How To Write A Submission To The Ruddock Review

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Denise Krebs

Think First

Please take a few minutes to read this material and think carefully about what you want to say. Feel comfortable and confident about your ideas before you write your submission.

This is an opportunity to have your say on religious freedoms. The future of marriage equality may depend on the outcome of this inquiry.

Points To Ponder

  • Writing a submission does not require any specialist talent or knowledge, as long as you stay polite, and your comments remain relevant and reasonable. Your submission should reflect you and your positive desire to contribute to public debate. If you use rude or problematic content, your submission may be rejected.
  • Form letters may be rejected. Nor does plagiarism help your cause. Rather than copying and pasting someone else’s ideas (even with their consent), it is best to write your own unique submission. By all means, quote or reference someone else’s material if it supports your argument, but identify it clearly as a quote or citation, and use a footnote or in-text reference to identify the original author and source, as you might in a formal essay.
  • You need to consent for your material to be published and your name to be used. Be aware that this means that your submission may be published on line and visible to the world, so write something that you are proud to attach to your name.
  • There is also an option to have your submission published anonymously, or for it to be confidential (not published but read by the committee or their agents etc). If you choose this option, be sure to remove your name and other identifying details from your actual submission, and carefully check the privacy conditions as supplied on their online submission form.

Terms Of Reference

The ‘scope’ of the Religious Freedom Review focuses predominantly upon this point:

* Consider the intersections between the enjoyment of the freedom of religion and other human rights.

You therefore have the opportunity to write anything that fits within that topic. For example, you might talk about

  • The equality of all people, regardless of sexuality, culture, religious belief or non-belief.
  • Or the rights of religious conservatives to discriminate versus the rights of religious progressives who wish to be inclusive.
  • Or how freedom OF religion should also include freedom FROM religion.
  • Or how allies of LGBTQ people are supportive of marriage equality.

Whatever you like. Invent or choose your own topic. It is up to you. Be creative! Be passionate! Be unique! Here is your chance to have a say and hopefully make a difference!

If you want further details about the ‘scope’ of this inquiry, please feel free to browse their website before you write or submit anything. Their website can be found at:
https://pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/religious-freedom-review

This website may be helpful to give you ideas for this inquiry, especially:
http://thestirrer.com.au/holy-freight-train-coming/
as well as many LGBTQIA+ Facebook groups and individuals who also have their own advice.

Ready? Then get writing!

What To Say

You may like to include any of the following in separate paragraphs (or leave some out if not appropriate for you):
Any relevant details about your background, eg involvement in religious, LGBTQI or atheist/secular activism, an interest in human rights, etc. but do not identify yourself within any specific organisation or church etc, unless you are authorised to do so.

  1. Explain your ideas/arguments one at a time. Include examples or evidence for each point where you can. Keep your language cool and calm.
  2. Do you have your own relevant life experiences to support or illustrate your ideas? If so, you might like to include them, but do not identify other individuals involved etc.
  3. You may like to include specific recommendations (what do you want them to do or decide?)
  4. When you have finished, thank them for the opportunity to contribute.

Your submission does not have to be long – in general, provided you have adequately explained your ideas, less is more.

Check, and Check Again

Write out your full submission and proof read it thoroughly. You may like to ask someone to proof read it for you. Maybe ‘sleep on it’ and read it afresh a day or two later, to ensure that you are happy with the final product.

When you are happy with it, you can submit it online via their website:
https://pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/religious-freedom-review
or check their website for other ways that you can submit.

Deadline 14 February.

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This advice is simply a collection of thoughts based upon my own personal experiences in writing submissions to government inquiries. It is not professional advice. If you have any specific questions about the Religious Freedom Review, then you should contact them directly at religiousfreedom@pmc.gov.au.

Anyone who finds mistakes in this material, or who would like to offer alternate suggestions, please leave comments below and I will endeavour to amend or update this material ASAP.

Geoff Allshorn

Geoff is currently co-convenor of the Rainbow Atheists Facebook group