A Voice for Christian Education


AACS represents the interests of member schools on a range of issues that impact on the delivery of authentic Christian education in Australia. At the core of our work is conveying our views and lobbying for change in relation to legislation, educational policies, budget initiatives and the administration of government programmes. Our work involves visits to politicians and bureaucrats, submissions to parliamentary inquiries, appearances before parliamentary committee hearings as well as negotiations with peak bodies.

Provided below are a summary of recent inquiries and submissions made by AACS on behalf of member schools.

Anti Discrimination Act Review (QLD) 2024

AACS along with CSA are calling for a more extensive consultation and inquiry process to ensure that all the legitimate concerns are properly addressed.

Read the Joint Submission HERE.

Review of Section 83C of the Education Act 1990 (NSW)

In 2023 AACS were invited to provide direct feedback on behalf of our member schools and have now provided a joint submission with CSA in relation to the Review of Section83C of the Education Act 1990 (NSW).

Read the joint submission HERE

Tasmanian Government's Justice Miscellaneous (Conversion Practices) Bill 2024

AACS and CSA have submitted a response to the Tasmanian Government's draft legislation seeking to ban 'conversion practices' in relation to same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. 

Read the joint submission HERE

Productivity Commission Public Inquiry

Executive Officer of AACS, Vanessa Cheng along with Alistair Macpherson from Association Christian Schools and Mark Spencer from Christian Schools Australia spoke at a Productivity Commission Public Inquiry hearing in Sydney on their submission to the draft report “Future Foundations for Giving”. If enacted by the Government, the consequent change would see the removal of School Building Funds and scholarship funds which could have a significantly detrimental impact on our sector.

AACS urged the Commission to reconsider this recommendation and support the ongoing use of School Building Funds by schools for tax deductible giving. 

Read the joint submission HERE

Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (Costs Protection) Bill 2023

AACS is concerned the new cost protection provision of 'equal access' in  its Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (Costs Protection) Bill 2023 could significantly expose Christian schools, and other faith-based organisations, to litigation from complainants because it would become virtually cost and risk free for an individual, or an activist body on their behalf, to commence a discrimination action against Christian schools. 

Read our joint preliminary submission from Adventist Schools Australia, Australian Association of Christian Schools and Christian Schools Australia HERE.

NSW Law Reform Commission - Review and Report on the Anti Discrimination Act 1977

The NSW Law Reform Commission is conducting a review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). The Terms of Reference are particularly broad and include the concerning goal of “whether the Act could be modernised and simplified to better promote the equal enjoyment of rights and reflect contemporary community standards” along with a focus on “exceptions, special measures and exemption processes”.

Read our joint preliminary submission from Adventist Schools Australia, Australian Association of Christian Schools and Christian Schools Australia HERE.

ACT Calvary Hospital Takeover

In May, the ACT Greens-Labor government announced they would forcibly acquire Calvary Public Hospital through legislation, reportedly  because of their pro-life position and refusal to provide abortion and euthanasia services. In response to this decision, federal Senator Matt Canavan introduced the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill 2023 which would require the ACT Government to conduct an inquiry into the legisation under which the ACT Government compulsorily acquired the hospital.

With the support of our Canberra schools, AACS and CSA wrote a joint letter in support of this inquiry which you can read HERE

Human Rights Framework Inquiry

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is conducting an Inquiry to review the scope and effectiveness of Australia's 2010 Human Rights Framework and the National Human Rights Action Plan. AACS has provided a submission to the Inquiry outlining our serious concerns with the proposed Human Rights Act which fails to comprehensively protect the international human rights of parents and religious schools.

Read the AACS submission to the Inquiry HERE

Review of the Queensland Non-State School Accreditation Framework

AACS appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback on a review of the current accreditation framework for non-state schools in Queensland. At a virtual roundtable discussion with Prof. Cheryl Vardon, who is leading the review, AACS along with other governing bodies of independant schools raised significant concerns about the implementation of the current accreditation framework.

Read the AACS response here

Consultation Paper “Updating the Fair Work Act 2009 to provide stronger protections for workers against discrimination”

AACS have indicated in their submission to the consulation on "Updating the Fair Work Act 2009" that it is premature for the Government to introduce amendments to the anti-discrimination framework of the Fair Work Act until the ALRC review has handed its final report to the Government at the end of 2023. 

Read the AACS submission

Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill Exposure Draft

The Department of the Attorney-General and Justice released the draft Anti?Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022 for public consultation ('Exposure Draft Bill') in June. The Exposure Draft Bill contains a number of proposed reforms to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (the Act), which are the result of a comprehensive review by the Department in 2017/2018. The Department called for submissions to be made by 12 August 2022.

Read our submission

Queensland Human Rights Commission Review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) 

Following a referral by the Attorney-General, the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) conducted a wholesale review into the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld). The QHRC released a Discussion Paper in November 2021 and called for submissions to be made by March 2022. AACS made a submission in March 2022.

Read our submission

Discrimination Law Reform in the ACT

This reform proposal considers options for responding to recommendations made by the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council (LRAC) in its 2015 review of the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT) ('Act'). Most of the LRAC recommendations for change to the Act have already been implemented. However, recommendations in the areas of coverage, exceptions and positive duty remain outstanding. The Justice and Community Safety Directorate released a Discussion Paper in October 2021, to which we have responded.

