Victorian health services release joint statement against Religious Discrimination Bill

February 26, 2020

Victorian health services have today released a joint statement calling on the Australian Government to ensure that the Religious Discrimination Bill does not privilege religious interest above the interest of other Australians.

The joint statement, co-ordinated by cohealth with support from the Victorian Healthcare Association, sets out concern from the 15 signatory organisations that the second draft of the Australian Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill has the potential to compromise care for marginalised Victorians and constrain the health sector’s ability to provide that care.

While the primary aim of the Bill is to prohibit religious discrimination, even with recent amendments, there remain a range of exemptions that would allow discrimination to continue and health care to potentially be adversely impacted.

Under the Bill, health practitioners can still refuse to perform certain procedures or dispense certain drugs, provided they refuse to do so for all patients. This means that many people who use health and community services are at risk of having their rights denied or disrespected and may find it harder to access health care from health professionals.

The statement calls on colleagues, community partners and professional associations to join the signatories in protecting the right of patients to access care.

The joint statement is available here.

For more information email Ben Rogers, VHA Policy Advisor at ben.rogers@vha.org.au.