Humanist Projects Overview

Photo of six project members overlaying handsThe Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) both initiates projects that will benefit society and collaborates with other like-minded organizations from time to time to pursue common goals. Some projects advocate for the rights of the disenfranchised while others aim to improve human welfare where people are suffering needlessly.

A key pursuit is stemming the overreach of religious organizations into the secular realm. Such overreach is especially evident in the areas of religious education and pastoral care. HSV has worked hard to develop education materials and methods that encourage students to question dogmas. At the same time, HSV advocates that in a pluralist, democratic society, all voices deserve a hearing in the public forum. HSV has been involved with a variety of projects since its inception in 1964.

Current Projects

Ex-Religious Support Network

In 2018, the Humanist Society of Victoria sponsored the set up and ongoing operation of a mutual support group for people who have left or are leaving their religion. The purpose of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN) is to provide an avenue for these people to develop friendships and tap into resources that will help them on their journey through a life without religion.

Secular Spiritual Care Network

Since 2017, the Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) has been working to provide secular spiritual support to people in need. Progressing beyond the initial placement of humanist pastoral carers in hospitals, HSV is now designing and implementing a system for vetting, accrediting and placing secular pastoral carers.

School Chaplaincy

Since 2006, the Humanist Society of Victoria has been advocating for the removal of religious privilege in the Federal Government’s National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). Recent legal challenges forced changes to the program, but the battle continues.

Pathways for Diversity Education

In 2014, the Humanist Society of Victoria and kindred freethought societies joined in a new educational venture with faith groups in Melbourne. The program organizes a panel of speakers that present to year-ten students on their various worldviews, including Abrahamic and Asian faiths, and Humanist, Rationalist and Atheist philosophies.

World Views and Religions Education

In 2015, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) introduced two new capabilities into the Victorian curriculum. Integrated into this new curriculum is teaching students about world views and religions in a more impartial and non-doctrinal way. HSV formed an Education sub-committee tasked with aiding VCAA in developing the required materials for teaching about Humanism.

Completed Projects

Community of Ethical Inquiry for Primary Schools

With the introduction in Victoria in 2015 of ethics and critical and creative thinking into the school curriculum, the Humanist Society of Victoria developed a pilot program for teaching ethics in schools.

  1. Project Background
  2. Philosophy and Methodology
  3. Training Community of Ethical Inquiry Volunteer
  4. Project Pilot and Evaluation

Practical Ethics for Primary Schools

In response to the law governing Religious Instruction, Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) member, Dr Harry Gardner, devised an ethics curriculum that could be delivered by parents or other volunteers. The course was designed particularly for delivery to children opted out of Special Religious Instruction.

Religious Instruction in Schools

The Victorian Education Act permits volunteers to enter Victorian schools to give instruction in religion. Many school Principals, parents and students have expressed dissatisfaction with this arrangement that is open to abuse. The Humanist Society of Victoria has been campaigning for reform in religious instruction in Victoria since 1973.

  1. Project Overview
  2. Special Religious Instruction Campaign Chronology
  3. Parent Responses to Religious Instruction
  4. Religious Instruction in State Schools Promotes Prejudice
  5. Religious Instruction by Australian State
  6. Victorian Education Act – 1950 Amendment

Government Committee on Religious Education

Since the late 1950s, the Education Department in Victoria allowed chaplains appointed by the Council for Christian Education in Schools (CCES) to conduct classes within the normal school timetable. In 1972, the Victorian Minister for Education set up a Committee to examine religious education in Government schools. The Humanist Society of Victoria made representations to the Committee at various phases of its deliberations, campaigning against undue religious influence.

  1. Government Committee on Religious Education
  2. HSV Submission to Committee on Religious Education
  3. Report of Committee on Religious Education
  4. HSV Objection to Report on Religious Education

Adopt a Dalit Village

Dalits, or Untouchables, live in dangerous and impoverished conditions in southern India. This project was an International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) intervention that improved the lives of some 1,000 Dalits living in a cluster of villages and to which the Humanist Society of Victoria contributed.

Charity in Liberia

This charity helped a group of Liberian refugees who fled the civil war in Liberia to take up camp in Buduburam, Ghana. Humanist contributions aided in setting up and administering an elementary school and various adult training programs.