Read our submission

Review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)

At the instruction of the WA Attorney-General, the Law Reform Commission of WA is conducting a review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA). The Attorney's instruction specifically referenced the exceptions that Christian Schools rely on to build faith-based communities for our children. The Law Reform Commission has provided a Discussion Paper to which AACS made a submission.

Read our submission

2021 Australian Curriculum Review

AACS provided feedback to ACARA about the proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum. Christian school teachers were also encouraged by AACS to provide their own feedback about specific subject areas on the proposed curriculum revisions through an online survey. 

Read our submission

2021 Tasmania Law Reform Institute - Conversion Practices: Law Reform Options for Tasmania

AACS welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission in response to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s (TLRI) community consultation into ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ (SOGI) conversion practices. where we outlined our significant concerns about the practical implications of the recent introduction of conversion practice laws in Qld, ACT and currently under consideration by the Victorian Parliament for our staff and parents. 

Read our submission 

Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA)

The South Australian Government indicated its intention to amend the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 so that Christian schools will be prevented from relying on the religious exception to anti-discrimination laws, although they have an existing separate exception specifically relating to hiring practices. AACS provided a submission to the consultation.

Read the submission

2020 Review - Disability Standards for Education 2005

Christian schools are committed to educating all students wanting a Christian education, including those with disabilities. To meet this challenge and successfully support students with disabilities we recommend the Government consider how it might increase resources for training and support of staff in this area. AACS provided a joint submission along with Christian Schools Australia and Adventist Schools Australia into the 2020 Review of the Standards which you can read below.

Read the joint submission

Religious Freedoms and Equality Bill 2020 (NSW)

The introduction of Mark Latham's Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 aims to protect religious freedoms in New South Wales through amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). AACS strongly supports this bill because in the current climate of antipathy towards people of faith we believe a greater level of legal protection for freedom of belief and religion is required. Freedom of belief in a society means having a broad range of educational options through which such beliefs can be expressed. Choice in schooling provides parents with the opportunity to choose a school that is religiously motivated or one that is not. As an association of schools that operate within a multicultural and pluralist society AACS is committed to ensuring that all communities have the freedom to express themselves and live according to their beliefs. 

Read the submission

Inquiry into the Australian Education Amendment (Direct Measure of Income) Bill 2020

In our submission to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee’s inquiry into funding models, AACS reiterated our desire for a consistent, needs-based, sector-blind school funding model for Australian students and their families. We are grateful that the school funding model is well on the way toward a more detailed collection and analysis of parental income through the first iteration of the Direct Measure of Income (DMI) model to determine Capacity to Contribute (CTC) scores.

Read the submission

 Religious Discrimination Bill 2019

AACS commends the Government on its improvements to the Religious Discrimination Bill in response to feedback provided in consultation with the Australian community. It is a step towards our main priority: ensuring that parents retain the ability to educate their children at schools that accord with their faith. The Bill provides that there is no religious discrimination where a religious school engages in good faith in conduct that is in accordance with the beliefs and teachings of their religion. This allows us to maintain our schools’ distinctive culture, ethos and pedagogy. The AACS submissions are below:

AACS submission on the 2nd exposure draft

AACS submission on the 1st exposure draft

Inquiry into the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (QLD)

AACS collaborated with Adventist Schools Australia (ASA), the Associated Christian Schools (ACS) group and Christian Schools Australia (CSA) to lodge a submission to the Queensland Parliament’s Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee. Our submission makes it clear that our groups consider a bill whereby the government mandates a school counsellor’s response to a particular student, regardless of their clinical opinion and under the guise of banning vaguely defined ‘conversion therapy’ – is dangerous and unjustified.

Read the joint submission

Expert Panel on Religious Freedom 2018

On 22 November 2017, the then Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion. The Panel received more than 15,500 submissions to the Religious Freedom Review. In our submission, AACS requested that the common understandings of religious freedom protection within human rights law be re-affirmed, that areas of ambiguity be clarified, and that more substantive religious and associational freedoms protection be afforded to all religious schools.

Read the submission

Modernisation of Anti-Discrimination Act (NT) 2017

In its submission to the Department of Attorney-General and Justice of the Northern Territory in response to its Discussion Paper ‘Modernisation of Anti-Discrimination Act’ (September 2017) argued strongly against the proposals which would lead to the removal of religious and associational freedom presently enjoyed by educational facilities, students and their parents in the Northern Territory.

Read the submission

Your Member of Parliament

AACS encourages school leaders to cultivate a positive relationship with their political representatives to ensure they experience the character of our schools and know the contribution they make to the intellectual, economic, social, cultural, moral and spiritual capital of the nation. Local members and senators are open to invitations to visit schools in their electorate and provide an opportunity to highlight the distinctives of Christian education, the importance of parental choice and any local issues. AACS is available to brief school leaders on current issues that you may like to raise with your representatives and prepare you for hosting a school visit or a meeting in Canberra. You can find the contact detilas of your local Member of Parliament here.

Visiting Parliament

School visits to the Nation's Capital provide many rich learning opportunities for students, including a tour of Parliament House, and AACS can assist with advice and support to set up meetings with your local member while you are in here. The Australian Parliament's School Visit Program provides a unique opportunity for primary and secondary schools to gain a first hand appreciation of law-making and democracy in Australia.