Equal Opportunity (Religious Exemptions) Amendment Act 2021

An update in relation to the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Act 2021(the Act), which was passed by the Victorian Government on 3 December 2021.

The majority of reforms under the Act commenced on 14 June 2022, with the exception of amendments to the religious exception in goods and services which will commence on 14 December 2022. The reforms commencing on 14/6 meant that religious organisations and schools cannot discriminate against an employee or school student, or potential employee or student, on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, lawful sexual activity or parental status.

Under the Act, religious organisations and schools will only be able to make employment decisions based on an employee’s religious beliefs where these are inherent to the job, such as a religious studies teacher, and the discrimination is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

Under the changes, religious schools can only discriminate based on a student, or potential student’s, religious beliefs or activities where the discrimination is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances and to do so would conform with the school’s doctrines, beliefs or principles of the religion, or the discrimination is reasonably necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of the school’s religion.

Religious bodies can still discriminate based on certain personal characteristics in other circumstances. However, there is a new requirement that the discrimination must be reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances. There are no changes to religious bodies’ ability to discriminate when ordaining, appointing or training people to be priests or members of a religious order.

For further information, please see the factsheet available at this link

Further information on the 14 December 2022 changes to the religious exception in goods and services will be provided at a later date.

If you need further clarification or wish to speak with the DJCS please contact Rachel Burrows on this email address –
(The Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) is where this legislation is being coordinated).

Alternatively you could contact Vivienne Nguyen AM
Chairperson |Victorian Multicultural Commission
Level 3, 1 Macarthur Street, East Melbourne 3002
M: 0448 718 668 E: