Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia (AUC) have affirmed the right to continue to employ staff in Adventist schools who share the Church’s principles and beliefs.
They are among leaders from a number of denominations who have expressed concern over a push to remove the ability of faith-based schools to ensure staff share their faith, values and beliefs. The calls were sparked by leaked recommendations from the Ruddock Review into religious freedom, and have caused widespread political and public debate. The review has not yet been publicly released.
In Adventist schools, the values and beliefs of Christianity are not just tacked onto an academic program—they are foundational and central to everything that happens within them, according to AUC leaders.
"It is imperative that faith-based schools have the freedom to operate according to their religious beliefs."
“It is essential therefore, that our teachers share the values, beliefs and moral principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church so that they can contribute to the culture and faith ethos of our schools and be positive role models of those beliefs, including in areas of spirituality, lifestyles and relationships,” AUC general secretary Pastor Michael Worker said.
Adventist Schools Australia national director Dr Daryl Murdoch said Adventist schools take a wholistic approach to education—nurturing physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs to facilitate the balanced development of every student.
“This balanced, values based approach to education is highly regarded in the communities we serve,” he said.
“It is imperative that faith-based schools have the freedom to operate according to their religious beliefs, including the right to employ staff who support and reflect their convictions and values.”
The Ruddock Review into religious freedom was commissioned by the federal government to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion. More than 15,500 submissions were received by the panel, which delivered its report to the Prime Minister in May. The government is yet to release and respond to the report.