Human Rights Advocacy Australia joins the RSA in tackling the insidious nature of religious zealotry in Australia's public schools ...
28 September 2014
Dear Dr Doig,
Special Religious Education in NSW public schools
Human Rights Advocacy Australia (HRAA) is writing in support of your letter to the Hon. Martin Dixon, Minister for Education, Victorian Parliament, dated 1 September 2014, regarding amendments to MD 141.
HRAA submitted a major document to the Australian Curriculum Review with the final recommendation:
That the curriculum of Australian schools provide an objective, balanced and neutral study of religion and philosophy (including ethics) and replace all general religious education and denominational religious education with a course in Philosophy and Religious Culture mandatory for all students, including those attending schools receiving funding from the Australian Federal, State or Territory Governments or any of their departments, in which the engagement of children and teenagers with philosophy (including ethics) would primarily be through a dialogic teaching method and world religions, including Christianity, would be studied from a sociological perspective and be subject to critical inquiry as outlined in the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum, in order to affirm the right of all children to freedom of religion, belief and conscience in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities.
HRAA is currently investigating the implementation of Special Religious Education (SRE) in high schools in the Hunter region of NSW. Its findings so far include alleged breaches of the Religious Education Implementation Procedures developed by Department of Education and Communities (DEC), breaches of the NSW Education Act 1990 and various violations of the fundamental human rights of both children and parents. HRAA’s concerns are being outlined in correspondence to the principal of each school. The failure of some principals to respond to these letters have resulted in letters to the Secretary of the DEC and the Minister for Education.
HRAA has the support of the 2013 Gold Walkley award winning journalist Joanne McCarthy. Recent articles include:
- Students miss out as Christian group GenR8 Ministries moves in
- Call for review on scripture lessons
- Greens MP John Kaye says school scripture figures are an "utter fiasco"
- Jesus's government-backed guarantee
- Scripture data fudged: Greens fear "forced indoctrination"
HRAA is also very concerned at the activities of Scripture Union NSW in NSW public schools in times outside of those allocated for SRE, for example, lunchtime prayer groups. I am currently awaiting information from the DEC regarding the policies and procedures which guide the behaviour of Scripture Union NSW’s volunteers when on public school grounds.
In conclusion, HRAA would like to offer its support to the Rationalist Society of Australia in its efforts to develop a rational and principled approach to the issue of evangelism in Australian public schools.
Dr Darrin Morgan, President
Ms Stephanie Rodger, Secretary
Human Rights Advocacy Australia (HRAA)