodies within the Church.