HSV Submissions Archive 1990 to 1999

Submissions Archive:  2000–2009   1990–1999   1980–1989   1970–1979

Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital TerritoryAn important activity of Humanist Society of Victoria is the making of submissions to various responsible bodies, communicating the Humanist view on social issues and policies, as formulated by the members at specially convened discussion meetings. Usually it is in response to public calls for submissions, sometimes our members provide the impetus. The Humanist Society of Victoria has been doing this work at least since 1973. This is a list of our submissions of recent years.

The titles of a series of submissions on a single issue are appended (1), (2), (3), etc.
A short note on a submission is accessed by clicking on the note number in [square] brackets.

Year Title Recipient Jurisdiction
1999 Freedom of Religion and Belief Human Rights Subcommittee FED
Independence and Integrity of the ABC View PDF … Office of Prime Minister FED
Inquiry into Human Cloning House of Representatives Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs FED
Declaration and Strategies for Reconciliation Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation FED
Welfare Reform Review Dept Family and Community Services FED
1998 Census 2001 via Council of Australian Humanist Societies (CAHS) FED
Youth Homelessness Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet FED
Research on Human Subjects I Australian Health Ethics Committee FED
Research on Human Subjects II Australian Health Ethics Committee FED
1997 Suicide Prevention Suicide Prevention Task Force VIC
Right to Believe Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission FED
South Australia Voluntary Euthanasia Bill Select Committee on the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill SA
Native Title (Wik) Joint Committee on Native Title FED
Aboriginal Reconciliation Read Update … Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Affairs, John Heron, Prime Minister, John Howard and Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation FED
Constitutional Convention on Republic Constitutional Convention and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet FED
1996 Homeless Youth Prime Minister, John Howard FED
Portrayal of Violence [8] Department of Communications and the Arts FED
Organ Retrieval and Donation [7] Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council FED
Adult and Community Education Senate Committee on Education and Training FED
Assisted Reproductive Technology, Draft Guidelines [6] Australian Health and Ethics Committee (National Health and Medical Research Council) FED
Review of ABC Mansfield Inquiry on ABC FED
Voluntary Euthanasia and Abortion Minister for Health and Family Services, M. Wooldridge FED
Sentencing in Victoria Community Council Against Violence VIC
Euthanasia Laws Bill, 1996 Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee FED
Research on Human Subjects Australian Health Ethics Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council FED
1995 World Population Conference, Cairo Senator Nick Bolkus FED
Workforce of the future Standing Ctee on Long-term Strategies, HR FED
“Schools of the Future” in Victoria Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training, Ross Free FED
Medical Assistance in Voluntary Euthanasia President, Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr D. Weedon
Illicit Drug Use in Victoria Drug Advisory Council VIC
1994 Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer Guidelines National Health and Medical Research Council
Mental Illness and Firearms Misuse Ministry of Police and Emergency Services NSW
Media’s Code of Ethics Media, Entertainment and Arts Association: Ethics Review Committee
Female Genital Mutilation Family Law Council
Restoring Full Employment Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet FED
Aged Care [5] Australian Law Reform Commission FED
The Civil Celebrants Program Attorney-General, Hon. M. H. Lavarch FED
Tasmania’s Anti-Homosexual Laws [4] Attorney-General, Hon. M. H. Lavarch FED
The Trials of RU486 Minister for Health, Hon. Dr. Carmen Lawrence FED
Medical Assistance to the Dying Minister for Health, Hon. Dr. Carmen Lawrence FED
1993 Radio and TV Broadcasts Australian Broadcasting Authority
ASTEC’s Work Program 1993–1994 Australian Science and Technology Council
Census on Religion 1996 Australian Bureau of Statistics
Indigenous People: A New Partnership Minister for Aboriginal Affairs FED
Gender Issues and the Judiciary Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs FED
Rights and Obligations of the Media Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs FED
Equality Before the Law Australian Law Reform Commission FED
Australian Law Reform Commission House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Review of the Firearms Act Firearms Consultative Committee
Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Australian Workplace [1] Drugs of Dependence (DoD) Branch, Department of Health FED
Inquiry into the Workplace of the Future House of Representatives Standing Committee on Long Term Strategies FED
High Priority Subjects for Research Read Update … Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC)
1991 Multiculturalism: Family Law Australian Law Reform Commission FED
Multiculturalism: Criminal Law Australian Law Reform Commission FED
Death Caused by Dangerous Driving Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
The Bail Act 1977, A Review Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy Minister for the Environment FED
Restrictions on Legal Practice Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Accountability of the Legal Profession Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Firearms Restriction Premier of Victoria VIC
1990 All-male Jury [2] Attorney-General FED
Religious Instructions in Schools Minister for Education VIC
Equal Opportunity Act: Review, 2nd Paper Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Enduring Powers of Attorney Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
The Report on Priorities in Higher Education Federal Parliamentary Standing Committee FED
The Law of Blasphemy [3] Attorney-General, Minister for Justice FED
The Cost of Law Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Choice of Law Rules Australian Law Reform Commission FED
Infertility Counselling Bioethics Consultative Committee
Inquiry into Public Violence Victorian Community Council Against Violence VIC
Multiculturalism and the Law Australian Law Reform Commission FED
National Inquiry Concerning the Human Rights of People with Mental Illness Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Surrogacy: 2. Implementation National Bioethics Consultative Committee


