HSV Submissions Archive 1980 to 1989

Activity Type:

Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital TerritoryThe Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) regularly makes submissions to various responsible bodies, including Senate Committees, Royal Commissions and Government policy reviews. HSV also communicates humanist concerns to politicians of all political persuasions. The content of these communications is formulated by the members at specially convened discussion meetings. This advocacy forms an important part of the work of HSV in disseminating and promoting the humanist view in ethics and religion. Through these representations, HSV is making valuable contributions to civil society.

In the list of submissions below, the titles of a series of submissions on a single issue are appended (1), (2), (3), etc. Access a short note on a submission by clicking on the note number in [square] brackets.
Download complete HSV Submissions List in PDF format.

Year Title Recipient Jurisdiction
1989 Violence on Television [9] Australian Broadcasting Tribunal FED
Reproductive Technology: Records, Information [10] National Bioethics Consultative Committee FED
Violence: Directions for Australia [12] National Committee on Violence FED
Review of Embryo Experimentation “Post Syngamy” [11] Standing Review and Advisory Committee on Infertility FED
Equal Opportunity Act Review [13] Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Green Spot Scheme, Interim Report [14] Ministry for Planning and Environment VIC
The Social Responsibilities of Commonwealth Statutory Authorities and Government Business Enterprises Joint Parliament Committee of Public Accounts FED
Surrogacy The National Bioethics Consultative Committee
1988 Informed Consent to Medical Treatment View PDF … Australian Law Reform Commission, Victorian Law Reform Commission, N.S.W. Law Reform Commission FED/VIC/NSW
Inquiry into Community Violence [3] Social Development Committee Victoria VIC
Unemployed Income Support Scheme [4] Minister for Social Security FED
Sexual Offences Against Children Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Homicide [6] Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Drugs, Crime and Society [7] Parliamentary Joint Committee on National Crime Authority FED
Priorities for Reform in Higher Education [8] Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training FED
Community Involvement of Retired Persons House of Representatives Standing Committee on Community Affairs FED
Citizenship Studies in Schools [5] Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police VIC
1987 Constitutional Reform Commonwealth Commission on Constitution Reform FED
Multicultural Council: Roles and Priorities Department of the Prime Minister FED
Immigration Policy [2] Committee to Advise on Australia’s Immigration Policies FED
Health Issues View PDF … Victorian Minister for Health VIC
Gun Control View PDF … Coalition for Gun Control
1986 Criminal Assault in the Home View PDF … Women’s Policy Coordination Unit, Department of the Premier and Cabinet VIC
Evidence Reform (Unsworn Statements) Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
The Human Embryo Experimentation Bill 1985 View PDF … Senate Standing Committee FED
Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) [1] Commonwealth Law Reform Commission FED
Support Services for Victims of Crime View PDF … Victorian Legal and Constitutional Committee VIC
Options for Dying with Dignity View PDF … Victorian Social Development Committee VIC
Social Education View PDF … Education Department VIC
Human Rights in Victoria View PDF … Legal and Constitutional Committee VIC
1985 Inquiry into Prostitution Victorian Government VIC
Australian Studies in Tertiary Education Education Department ACT
Religion in Population Census Australian Bureau of Statistics
Health Promotion and Education Health Department VIC
Multicultural Education Naccme – Education Department FED
Education of Gifted and Talented Children View PDF … Education Department FED
1984 IVF The WaIler Committee FED
Contempt of Court Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
Intoxication and Criminal Responsibility Victorian Law Reform Commission VIC
1983 Conscientious Objections FED
1982 Prayers The Speaker, House of Assembly VIC


[1] Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) – submitted 3 Mar 1986 – HSV’s submission was in response to the Commonwealth Law Reform Commission’s discussion paper. It concerned the concept that, after a certain period has elapsed after a conviction has been recorded, or a sentence completed, the conviction be considered as spent and that details should not be released by record keepers. The subject was discussed at one of our Sunday Discussions. In June of this year the CLRC published a report of their conclusions and a Draft Spent Convictions Bill. It was pleasing to note that our Humanist views received several mentions in the majority and the minority report.

