HSV motions for consideration at the CAHS annual general meeting to be held in Brisbane on 27 May 2016
(CAHS = Council of Australian Humanist Societies)
(as approved by members meeting on 14 Feb)
HSV 1. That CAHS promote general religious education including Humanism in schools throughout Australia, on the Victorian model.
Rationale. In a trail-blazing move Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority is developing a curriculum to cover the basics of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Secular Humanism & Rationalism for students from kindergarten to year 10. See ‘Learning about world views and religions’ (VCAA, 2015). The aim is to teach about the prevalent world-views impartially and without prescription, which is not an impossible task, according to the Toledo Principles adopted by Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe. Australian Humanists have long urged the teaching of comparative religions in school, whether to expose the absurdities or just to undercut the prejudices that fuel sectarian conflict. Reference, a Victorian example from 1973.
HSV 2. That CAHS coordinate the production of a brief introduction to Humanism for Australian schools.
Rationale. From 2017 Victorian schools will be required to teach about ‘secular humanism and rationalism’. Some member societies may already have produced booklets which could be combined into one, edited and designed professionally and issued to schools nationally. A colourful and lively model is the book commissioned by British Humanist Association, What is Humanism? How do you live without a god? And Other Big Questions for Kids, by Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young (48 pages, hardback, Wayland, 2015), which is intended for all schools in the country. The emphasis on English celebrities is a drawback, from the Australian point of view.
HSV 3. That CAHS inform IHEU’s annual Freedom of Thought Report of the effect of religious privilege and appeal to canon law in covering up child abuse in Australia.
Rationale. Although that publication may not be concerned about child abuse per se, the history and findings of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious & Other Organizations (2013) and the federal Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (ongoing) present ample evidence of religious privilege being responsible for much serious abuse going unreported until too late. It was a climate that suppressed criticism of religious institutions and so comes within the scope of the Freedom of Thought Report.
HSV 4. That CAHS urge all States and Territories to legislate for physician-assisted dying.
Rationale. This reform is a long-established goal of Australian Humanists but the time for it is now, particularly with the discrediting of churches as repositories of wisdom.
HSV 5. That CAHS protest against inhumane detention of asylum seekers.
Rationale. Recent action by professional health workers, refusing to co-operate with Border Protection Force in discharging a child to indefinite detention, demands solidarity from human-rights campaigners. Humanists should not be left behind. The government’s outsourcing of immigration detention precludes democratic accountability, and its denigration of Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs is unconscionable and authoritarian.
Stephen Stuart, secretary