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Youth and Education
  14. Special Religious Education
  15. Religious freedom for students
  16. Safe Schools Coalition
   


Youth and Education

14. Special Religious Education

Special Religious Instruction provides a more comprehensive education, giving students an opportunity to explore the tenants of Christianity and other faiths. The provision of SRI makes public education more attractive for families of faith. Does your party support the on-going provision of Special Religious Instruction for students in Victorian public schools?

Liberal Party of Victoria [View responses to all questions from the Liberal Party of Victoria]
  • Coalition has reaffirmed its ongoing support for SRI in schools and for freedom of religion, association and expression.
  • Coalition will provide funding to providers of SRI over the next 5 years to support their work in delivering SRI, including for curriculum development and training.
  • A re-elected Coalition will continue to work closely with ACL, SRI providers and other stakeholders.

SRI is an important option for parents in government schools. Parents want this option for their children and the Coalition Government has reaffirmed its steadfast commitment to it, in the fact of a strong campaign from the Australian Education Union and other organisations to have SRI removed from schools.

We will stand with parents who want to choose for their children to receive special religious instruction in government schools, consistent with the legislation passed in 2006. In light of the importance the Coalition attaches to SRI, providers will receive funding to support SRI provision in schools, such as curriculum development and training, over the next 5 years if the Coalition is re-elected.



Australian Christians
Australian Christians [View responses to all questions from the Australian Christians]
  • Several of our supporters are accredited instructors of Christian SRI
  • AC wholeheartedly supports & encourages this vital part of a primary pupil’s education, & wishes its increase
  • Parents retain the option of permitting their children to engage in SRI or not 


Family First
Family First [View responses to all questions from the Family First]
  • Family First supports the on-going provision of SRI within Victorian Public Schools.


Australian Labor Party of Victoria [View responses to all questions from the Australian Labor Party of Victoria]

The Labor Party has long supported the notion that one of the greatest strengths of the Victorian community is its diversity.

As a way of understanding the different perspectives that exist within our multicultural society, government schools have the ability to teach their students about the varied beliefs and cultural understandings of our society.

When Labor introduced the new Education and Training Reform Act in 2006, we again committed to the principal of secular education.

While the Act makes it clear that government school education must be secular, it provides schools with the option to offer ‘special religious instruction’ (SRI) in the school through ‘instruction provided by churches and other religious groups and based on distinctive religious tenets and beliefs’.

This instruction is not compulsory and parents may request that their child does not attend such classes.

It is very important that informed parental consent is obtained for student participation in SRI, and Labor supports that information being provided to parents.

Labor in government would be vigilant in overseeing that all SRI delivered in schools complies with the Act and relevant policies, including that instructors do not induce or attempt to induce the conversion of students to a particular religion, or encourage any student to attend religious events held outside of school.



Rise Up Australia Party
Rise Up Australia Party [View responses to all questions from the Rise Up Australia Party]
  • Yes. However, the course as framed at present is insufficient. In our experience, school pupils are particularly fascinated by the philosophy of religion and by the interface between religion and science, which – properly understood – are two sides of the same coin: the search for truth.  We shall be taking a thorough look at the curriculum and will develop a more comprehensive and interesting course than those now in contemplation or use.

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15. Religious freedom for students

This year the Victorian government has specified that children in public schools can meet for lunchtime prayer and bible study, and invite speakers to their groups, just like any other school group or society. Does your Party share this commitment to religious freedom and freedom of association?

Liberal Party of Victoria [View responses to all questions from the Liberal Party of Victoria]
  • Absolutely. Freedom of religion, association and expression are sacrosanct.
  • Lunchtime student prayer and bible studies can continue as they have done for years and speakers can continue to be invited to speak to student groups.
  • The Coalition insisted that the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s policy guidance be made entirely consisted with the 2006 legislation on SRI and Ministerial Direction.

Religious freedom is sacrosanct for the Coalition. Families should be free to choose the education and values to which they subscribe. We value the choices that families and school communities make and will ensure those choices are safeguarded under a re-elected Coalition Government.

The Coalition has worked hard to ensure the arrangements for next year’s school chaplaincy program are put in place as quickly as possible to ensure as much continuity as possible at the end of the year. Unlike Labor’s ambivalence to the program, the Coalition fully supports it.



Australian Christians
Australian Christians [View responses to all questions from the Australian Christians]
  • AC strongly stands for freedom of religion in all circumstances, including schools
  • Many AC supporters engaged profitably in Christian groups at school in their youth
  • We warmly encourage the continuation of such Christian groups in educational institutions


Family First
Family First [View responses to all questions from the Family First]
  • Family First shares and maintains a commitment to religious freedom and freedom of association.