The Draft Bill provides that sentences be declared spent 10 years after the date of conviction or completion of a custodial sentence provided no further conviction occurs. In the case of a Children’s Court Conviction, the period is two years. The provisions can be waived in exceptional circumstances under Regulations approved by the Governor-General. The end result was much more conservative than we advanced, but it was encouraging to have Humanist views acknowledged.

[2] Immigration Policy – submitted 20 Nov 1987 – HSV summarized its submission as follows:
(a) The nine fundamental principles based on the 1978 Green Paper form a rational and compassionate policy on immigration to Australia.
(b) The social and humanitarian objectives should be managed to promote economic benefit or to minimise adverse economic effect.
(c) Well researched manpower planning should be the basis for selection of skilled migrants.
(d) The Migrant and Multicultural Programs and Services should facilitate the learning of English for those who lack this essential skill.
(e) In the often conflicting cultural needs of parents and children, the right of the child to develop a full potential should be protected.
(f) The needs of parents to maintain cultural links with their children would be met by the teaching of specific language, history and tradition within each ethnic group.
(g) We see a serious threat of conflict arising from the divisiveness that many religions engender. We therefore urge strongly that any specific religious education not be provided by the State but exist only in private. As a measure towards tolerance and cohesiveness of this community, schools should instruct in comparative religion.
(h) As a condition of entry into this country a declaration should be made to desist from illegal practices such as female genital mutilation.
(i) In a similar way settlers in this country should undertake not to continue their former national, political or religious hostilities.

[3] Inquiry into Community Violence – submitted 15 Feb 1988 – In response, Victorian Parliament’s Social Development Committee sent report and recommendations. These include the establishment of a Community Council Against Violence with these goals:
(a) the improvement of detection, sanctions and preventative measures,
(b) the reduction of domestic violence,
(c) the improvement of support services,
(d) a change in community attitudes and values,
(e) the reduction of inappropriate portrayals of actual or fictionalised violence, and
(f) the improvement of control of offensive weapons.
(The last two objectives are also part of the aims and policy of the Coalition for Gun Control, which HSV supported from its outset. It is encouraging to see our views shared by a major investigative body. Further recommendations deal with the structure, administration, powers and accountability of the proposed Council.

[4] Unemployed Income Support Scheme – submitted 10 Apr 1988 – HSV made the following recommendations:
(a) Work opportunities should be increased by restriction of overtime, job sharing, part time work, shorter hours and shift work.
(b) Expansion of public and private accommodation construction should be a priority. This will provide work and urgently needed housing immediately.
(c) Self-employment should be encouraged by special education and establishment finance.
(d) Capital resources should be channelled into productive enterprises by sticks and carrots.
(e) Until the level of unemployment is greatly reduced, immigration should be restricted to persons with required skills or definite job prospects. Family reunion programs should encompass only parents, spouses and children.
(f) The payment of unemployment benefits should be conditional on a strictly enforced work test. Those who are jobless due to skill redundancy should be obliged undertake retraining. Those approaching retirement age could participate in co-operatives, in training school leavers in their particular skill, or in a similar voluntary social service.

Minister for Social Security, Howe, responded with support for the provision of a wider range of training programs geared to the needs of different groups. Special groups were identified as young people, older people, women, migrants, Aboriginal people and the rural sector. The principles and rationale of the proposed changes to the Unemployed Income Support Scheme gained approval from the majority of submissions.

[5] Citizenship Studies in Schools – submitted dd Jul 1988 – Dear Sir,
We write in response to your comments on the above subject as reported in The Age of 21.6.88. The Humanist Society has recently made a number of submissions on issues related to crime such as domestic and community violence, gun control, child abuse and homicide. In each of those we stressed the value and the necessity of early stage education as a measure to prevent criminal behaviour. Early in 1986 the Education Department presented, for public debate, a framework for Social Education. This, in our view, equates with education for citizenship. I enclose the paper and our response to it. We agree that the rising juvenile crime rate is a very serious problem indeed. We would be grateful for information about programs used in USA, Canada and Britain which you studied during your recent trip abroad. It would be a valuable source of information for our members, many of them teachers and most of them parents. It would also be a valuable source material for a submission. We thank you in anticipation.
Yours sincerely,
Halina Strnad, convener
Colin Duncan, subcommittee chairman

[6] Homicide – submitted 1 July 1988 – Discussion Paper No 13, issued by the Law Reform Commission of Victoria, seeks to amend the law on homicide. Sections of this paper examine aspects of violence and the misuse of guns that our discussion group covered for submissions on “Domestic Violence” (to Dept. of Premier and Cabinet, August 1985), “Community Violence” (to Social Development Committee, Feb 1988) and “Sexual Abuse of Children” (to LRC Vic. May 1988). We submitted our established comments and recommendations and enclosed references to support our views.

