News Archive 2013

Volunteers for ethics in schools

24 Sep 2013 – The Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) is planning to coordinate a demonstration course of ‘the community of ethical inquiry’ for a few State primary schools, if they wish to consider an extra-curricular enrichment program. The method of community of inquiry is favoured because it is well suited to the kind of ethics lessons where process is more important than content. We are not proposing to introduce secular ethics as some variety of special religious instruction (SRI) under the Education Act (sec. 2.2.11). In fact the Society has always been opposed to the provision of SRI in government schools. Read Full News Item …

Proposal for ethics in primary schools

3 Sep 2013 – The Humanist Society, being committed to secular public education, is aware of considerable dissatisfaction with the system of special religious instruction (SRI) in Victorian government primary schools, both for reasons of principle and because it is divisive and not educational for classmates to be separated summarily. Public awareness of the anti-educational aspect of SRI has been growing since the Society’s attempt to offer an ethical alternative to SRI in 2008 was notoriously rejected by the government in 2009. Read Full News Item …

VCAT judgment on special religious instruction discrimination

22 Feb 2013 – Today the Victorian Supreme Court Court of Appeals has dismissed our request for an appeal against discrimination being caused by special religious instruction in Victorian Government schools.

The judges comment that:

(a) the public interest element in the case has largely been resolved by changes in departmental policy which have resulted in SRI now being provided on an opt-in basis, [and]

(b) there is no longer any prohibition on offering an ethics course to children who do not participate in SRI.

For more information:

History of the SRI case, 1973 to 2012
Reforming religious education in State primary schools

Report by Harry Gardner and John Russell

Church exemptions are anti-democratic

17 Jan 2013 – The Australian government is bowing to the Christian lobby by giving the churches special exemptions from the law. This is evident in new legislation which has not been tested, notably the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the Human Rights and Anti-discrimination Bill 2012, which is scheduled to come before the Senate on 18 February 2013.

Citizens should be wary of any move entrenching privilege for vested interests, as it is clearly anti-democratic. The nation’s problems cry out to be managed with more democracy, not less. The Humanist Society of Victoria joins with the Rationalist Society of Australia and other freethinking groups in announcing today a Manifesto for a secular Australia, which advances ten points of secularism.

Report by Stephen Stuart