MP Meetings

There is currently no legislation in Australia that clearly defines what religious freedom is, or how it is to be protected.

Australia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which defines religious freedom as a fundamental human right and requires nations to protect it. Unlike many other human rights, Australia has not legislated to protect religious freedom. While most states except NSW and SA have laws against religious discrimination, religious freedoms are only defined at the Federal level as a patchwork of exemptions in other anti-discrimination legislation. There are no positive statements about what religious freedom is, or how it is to be protected. As other forms of anti-discrimination legislation expand, there is a real risk that religious freedoms will be eroded.

People of all faiths need robust laws protecting religious freedom.

Threats to Religious Freedom

The lack of legislation is not simply theoretical. There are a number of recent and current issues that demonstrate that religious freedom is at risk:

  • The proposal from the Australian Law Reform Commission to strip religious schools of the right to select staff who believe and live out the faith of the school.
  • The example of Victoria, which has restricted the rights of all religious organisations, including churches and places of worship, to employ staff who hold to their faith.
  • The proposed Human Rights Act put forward by the Australian Human Rights Commission that subordinates religious freedom under other human rights rather than holding them as equal.
  • The continued lack of a Religious Discrimination Bill means that people of faith can be discriminated against because of their religion. For example, the recent case of Andrew Thorburn’s forced resignation over his church’s religious teachings would not be illegal under Federal, NSW or SA law.

(click on the links to read more on each issue)

These specific examples, among many others, point to a need for clear, robust legislation defining and protecting religious freedom.

Our Requests

We are asking the Federal Labor Government to:

(You can download a printable handout of our requests on the resources page)

Meet with your MP

One of the most important ways that we can impact our political system is by talking to our local Member of Parliament (MP).

MPs are very busy, but they want to hear the concerns of the people in their electorate so that they can represent their electorate faithfully, and can win votes come election time. MPs are also human like the rest of us – they are influenced by hearing stories and concerns from people around them. If they do not hear from us, then they will not be able to respond to our concerns.

This resource has been developed to help you to make a meeting with your local MP, either as an individual or a church.

Guide to Meeting your MP

This resource is helping you with meetings with Federal Parliament MPs.
The issues on religious freedom outlined in the talking points are in regards to Federal legislation.
If you want to meet with MPs for your State or Territory, the principles are the same, but be aware what legislaton is relevent to them, and what is Federal.

Step 1: Understand the purpose

The overall purpose of this meeting is to build a positive connection with your local Federal MP, and to make them aware of the issues facing religious freedom in Australia and that a large number of members of their electorate are concerned about them.

This is not a lobbying meeting. You do not have to have all the facts or answers. Freedom for Faith is working with other advocacy organisations in order that every MP will have a meeting with an advocate who is experienced with the issues and can answer their questions. The purpose of your meeting is to show your MP that people in their electorate care about the issue, are concerned, and are likely to have their vote affected by it.

While the purpose to raise the wider issue of religious freedom, it is often more effective to anchor it in a specific issue or request that an MP can understand and engage with. The current issue that is most prominent is the undermining of the ability for faith-based schools to employ staff who believe and live out the faith of the school. As we have seen in the example of Victoria, this has the potential to expand to also restrict all faith organisations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, etc.

Step 2: Talk to Freedom for Faith

Freedom for Faith exists to help you engage effectively on issues of religious freedom. We are trying to make sure that every Federal MP has one of these meetings, so we would love to know which MPs are being contacted to see if anyone is left out. We may also be able to tell you of other groups planning to meet your MP, or who are interested.

Please get in touch when you are planning to meet your MP. We are here to answer any questions or help you in any way.

You can contact us at

For updates on religious freedom, you can sign up to our newlstter on the form at the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Know your MP

You can look up your local MP in the Federal parliament by electorate or postcode at the Australian Parliament Website.

Click through to your MP’s page, and their contact details should be on the “Office details” or “Connect” tab (just below the MP’s photo).

Note if your MP is a Minister or Shadow Minister. If so, they are likely to be much more busy and harder to get an appointment with. It is still important to try but be aware that you might need to be flexible and persistent.

If you want to know more about your MP, you should be able to find a link to their “first speech”. This speech often reveals an MP’s personal passions and reasons for getting into politics.

Step 4: Identify potential attendees

The next step is to identify potential attendees to invite to the meeting with your local MP. A good size for the meeting would be 3-6 people plus the MP.

People who could be invited to the meeting include:

  • The ministers or leaders of local churches, mosques, synagogues, etc.
  • Parents who live in the local electorate and send their kids to a faith-based school.
  • Teachers and/or staff of a faith-based school who live in the electorate.

A local faith leader, like a church minister, is a representative of their community. A minister is able to speak about the size of their church, and the level of importance of this issue amongst the community. An MP should take a meeting with a faith leader or group of leaders seriously. However, there can be skepticism as to whether a minister truly represents their community's views, so a meeting is even more effective if other members are included.