[7] Drugs, Crime and Society – submitted 1 Aug 1988 – HSV commented only on the section dealing with the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the present policy of prohibition. As a result of discussion we submitted that this policy is not effective, promotes corruption, crime, ill health (due to drug impurities) and maintains double standards with regard to other drugs of addiction, i.e. alcohol and tobacco. HSV suggested:
(a) that all drug use be decriminalized, marijuana marketed and sold to adults only, special clinics to offer methadone treatment for drug abuse and rehabilitation, and that sterile syringes and needles be supplied;
(b) that an intensive educational campaign against all addictive substances be undertaken in schools and in the wider community;
(c) that all advertising of tobacco and alcohol be prohibited, and
(d) that thorough research into the social and personal causes of addiction be undertaken.

[8] Priorities for Reform in Higher Education – submitted 1 Oct 1988 – HSV agreed with the broad objective of encouraging excellence and an environment that rewards achievement. We urged that the quality of teaching be upgraded by the requirement of pedagogic qualifications and by accreditation procedures. We argued that Reform in Scientific Training must begin at earlier stages of education, that some Science subjects should be included in the Humanities and that courses in personal communication and in Science and Social Responsibility be included into this study. We pointed out that special selection procedures for entry to medical faculties operate overseas (references provided) to ensure vocational suitability of candidates. Such practice would help towards excellence in this important area. Regarding Industry and Funding, we supported the proposed greater involvement of industry in higher education by nominating their requirements for types of expertise and argued that funds should be provided by industry in return. We strongly opposed any government funding of private institutions, particularly religious colleges of tertiary education. We urged that subsidies be available to students who are unable to meet their costs of higher education. We see this expenditure as an investment in the future productivity of that individual for the community.

[9] Violence on Television – submitted 5 March 1989 – The Inquiry into Violence on Television was based on public submissions and commissioned research. HSV submitted the following:
(a) We share the public concern about the rise of violent behaviour.
(b) Findings of the Victorian Parliament’s Social Development Committee, which held in 1987 an inquiry into Community Violence, link the viewing of television violence with aggressive behaviour.
(c) We deplore fictionalised portrayals of gratuitous violence and call for a campaign to deglamorise the Rambo style. We suggest television participate in such education by featuring ‘heroes’ and achievers capable of resolving conflicts and problems without violence.
(d) It is acknowledged that accurate reportage of actual violent events is necessary and even of benefit in warning and informing the public. We support the British ‘watershed’ system which presents such events after the Young Children’s Viewing Time.
(e) We submit that boxing is a violent activity and its televising should be restricted.
(f) New classification of viewing material and guidelines on the depiction of violence proposed by a section of the media have our strong support.

The final report listed 13 recommendations towards a self-regulating code on the treatment of violence on TV. The code is to be uniform throughout the industry, monitored by the Tribunal, periodically evaluated and updated. Special attention and care is urged in regard to: child audience; depiction of suicide; depiction of violence out of context; intrusion into private grief; prohibition of violent acts or scenes in all TV advertisements; and introduction of a nationwide education program to enable parents and schools to assist children to deal with violence on TV.

[10] Reproductive Technology: Records, Information – submitted 20 Apr 1989 – To the enquiry on gamete donation, records and information, HSV submitted our previously stated views on the value and importance of positive personal attributes and qualities above that of genetic origin. We commented on the recommendations for types of registry and their confidentiality; on priorities of rights in conflicts of interest; on right to privacy and anonymity; on regulatory versus legislative approach. Other aspects of the increasingly complex problems (mostly attitudinal) of reproductive technology will be open for public debate later in the year.

