Education Minister James Merlino has issued a Ministerial Direction (MD 145) to implement the Victorian Government’s policy of removing Special Religious Instruction from classtime.
The new Direction gives school principals full authority to decide whether or not to offer SRI at their (primary) schools (tick). In doing so they must take into account the views of the school community, and must not have regard to their own personal views about religion (tick).
SRI can only be held in the hour before or after school or during lunchtimes, and must be supervised by a teacher (tick).
SRI instructors must be accredited and approved, and may only deliver approved material – which must be available for parents to access online (tick).
Instructors must not ‘attempt to convert students to a particular religion or invite students to attend activities outside of SRI’ or offer any inducements to attend SRI (tick, tick). A supervising teacher or any parent who has concerns about the content or delivery of SRI can report this to the principal, who must then report it to the Education Dept (tick, tick,tick).
All in all, this is a great move forwards. The RSA has been lobbying for years to return public schooling to its secular, free and compulsory roots, and this policy is just about as good as it gets. The next step is to remove SRI from the Act itself …