If your meeting will focus on schools, parents are a very important addition. MPs are strongly influenced by relatable stories from their constituents and are receptive to the experiences of everyday people sharing their personal accounts. Parents should be connected to the electorate, and preferably live in it. Note that if the meeting is about schools, the school does not need to be in the electorate, nor do the attendees all need to be connected to the same school. The meeting is about the people of the electorate and their concern for faith-based education, not the school itself.

Staff of faith-based schools offer a different, and valuable perspective. They are able to speak about the role of faith in their teaching or other duties at the school and can be very effective at communicating the importance of faith underpinning the culture and learning community of the school.

Attendees would need to be able to attend a meeting during daytime hours. This might limit your options to at-home parents, part time workers, or those who work locally or from home. Mothers are great spokespeople for their families, and primary carers speaking passionately about their children’s experiences is powerful. If you’re inviting school staff, be mindful that they will probably not be free until late afternoon. It is worth you or them discussing with the school if they could get some time off during the day for the meeting, given the importance and urgency of the issue.

Discuss the possibility of the meeting with your possible attendees. You may wish to share resources like the flyer and talking points to brief those you’d like to invite to the meeting.

Find out their availabilities before contacting your MP to schedule a time that accommodates people’s schedules.

Step 5: Make your appointment

Be aware of timing: Federal MPs must travel to Canberra for sitting weeks, so they will not be available for a meeting in those weeks. You can find parliamentary sitting dates here.

Contacting your MP: If you have not met with your MP previously or do not have an existing relationship with them, then you may wish to send a more formal email asking for a meeting. You can find suggested template letters in our resources section.

Follow up the email three days later with a phone call if you have not received a response from your MP.

Step 6: Prepare your resources

You can find hand-outs to give to the MP in our resources section. Most handouts are 2 pages, and look better when printed double sided and in colour.

Read the resources so you know what you are handing over and can say something about them.

The purpose of these meetings is not to have all the detals of legislative issues, but to express your personal, local, concern for religious freedom. However, it might help to familiarise yourself with the main issues. You may wish to read these short summaries:

Step 7: Plan who is speaking

When your meeting has a number of people attending, it is easy for one person to do all the talking, or for things to be missed because one person thinks another is going to do it. It can help to take a few minutes before the meeting to identify what things need to happen in the meeting and allocate one person to ensuring they happen.

Suggested roles include:

  • Making the introductions
  • Outlining the concerns
  • Giving the MP printed resources
  • Telling personal stories
  • Asking the MP for a commitment
  • Suggesting and taking a photo
  • Closing and thanking the MP
  • Taking notes

Step 8: At the meeting

It is likely that you will only have a short amount of time to discuss your issue, so it is important to be clear and concise. As a rule, 30 minutes is a common appointment length, but this should always be clarified so that best use is made of whatever available time you have. If you have a 30 minute slot, aim to finish with five minutes to space pointing out that you want to give them a chance to have a break before their next meeting – they will appreciate it.

Remember to speak clearly, politely, and audibly and maintain good eye contact. They too are a child of God and worthy of respect and honour despite any differences of opinion you may have with them. Keep to the talking points and the issue that is the purpose of the meeting. MPs have limited time, and we can respect them by keeping to the point. Introducing other issues can confuse the conversation and leave the MP unclear as to what we are talking about.

Introduce yourselves

Start by introducing yourself and thanking your MP for taking the time to meet with you. Make sure they know who everyone is and understand who you represent. Explain what organisations you are from, where they are, and how many people are members. Also tell them what schools you are connected to, where they are, and approximately how many students attend.

Points to discuss in the meeting

On religious freedom:

  • Religious freedom is a human right listed under international treaties (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)
  • Religious freedom is about how to live-and-let-live in a pluralistic society, where people do not agree on fundamental issues
  • There are laws covering most human rights, but none protecting religious freedom
  • As other rights are protected by growing legislation, we are worried that religious freedom is getting undermined
  • Religious discrimination is increasing - especially for Muslims and Jews

On faith schools:

  • For parents, explain why you choose to send your children to a faith-based school and how the character or beliefs of the school informed your decision.
  • For teachers and staff, explain how your faith works out in your care of the students, and your role in guiding and mentoring students beyond simply downloading information.
  • Describe your school’s loving and welcoming community and pastoral care for all students, regardless of faith, background or identity.
  • Talk about teachers and other school staff as role models of your faith at the school of your choice and why having such role models is important to you.
  • Explain how your faith is all-encompassing and that you want your children to have a faith-centered understanding of all areas of life.
  • Express your concern about your school’s ability to educate your children in accordance with your religious and moral convictions if the ALRC’s recommendations became law, as this means your school could no longer authentically teach and maintain its faith community.