The Bioethics Consultative Committee recommended that detailed records of offspring arising from gamete donations should be kept indefinitely in State-linked registers. The social parents can decide whether or not they inform their children of the manner of conception. Persons with a legitimate interest in access to information are listed and the conditions of access are specified.

[11] Review of Embryo Experimentation ‘Post-Syngamy’ – submitted 5 June 1989 – A moratorium imposed on human embryo research resulted in a call for submissions from the public. Within the specified frame of reference, HSV argued that:
(a) we favour the term pre-embryo till day 14 post syngamy. In the UK research can proceed to this sage; our law should be changed accordingly.
(b) it is irrational to confer moral, legal and social status prior to established implantation and signs of sentience.
(c) research should be permitted on the 100 frozen zygotes which are due to be discarded as unsuited for implantation.
(d) pressure exerted on government by minority groups, such as Right-to-Lifers and the Catholic Bishops, should not succeed in jeopardising research which holds such beneficial potential.
(d) it would be irrational and irresponsible to discard the fertilised ova without utilising them ‘to gain valuable knowledge.
(e) the infertile should be regarded as disabled with the right to assistance by all available modern means.

[12] Violence: Directions for Australia – submitted 6 June 1989 – HSV stated its views on domestic violence, the portrayal of violent behaviour, the availability of firearms, the role of drugs and alcohol and on support services for victims of violence. Among a number of proposals, HSV suggested the formation of a special police squad to deal with domestic violence and argued the merits of such a task force. There is a growing body of evidence for the association between the frequent portrayal of gratuitous acts of violence on film and TV and subsequent aggressive behaviour particularly among the young. We supplied copies of a number of articles and research reports to support our argument to deglamorise the Rambo style and to restrict the availability of offensive weapons. Violent crime associated with the trafficking of illicit drugs, e.g., armed hold-ups and muggings, would be reduced were the use of drugs decriminalised. We suggested a listing of victims rights that should be established in law.

The final report is a major sociological document reminiscent of that from the Royal Commission on Human Relationships in 1977. Its depth, breadth and scholarship are impressive. It researches the patterns, trends and types of violence, and the risks based on demographic, geographic and socio-economic factors, age, gender and Aboriginality. It identifies vulnerable groups, sites (e.g., streets, public transport, prisons, gangs, schools), and violence in sport and in civil disorders. It examines biological factors, personality, mental illness, child-rearing practices, media influences, substance abuse and cultural factors. There are some recommendations to public sector and some non-government agencies on actions towards prevention and control of violence. Amongst them are stricter gun laws and a minority recommendation for endorsement of the World Medical Association’s recommendation that boxing be banned.

[13] Equal Opportunity Act Review – submitted 26 June 1989 – HSV is largely in agreement with the changes to the Act proposed in the Review Paper [Paper No. 17]. However, we stressed the need for several important exemptions. These include:
(a) Retirement should be encouraged at age 60-65 years but not be mandatory given the wide variation in individual productivity.
(b) Age-based awards should operate if only as an incentive to youth.
(c) We believe that immoral behaviour is defined by its forseeable detrimental consequences. Sexual acts between consenting adults do not meet this criterion.

Recent statistics show that needle sharing drug users and bisexual males acquire the HIV at a rate exceeding that of the homosexuals. Female homosexuals are the lowest HIV-risk group of all. As regards the workplace, special precautions are required only by health workers in direct contact with AIDS sufferers. We expressed our regret that notions of morality, gender status and beliefs based on ancient dogmas find protection in the law of this modern, secular society.

[14] Green Spot Scheme (Interim Report) – submitted 12 September 1989 – The Advisory Panel released its interim report for public information and consultations. HSV suggested that:
(a) industry should not dominate the evaluating panel,
(b) writing pens, disposable vs renewable, should be added to the list of products
(c) Green Spot would need to specify whether it refers to the product or to its container
(d) larger or double Green Spot for products made from recycled, as distinguished from recyclable material
(e) radical improvements in recycling methods are required, such as collection at the door (rather than delivery to depots by each householder), deposits on containers, etc.
(f) education of both adults and school children about this scheme is crucial to its success and to the development of caring and responsibility for the environment.