POLITICS

Victoria To Boost Discrimination Protection For Job Seekers

The proposed changes will mean fairer hiring, Labor says.

30/08/2016 2:22 PM AEST | Updated 30/08/2016 4:42 PM AEST
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The Victorian government will bolster laws against discrimination in hiring.

The Andrews government is ramping up discrimination protections for workers applying for jobs at schools and religious organisations.

The Victorian government said on Tuesday that it would reinstate protections to limit the ability of a religious body or school to discriminate on hiring because of a person's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or differing religious beliefs.

At the moment, schools and religious bodies in the state can rely on a religious defence when it comes to staffing, but that rule would be scrapped under the new Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016, to be introduced in parliament today.

"The (religious) defence will be limited to circumstances where religious beliefs are an inherent requirement of a job, and an employee or job applicant does not meet the requirement because of a specific personal attribute," the government said in a statement.

"The test will not force religious bodies or schools to employ people with attributes that conflict with its religious beliefs and principles. However, it will require them to demonstrate a necessary connection between their religious beliefs and the requirements of a specific role."

The bill follows school-related controversy earlier this year, with reports that religious organisations were infiltrating cash-strapped state schools to teach a range of programs.

The new legislation delivers on Labor's commitment to amend the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, which was altered by the previous conservative government.

Christian Schools Australia, the peak group for a large network of independent Christian schools, has been sought for comment.

Attorney General Martin Pakula said the move showed the government respected "people's right to religious expression but not at the cost of equality".

"This test will ensure a fairer balance between the right to equality and the right to freedom of religion," he said.

It comes on the same day that Victoria indicated it would ban fracking in the state.

The Victorian Government is reportedly introducing legislation to permanently ban all exploration and development of unconventional gas, including fracking, in the state.

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