Last month the Perrottet Government again revealed the misogynist attitudes of the Liberal Party in announcing its new Religious Communities Advisory Council.
Of the fifteen members appointed by the Perrottet Government, only two are women. Women are now the backbone of religious communities in Australia and yet the Perrottet Government has again deemed them of little significance. Some religious communities have shown more than 60% of attendees are now women and women across many religions are increasingly challenging male dominated structures. This approach by the Government further places NSW women into to positions of vulnerability and exploitation.
Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Joseph Coure announced this State Government initiative in December “helping the NSW Government strengthen engagement with faith communities”. MCC NSW welcomes Minister Coure’s initiative however, his initiative is apparently marred with women as having little to contribute to that engagement.
One of the key objectives outlined by Minister Coure’s for the new council was to “identify opportunities to reduce intolerance by promoting community safety, harmony and cohesion.”
However, the relegation of women to an extremely token role contradicts the Perrottet Government’s commitment to gender diversity.
The absence of a Sikh representative to the 15 people Religious Council is another important factor that the government overlooked, despite the Sikhs being the 7th largest group in NSW.
In addition, there is no one with an east Asian background on the Council, despite this being the biggest source of the NSW’s recent immigration.
We do not quarrel with the merits of the government appointments to the Council however, the composition of the present appointment gives a perception that the process lacked
sensitivity or understanding to ensure a reasonable high representation of most religious groups in NSW. As it stands, the Government’s good intentions is negated by the perception
of the multicultural community that the government do not even pursue its own policy claims on diversity.
Author: Mark Franklin, Vice-Chair, MCC NSW
Authorized by: Dr Anthony Pun, OAM, Chair, MCCNSW
Mr Ajmer Singh Gill, National President, NSCA
Mr Dickson Mak, Vice-President, CCCA.