[1] Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Australian Workplace – submitted 15 November 1993 – Main points made were the need for intensive educational campaign to change this strong cultural trait. Safety related tests for alcohol and other drugs of dependence that affect performance should be carried out in the workplace.

[2] All-male Jury – The granting of the request to have an all-male jury. The Bible repeatedly specifies that it was man’s God-given right to judge and thus the defendant refused to have women serving on the jury. The judge agreed. (No prizes for guessing it happened in Queensland.)

[3] The Law of Blasphemy – it is proposed that the law should be extended to apply to faiths other than Christianity. This is in relation to the Salman Rushdie affair.

[4] Tasmania’s Anti-Homosexual Laws – submitted 17 August 1994 – The Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) stated that both the HSV and the Council of Australian Humanist Societies (CAHS) have previously lobbied for the decriminalisation of homosexual activity between consenting adults in private. The main grounds were that it is private, voluntary and victimless behaviour, and that the law and the government should not regulate intimate acts, and that it has a duty to protect victims of prejudice, discrimination and persecution.

Tasmania is the only State in Australia that retains and occasionally invokes its criminal code against homosexuals. This is the subject of condemnation by several international bodies such as Amnesty International [and] the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and it puts us in breach of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which Australia is a signatory. We see this as a grievous harm to Australia’s reputation among civilised nations.

We pointed to the general tolerance and acceptance of diversity as a mark of a mature society; to the many respected and admirable people who are gay or lesbian in their orientation; [and] that some scientific evidence suggests that such orientation may be genetically determined.

We urged that these Tasmanian criminal codes be annulled and that Equal Opportunity and Anti-discrimination Acts include sexual orientation as a ground for complaint. (This is not available as redress in Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.) Archaic, brutal and oppressive laws must be repealed. Our statutes reflect our humaneness and degree of civilisation.

[5] Aged Care – submitted 19 July 1994 – In response to Discussion Paper 57, HSV made the following points:
(a) Support for the recommendations of the recently published report on care of the aged in nursing homes by Professor Gregory of the ANU.
(b) That consultation be made with the aged through their organisations and agencies of local government.
(c) The new legislation to include charters of rights and expectations of outcomes.
(d) Community visitors scheme and advocacy services to be regulated on a national basis.
(e) Privacy of personal information to be protected in law and to be a condition of funding.
(f) Service providers to be subject to better accreditation and accountability than is required at present.
(g) The new legislation to be uniform Federally, to be written in plain English, and contain a “sunset clause” or provisions for review.
(h) The need for education of the community and of the aged on the rights and the autonomy to choose options to live and die with dignity.