Give the MP your printed hand-outs

All our resources can be found in the resources section.

  • (For a Labor MP) Point out the highlighted commitments in the statements from Prime Minister Albanese and Attorney General Dreyfus
  • Show the polling summary that demonstrates that the majority of Australians support religious schools employing religious teachers (even the majority of Greens voters).
    Point out some of the most significant numbers for your MP's party.
  • Show the summary of the Faith Leaders' letter to the Government and highlight the number and breadth of the religious leaders represented.


Listen to how your MP responds to what you are saying and tailor your message accordingly. Your MP might be completely new to this issue, so ask if they have any questions and help them understand the value of your faith-based school as a community of faith.

In addition to how much they understand about the issue, you also need to know what you MP thinks about it. This will help you to respond to any questions or misconceptions they may have.  Government MPs will have been given a series of ‘talking points’ or answers to common questions. If you get a response to a question you raise, take a moment to think if they actually answered the question you asked. If not, maybe ask it again, politely.

Ask for a commitment

Don't be afraid to ask for a commitment, and don't try to be indirect. Politicians are used to being asked what they think and what they are going to do, and they will appreciate clear concise requests.

(You can download a printable handout of our requests in the resources section)

For Labor MPs:

Ask for the Government to protect religious freedom and:

Ask your MP to speak to their colleagues, to the Attorney General and the Prime Minister.

For Coalition MPs:

Ask that the Coalition will negotiate with Labor to allow good legislation to pass, and not force Labor to negotiate with other MPs who might be more hostile.

Ask your MP to speak to their colleagues, the Shadow Attorney General and the Leader of the Opposition.

Optional: Take a photo

If the MP does give support for faith-based schools, one option is to take a photo with your group and the MP, and/or a photo of the MP holding up a sign stating their support (you can download a sign from the resources section). This photo can be shared on social media with some text thanking the MP for the meeting and their support for freedom of religion or faith-based schools (if they gave any).

Some people might feel uncomfortable sharing a photo of a politician, because it might be considered acting in a partisan way. However, the purpose of the sharing is not about promoting a politician, but documenting the commitment that they made so that they can be held to it, and thanking them for their support for faith-based schools. Publicly thanking people is a great way of encouraging them, and politicians are no different.

Commit to communicating to your community

The MP is meeting with you as a representative of a larger community of faith and schools. It is important that you make the communication channel 2-way, and commit to telling your community what the outcomes of the meeting were. This way the MP will know that they have an opportunity to speak (through you) with a large part of their electorate.

Other things to consider:

  • Avoid raising any other issues – respect the MP’s time and focus on the issues of religious freedom.
  • If the issue of LGBT discrimination is raised, make it clear that schools and faith organisations are not seeking to “discriminate” but rather preserve their right to build their community of faith and to teach and operate in accordance with their religious beliefs and ethos. It is unreasonable for faith-based schools and organisations to be required to hire staff who don’t share their faith, or be barred from having rules of conduct that fully reflects their religious beliefs and ethos.
  • Be aware that currently the ALRC report is due to the Government on 31 December 2023. MPs are likely to only say they cannot give any firm commitments until they see the ALRC report. This should not dissuade you from seeking a meeting with your MP, as the impetus for such a meeting is to communicate your concern with the existing ALRC proposals, and to familiarise the MP with the school community.

Step 9: Follow up

Follow up with a letter to the MP's office.

An email is ok, but the way that correspondence is handled by MPs offices means that a more formal letter will generally be treated more seriously. We suggest:

  • A written letter (on letterhead, if coming from a church or organisation)
  • Emailed as a PDF attachment, with the hand-outs also attached
  • Also printed and posted with the hand-outs printed and included.

when writing the letter

  • Thank the MP for the meeting
  • Remind them of the organisations represented in the meeting, and the number of members and students.
  • Reiterate the requests made in the meeting
  • Thank them for any commitments they made

Update your community

If you have committed to communicating back to your commuity or school about the outcomes of the meeting, it is important to do so. If the MP has made some commitments, it is important to thank them for those commitments, and allow your community to know of them. It can also help to let the MP know that you have communicated back. For instance, if you use a newsletter to give an update on the conversation, you could send a copy to the MP's office. If you took a photo, post it on social media and tag the MP so they can see it too.

Resources and Templates

Letter Templates

Template letter to MP asking for meeting.

Alternate version if your meeting is focused mostly on Christian schools

To give to your MP

An outline of our requests:

2-page summary of polling on public support for faith-based Schools

Summary of Letter from Faith Leaders to the PM

Posters - for a photograph with the MP (see Meeting Guide for more info)

For Labor MPs:

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's statement (key commitment is highlighted on page 2)

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus's Statement (key commitment is highlighted on page 2)