Media Release - Parental Rights Bill: Unworkable and unsafe
7 September 2021
The release of the NSW Parliament Committee Report on the Parental Rights Bill is a disappointment. The worst aspects of the Bill’s attack on teacher professionalism have not been addressed, and the IEU calls on all NSW politicians to reject the proposed legislation in its entirety.
Steered by One Nation’s Mark Latham, the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 aims to ensure parents are responsible for teaching children about core values, such as ethical and moral standards, political and social values, personal wellbeing, gender and sexuality.
The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch, which represents more than 32,000 teachers and support staff in non-government schools, believes the Bill would be unworkable in practice and unsafe for vulnerable students in schools.
The Bill requires schools to provide parents with detailed summaries of course content. This would not only add to teachers’ already heavy workloads, but also allow parents to withdraw their children from classes covering anything they may not agree with, for example, climate change and the environment, reconciliation, evolution or discrimination.
Not only that, teachers would automatically lose their jobs should they breach any of the Bill’s complex provisions. “Threatening to revoke teachers’ accreditation, and therefore their means to a livelihood, simply for discussing and affirming the vulnerable students in their care is fundamentally wrong,” said Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary Carol Matthews. “No teacher should lose their job for supporting a student.”
In his evidence to the inquiry, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam said the Bill was “an onerous and burdensome addition to what schools are already doing”.
IEU members have also expressed strong opposition to the Bill. “The Bill indicates little knowledge or understanding of how schools function on a day-to-day basis, shows no regard for the professional judgement of teachers, and has the potential to cause significant harm to individual students and teachers,” the North West Sub Branch of the union said in a resolution.
School counsellor members have also expressed their deep concern that the legislation would
“place unreasonable limitations on their ability to discuss sensitive matters with students who are in need of pastoral care relating to issues of sexuality and gender”. As a result, these students could be further marginalised rather than shown care.
This legislation has no place in a progressive society. Every NSW politician should vote against it.
Carol Matthews, Acting Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch, 0418 272 902
Patrick Devery, IEU Professional Engagement Officer, 0439 136 236
Media and communications: Monica Crouch, 0411 645 751 firstname.lastname@example.org
The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents over 32,000 teachers, principals and support staff in Catholic and independent schools, early childhood centres and post-secondary colleges.
Authorised by Carol Matthews, Acting Branch Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT