Public Forum

REFORMING
RELIGIOUS AND ETHICS EDUCATION
IN STATE PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Sunday 4 November
2 pm – 5 pm

free entry
Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library Entry 3, La Trobe Street, Melbourne

Over past years there have been increasing concerns expressed by parents, educators, community organizations and the general public, about the way in which Christian religious instruction is currently presented and administered in the majority of Victorian Government Primary Schools. These weekly sessions are officially known as SRI (Special Religious Instruction), but are often referred to as CRE, RE or RI.

Parents took the Education Department to court, claiming their children who do not attend these sessions suffer discrimination. Their cause was publicized by the parents’ group, Fairness in Religions in School (FIRIS), which claims that SRI divides children and recommends that the current ‘Sunday School’ lessons be replaced by ‘culturally diverse and unbiased’ classes. The case of ‘AITKEN AND OTHERS VS DEECD’ was heard during 1–9 March 2012, by the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

JUDGE GINNANE finally handed down his judgment in the case on 18 October and found, “THE COMPLAINANTS HAVE NOT ESTABLISHED THAT THE STATE OF VICTORIA HAS ENGAGED IN ANY DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE EIGHT CHILDREN, ON WHOSE BEHALF THESE PROCEEDINGS WERE BROUGHT.”

It is the view of the Humanist Society of Victoria, that the judgment is out of touch with current changes in religious and ethics educational teaching and with the current increasing diversity of Victoria’s multicultural population in regard to their religious and other beliefs.

PUBLIC FORUM CHAIR:
Lyn Allison Former Australian Senator; 2008 Australian Humanist of the Year.

PANEL MEMBERS:
1) Anna Forsyth One of the two barristers who represented the three VCAT parents.
2) Georgia Morrissey (Parent & Solicitor) & Lisel Thomas (Parent & School Council, President). Both are key members of the parent organisation: Fairness in Religions in School (FIRIS).
3) Rev Dr Paul Tonson Uniting Church Minister involved in networking with faith & free-thought groups. Advocates introduction of GRE (General Religious Education); member of JCMA (Jews, Christians & Muslims Australia)
4) Dr Anna Halafoff Research Fellow, Centre for Citizen & Globalisation, Deakin University; Co-coordinator, Religions and Ethics Education Network Australia (REENA).

Organised by the Humanist Society of Victoria in response to the recent VCAT case. The above eminent panel will provide information and canvass future options.

For further information and inquiries contact

John Russell: Telephone: 0478 365 956 or Email: jr38@optusnet.com.au.

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