[6] Assisted Reproductive Technology, Draft Guidelines – submitted 6 August 1996 – The Australian Health Ethics Committee, a principal section of the National Health and Medical Council, issued draft guidelines on assisted reproductive technology for comment from interested bodies. In the HSV submission, we made the following points:
(a) Accreditation of practitioners and accountability of practice are imperative.
(b) Assessment of prospective parents should be based on their socio-affective skills as this is the most important parenting quality.
(c) Altruistic surrogacy should be assisted rather than drive this practice “backyard’ where neither counselling nor proper antenatal tests are provided.
(d) Most detailed, thorough information to be provided to applicants with checks on their final perceptions and expectations of outcomes.
(e) Counselling should be carried out by highly accredited professionals.
(f) Couples should be able to donate their no longer wanted frozen embryos for research.
(g) Generating embryos for research purposes should be permitted.
(h) Reliable sex selection should be available for medical but not social reasons.

[7] Organ Retrieval and Donation – submitted 16 July 1996 – In the HSV submission, we made the following points:
(a) Australia has one of the lowest rates of organ donations, for transplants and hundreds each year because of this shortage.
(b) General public is poorly informed about the existing programs and its many successes. The media should assist in this area.
(c) Only a small minority of people carry organ donor cards: many are unaware of such provision. The family may reject request for organs and so ignore the wishes of the deceased.
(d) We therefore support the proposal of an organ registry where competent adults may enlist to specify their wishes regarding the donation of their organs. These advance directives, stored in a central registry, would allow the exercise of autonomy and personal responsibility.
(e) Incentives could enhance this program: organ donors would have priority to receive organs from this program should they require a transplant. Those who did not wish to be donors will join the normal waiting list should they become recipients. Exceptions, as at present, would be made on the basis of age and prognosis.
(f) Such prior commitments would facilitate matching for compatibility between donors and recipients. Opting-out system, i.e. only those who refuse to be donors carry a card to indicate this. With this “presumed consent” system, Austria and Belgium achieve a much higher kidney procurement than others.
(g) Familial consent should be required only in cases of children and mentally handicapped adults. Otherwise relatives should not be able to disregard a stated wish of an autonomous adult. Each of these measures would require a program of community education.
(List of references supplied)

[8] Portrayal of Violence – submitted 10 June 1996 -In the HSV submission on the Portrayal of Violence and the linkage, if any, with violent behaviour, we made the following points:
(a) Quoted findings of major inquiries on this subject in the past, e.g. from UNESCO: “Violence existed before the mass media. Although the media should not be absolved from their responsibilities, it would be misleading to regard them as the roots of violent behaviour. These are more likely to be found in the frustration engendered by such practice as inequality, social injustice, overcrowding, urbanisation and so on”.
(b) Other inquiries show positive association between viewing televised violence and subsequent aggressive behaviour in some children and adults, but fail to establish causal relations.
(c) Modern technology now offers easy access to unclassified material and recent material show graphic depictions of torture, mutilations, rape and degrading acts.
(d) We support measures to limit children’s access to such material e.g. the UK “watershed” system where all graphic violence (factional and fictional) is shown after 9 p.m., making the V-chip available and affordable and greater restrictions on importation and production of such material.
(e) Self-regulation and codes of practice within the mass media fail to meet community expectations.
(f) Our main concern is with the underlying causes of violence which we believe to be: inadequate socialisation of children, particularly boys, in non-violent ways of resolving conflict; the acceptance of violence in sport and in domestic conflicts as the norm; social deprivations such as inequality of access to services, inadequate care in childhood overcrowding; unemployment and lack of prospects for the future.
(g) Social structures should be set up for those deprived to provide meaningful involvement in and a sense of belonging to the society. Otherwise aggression and violence will continue.
(h) Family planning should be fostered to ensure that every child is a wanted child. There will be fewer stressed, impoverished families with maltreated children.
(i) Enculturing arbitration and conciliation in public life e.g. family or industrial conflict.
(j) We strongly support proposals for intensive public and school education campaign on non-violent conflict resolution methods, positive role models in the media and discerning approach to selection of viewing material.