Australian Labor Party of Victoria [View responses to all questions from the Australian Labor Party of Victoria]

Of course, providing these groups are student led rather than by a teacher or someone from outside the school, as that would then fall under the classification of SRI and then require the appropriate procedures around that to be followed.



Rise Up Australia Party
Rise Up Australia Party [View responses to all questions from the Rise Up Australia Party]
  • Yes. It was the pastor who leads our party who used his influence to head off a recent attempt from within the educational bureaucracy of the State to ban all Christian religious symbols, books and discussions in schools.

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16. Safe Schools Coalition

The Safe Schools Coalition initiative is an attempt to reduce bullying and harassment; a commendable motive. However, it disproportionately emphasises sexuality. Promotional posters showing a boy wearing a dress promotes behaviour which many parents do not want their children exposed to in this context.

Will your Party re-examine the Safe Schools Coalition programme to ensure it addresses bullying by affirming individual dignity rather than promoting values contrary to those held by many parents and students in the community? Also, will you allow Principals to choose whether the Safe Schools Coalition program is run in their school?

Liberal Party of Victoria [View responses to all questions from the Liberal Party of Victoria]
  • All students deserve to feel safe at school
  • Unlike Labor, the Coalition is not making this program compulsory in schools
  • There are many other programs that support wellbeing in schools

All Victorian students deserve a safe, inclusive, supportive school environment, and there is no place for any form of bullying at schools. Unlike Labor, the Coalition is not going to mandate schools running the program. It is one of a number of programs that schools can choose to adopt.

The Coalition has partnered with the Allanah and Madeline Foundation and provided $10.5 million for the eSmart anti-cyberbullying program in schools, has extended the School-Wide Positive Behaviour program to a further 70 schools, returned control of Student Support Services Officers to school networks and delivered on the Coalition’s commitment of a further 150 Primary Welfare Officers (PWOs). A re-elected Coalition government will extend access to PWOs to all primary schools



Australian Christians
Australian Christians [View responses to all questions from the Australian Christians]
  • AC will clearly remove any encouragement or tacit approval of abnormal sexuality from the Safe Schools program
  • Bullying & harassment of students will be opposed & corrected in all cases & for all reasons
  • If while seeking to remedy one problem, another is created or encouraged - AC sees this as quite inappropriate


Family First
Family First [View responses to all questions from the Family First]
  • Family First will commit to re-examining the Safe Schools Coalition programme to ensure it addresses bullying by affirming individual dignity.  This programme should not be a forum for the promotion of values and behaviours that are not shared by the majority of our community.
  • School Principles are the best equipped to decide what measures may be required to tackle bullying in their school environments.  The proposed solution should be appropriate to the identified issue.


Australian Labor Party of Victoria [View responses to all questions from the Australian Labor Party of Victoria]

Labor has committed to expanding the Safe Schools Coalition program to all government secondary schools, and encouraging non-government schools to participate as well. It was founded specifically to ensure that all schools are safe and supportive places for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, teachers and families. We value the aims of the program which is why we made a commitment to expand the program.

This program will be run in all government schools, with the aim of wiping out homophobia and transphobia. Labor will also be encouraging independent schools to participate.



Rise Up Australia Party
Rise Up Australia Party [View responses to all questions from the Rise Up Australia Party]
  • The origin of the misleadingly-named “Safe Schools Coalition” lies in the dominant nihilistic totalitarian faction at the United Nations, which regards Christianity as the greatest enemy of its desire to turn the U.N. into an unelected global governing entity with real powers of taxation and economic as well as environmental and moral legislation and regulation (see the 15 September 2009 draft of the Copenhagen Climate Treaty at Annex 1, Paragraphs 36 and 38). That faction, desiring to promote (or, to use its term of art, to “celebrate”) homosexuality, has chosen to do so under the purely artificial guise of preventing bullying. However, suppose a child is bullied because he or she has been caught stealing. One does not “celebrate” theft. One deals directly with the bullying. We oppose the centralization of power in unelected hands whether in Australia or globally. We oppose the willingness of too many local and State authorities, in this and many other matters (such as Agenda 21) to do the U.N.’s bidding in a fashion that is contrary to the moral and civic values of Australia. In particular, we oppose the Safe Schools programme and will shut it down. Head teachers not competent to prevent bullying in their schools will be either retrained or replaced.

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