SAMPLE RESPONSE 1
I am highly concerned by the draft report and reforms to the DGR system. I think it is good that you are looking at expanding the system to cover more initiatives such as animal welfare, but I am quite concerned that to achieve this you are taking away DGR status from almost exclusively religious charities – which will have a huge impact on important initiatives such as school building funds and religious education in government schools.
Australia is the most multicultural nation on earth, and approximately 60% of Australians identify with a religion. Yet, your report seems to be based on an ideology that religion is of no community-wide benefit. Research shows that one of the best ways to promote social cohesion is through religious education in schools – putting extra pressure on this education, and its teachers, is not a quality decision for Australia, and will have long term ramifications.
The Religious Education teachers in Australia represent the largest weekly group of volunteers in our nation. In a report where on the one hand, you are articulating the government’s goal to double giving (financial and volunteering) by 2030, on the other hand you are removing privileges and help from faith communities that represent a huge proportion of the people who will help you, and are helping you right now, achieve that goal. This is not a wise decision.
On top of that, school building funds are to have their DGR status removed, because back in the 1950s when DGR status was established, no government support was given by other means and now it is. This is not a good enough reason – unless the government is going to actually front up and supply ALL the capital expenditure needs of these schools (which I’m sure they won’t) why would you then seek to penalise both the schools AND the private citizens who are donating to these schools and funding education? Faith-based education is the fastest growing sector of education in Australia – which tells us that this is what our communities want and are actively using. So why make it harder for this to happen and be successful?
In short, you are penalising both the fastest growing sector of education – which is predominantly privately funded by citizens – and are also putting undue pressure on the largest weekly group of volunteers in Australia, and risking a lower level of social cohesion as a result. I think we, and you, can do a lot better than this. In light of everything I have stated above, I completely reject your [presumption that these initiatives are of little “community-wide benefit” and would encourage you, even if you don’t have a religious belief yourself, to understand that your report is discriminatory and minimising in its ideology – and that this will damage Australia as a result.
SAMPLE RESPONSE 2:
I’m so worried about what these suggested reforms will mean for Australia – and hope there is room within this process not just to comment on their outworking, but to change what they are proposed to be.
Research shows very clearly that Religious Education provides strong community-wide benefits because it helps diffuse racial and religious tensions. It enables instruction to be within a monitored environment – as opposed to either be non-existent and fed by radical events in the media, or for education to be outworked by radical content online.
I’m sure you will probably say at this point that your report is not trying to remove religious education – but by removing DGR status, you will. You are placing undue financial pressure on a system that actually represents Australia’s largest weekly volunteer group. I don’t understand why this wasn’t taken into account in your report, when you articulate that the government wants to double giving (finances and volunteering) by 2030. Your reforms, and this goal, seem to be at odds. Perhaps everyone who was part of forming this report has no connection to a religion? 60% of the population in Australia does, and Australia is the most multicultural community on earth. Social cohesion is therefore hugely important in Australia – and religious education is well-researched to build this. This IS a community-wide benefit – and yet religion in your report appears to be treated otherwise.
I am also concerned about the pressure your reforms will place on school building funds. Faith-based education is the fastest growing sector of education – it is what Australians are increasingly turning to. Funding for these schools is mainly through fees and donations – so why are you therefore making it harder for them to provide quality education, just because the government provides a bit more support for them through other means than in 1950s? I think the government SHOULD provide more support – not be taking it away. DGR mechanisms enable the people of Australia to donate and fund some of our education system themselves. If these schools go under, or have to provide lower quality facilities, then then Australia will pay a heavy price.
It seems to me that because they have the word ‘religion’ associated with it, that other contrary particular voices have been elevated, and these initiatives have been labelled as not ‘community-wide benefit’. This is an error.
Your report shows that overall donations have increased, but that they are coming from a smaller pool of people. Together with cost of living pressures, I read this to mean that the average income person in Australia is not giving as much anymore. If people have the option to give somewhere either with or without DGR status, I think the average Australian would ultimately lean towards choosing those with. So – you are making it harder for these volunteers to do their valuable work, and for schools to provide the best education facilities they can for the next generation. Australia can, and needs to, do better than this.Send a Comment