Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2013 Contents Quality
Baptcare -- Northaven Community in Victoria,
knows about quality -- they won a Better Practice
Award in 2012 for their community integration
program, Keeping the community spirit alive.
those services," he said.
The government also noted
that in some locations, particularly
in rural towns where the bulk of
providers are faith-based, the
choice of provider is limited.
Significantly, the proposed
amendment represents the
first and the only case in which
religious exemptions under the
sex discrimination legislation
have been wound back.
One Coalition Senator who
broke ranks with her party
colleagues and backed the
amendment was QLD Senator,
She said that while many
religious-based aged care
providers had a policy of non-
discrimination, it did not mean that
legislative reform was unnecessary.
"I do not think that the religious
organisations can have it both
ways. They cannot say, 'We don't
discriminate' or 'We respect the
individual' and at the same time say,
'But we don't want any legislation
that affects the way we treat
people,'" she told the upper house.
"Why should we allow aged
care institutions that are funded by
the federal government to decide
who the residents of those aged-
care facilities will be, based on the
sexual orientation or the sexual
status of the people involved?"
Ms Boyce also noted the absence
of many written submissions from
major religious-based aged care
providers to the Senate Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Legislation
Committee explicitly stating whether
they supported or opposed the
removal of the exemption.
Of the 90 public submissions
made, Mission Australia was
the only aged care provider to
make a public record statement
in relation to this bill supporting
the removal of the exemption.
However, many aged care
providers did make a submission
to the abandoned Human Rights
and Anti Discrimination Bill 2012,
which canvassed this issue. In
that consultation some providers,
including Catholic Health Australia,
HammondCare and the Salvation
Army, expressed concern over
removing the religious exemption.
The Salvation Army said the
removal of the religious exemption
might restrict the teaching and
mission of the organisation in
the provision of its services.
Like the Salvation Army,
Catholic Health Australia CEO,
Martin Laverty, said that while
the organisation does not
discriminate against anyone, it
also does not support removing
the exemption. Mr Laverty said
that to remove the exemption
would risk breaching the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights on
religious freedom and expression.
He said Catholic hospitals and
aged care services "should not
be compelled to provide specific
services that are inconsistent with
Catholic religious beliefs."
Senator Boyce was critical of an
apparent inconsistency in religious-
based service provider policies
and positions. "It seems to me that
many of the religious organisations
choose to put on a non-religious
face when it suits them in service
provision and the like, but then,
again when it suits them, to pull out
their religious values and religious
exemptions in that area," she said
in her speech to the Senate.
While there is no record of
how many faith-based providers
hold discriminatory policies
and practices, or the extent of
discrimination in aged care, LGBTI
advocates working with the sector
report that the large majority do
not wish to discriminate.
UnitingCare Australia and
UnitingCare Ageing NSW/ACT, for
example, have strongly supported
the position that religious groups
should not be exempt from the
delivery of non-discriminatory
services in the community.
Director for UnitingCare Ageing,
Steve Teulan said it was imperative
that aged care providers allocate
their services based solely on
need. "[I]t is our firm conviction
that members of the LGBTI
communities have an equal right
to aged care services. Many of
them have suffered discrimination
and in some cases even fear of
prosecution throughout their lives.
"Our experience is that
because of this marginalisation
we find they can often be wary of
aged care providers."
In evidence to the senate
committees on this issue, Southern
Cross University academic,
Associate Professor Mark Hughes,
discussed examples of direct
discrimination of LGBTI people in
aged care, homophobic attitudes
from aged care staff and the
effects of a fear of discrimination
on their willingness to access care.
In an address to the inaugural
LGBTI Aged Care Conference,
Age Discrimination Commissioner,
Susan Ryan, called on aged
care providers to take the lead in
publicly stating their commitment
to LGBTI inclusive care and
"It is time for those church-
based providers who say, 'we don't
discriminate in the provision of care
or in employment of staff' to make
that clear in public statements,"
she told the Sydney audience.
"The provision of a strong
public position would go a long
way to reassuring those who
are understandably feeling very
anxious," she said.
The Senate Standing
Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs' final report
tabled on June 14 recommended
that the government's limitation
on religious exemption from anti-
discrimination law in aged care
be supported. n
NB: At the time of going to
press, the Sex Discrimination
Amendment (Sexual Orientation,
Gender Identity and Intersex
Status) Bill 2013 had passed the
Senate and returned to the
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 13
Links Archive AAA May-Jun 2013 AAA Spt-Oct 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page