FIRIS CLAIMS VICTORY!
August 21, 2015

Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino has announced that Special Religious Instruction (SRI) will be removed from school hours in 2016. SRI will be taken out of class-time and treated as an elective.

Instead, children in Victorian public schools will be taught about the major religions which make up our multicultural community, together with secular humanism and ethics – by class teachers as part of the official curriculum.

This is the prize we have been working for since FIRIS formed in 2011. And today the dream is a reality! FIRIS is grateful to the thousands of parent supporters. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!

AIMS OF FIRIS

  • Maintain an inclusive school curriculum that does not require any student to withdraw from class on account of different religious beliefs, or none.
  • Formally cease the practice of volunteer-run Religious Instruction (SRI/SRE) during school hours.
  • Follow an objective, fair and balanced comparative syllabus for education about religions and beliefs.
  • Treat all religious organisations who wish to use the school facilities outside of the school day with transparent and equitable policies.

FIRIS is a parent-driven grassroots effort.  

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The main discussion between supporters is on our Facebook Page. Read the recent discussions and remember to LIKE us!

Fairness In Religions In School

* * * * * SPECIAL REPORT * * * * * THE BREATHTAKING HYPOCRISY OF THE ACL ATTACK ON SAFE SCHOOLS COALITION Yesterday Lyle Shelton from the ACL went on a rampage against the Safe Schools Coalition in the Herald Sun. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/safe-schools-transgender-awareness-program-could-do-more-harm-to-kids-than-good/news-story/93f16a43ddb61881fd613c47fbf542db In the last few days, Lyle and the ACL has gone full swing into attack on the SSC. Which is his democratic right to free speech - but we feel the need to point out his breathtaking hypocrisy. His comment "Of course most of us who are parents will be concerned about material like this" begs the question - why aren't parents also told about the controversial lessons their children will be exposed to in SRE? Parents merely tick a box and nominate their religion on the school enrolment form in order to opt in to SRE. They are typically given no further information and certainly NEVER get access to the full curriculum. Child Psychologists, Beyond Blue and other professionals have condemned these SRE materials. The program is also named Special Religious Education - the emphasis being on "education", which leads a parent to think it is anything other than instruction (this was also a big problem in VIC). His comment about legal liability is a good one, and reminds us that the government is also taking a huge risk with the SRE program. "But more serious questions about Safe Schools go to legal liability. Who is liable if a girl damages her breasts or a boy becomes infertile from tucking his genitals - or worse still, has surgery they later regret? Is it the school principal who allowed the program? The Education Department? Or state and federal governments?" In yesterday's ACL press release - http://www.acl.org.au/2016/02/kids-pulled-from-school-as-all-of-us-released-in-australian-schools-by-lgbti-activists/ he says - "What right do schools have to force this ideology upon 11 and 14 year old children? Why are parents not being consulted?" However, as we know, the churches are promoting and delivering their opposite "ideology" in the schools with lessons detrimental to LGBTI students and women, etc. And parents are absolutely NOT consulted or made aware of this! The ACL also makes much of the fact that SSC links to a secondary site called "Minus 18" and claims that this site contains controversial content and advice for students. However, the SRE student manuals and materials promote and contain links to a Sydney Anglican website called "Fervr", which contains the opposite controversial content and advice for students. http://fervr.net/teen-life/dating-sex/ Students are encouraged to visit this site for further information and answers. (see example below) This website contains information on abortion, abstinence only sex advice, sexuality, and promotes the book "Teen Sex by the Book". (see example below) http://fervr.net/teen-sex-by-the-book This book received a lot of media attention last year for its damaging messages - * Homosexuality is a sin, a choice and is "misplaced" sexual desire. * Transexual babies are the result of our fallen world. * Victim blaming and girls being told to cover up, so as not to encourage men towards sexual assault. * Homosexuality being compared to pedophilia. * Promotion of ex-gay therapy. http://www.news.com.au/national/parent-lobby-group-alleges-religious-education-material-taught-in-nsw-schools-includes-slut-shaming/news-story/64473979aeb51726952b3604735aeee7 This book is produced and published by the CEP - an arm of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney who deliver SRE in NSW schools and is still being used in private schools around Australia. We understand the SSC don't like to retaliate, for fear of adding fuel to the fire, but we feel the dishonest attacks will be sustained and we are determined to bring public attention to this blatant hypocrisy. ... See MoreSee Less

24 hours ago

Kay ClarkeGood on you FIRIS23 hours ago

Jeanette PritchardThank goodness there are people like yourselves on the case.23 hours ago

Lorna WalkerEvery time I see "ACL" in an article I prepare myself for something both stupid and damaging *sigh*23 hours ago

Jess McKennaOh no, a whole $8 million! And only, what, $250 million on the useless chaplain program? And how much class time wasted on SRI? (thankfully no longer in Victoria, thank you Andrews government). The hypocrisy is staggering. The author actually accuses the anti bullying campaign of proselytising, I actually laughed. Is there some defect in certain people which makes them incapable of seeing what hypocrites they are? (Not to mention that most of her complaints about the program are outright lies). Really, what would the next generation become if these people had their way?23 hours ago

Kate de Bruinhttp://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/principal-gets-praise-after-standing-up-for-trans-kids?bffb&utm_term=.qqALJO5lo#.quBY9QxEV23 hours ago

Mindy JohnsonThere is no right to free speech in Australia. It is generally accepted but not constitutionally guaranteed. Plus it doesn't mean anyone can tell lies and not face consequences.23 hours ago

Andrew SmithA resurrection, told 3 different ways, three different amounts of witnesses, different durations, different events, different series of events, told about a man who didn't exist outside of the bible, told 50-150 years after the supposed event, but I'm a heathen for questioning them or using the word "equality" I am so glad to be living in a time where religion has met its match The age of " Google " This is why they push for our school children, get them while they're young, Stop public funding to private schools (all denominations) Stop tax exemption for all faiths Being paid to tell lies and misinformation has to stop Religion had its chance, that's why it was called the dark ages There is light at the end of the tunnel, religion is the darkness holding humanity in the tunnel.22 hours ago

Meredith DonkinA local Catholic School is helping a 10yr old transition from boy to girl. The diocese held a parent meeting at the end of the year with a child psychologist to inform them that it was happening & how important it is to respect the child's decision. Some complained but the parish priest maintained that it was the best way forward. So there is progress:)21 hours ago

Phillipa ToiaOnce again, good on you guys for paying attention and bringing awareness to the public, without groups like yours we would b left in the dark.19 hours ago

Stephen PearceIf the ACL had there way we would all be making love through a hole in a bed sheet... seriously!17 hours ago

Mark KirikudReality is not all kids are binary gendered, a fact phobic adults like Lyle need to realise as non binary kids still have a right to exist & go to school without the fear of bullying & harrassment... If Lyle doesn't want his kids being exposed to the real world then maybe he should home school his kids & never let them leave the front door in case they meet a real person born gender non-conforming13 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In School

After conducting a parental survey, Caulfield South PS will be offering Jewish SRI classes before school. It appears that there was not enough interest in the ACCESS program to go ahead. This is an area of Melbourne that is home to a large community of Jewish families. However, as in the case of Auburn Sth PS, we are concerned that UJEB are circumventing the correct DET consent process. It appears that parents may not be filling out the required CFMD145 consent form. We will bring this to the DET's attention. * Background - after this school previously dumped SRI in 2014, UJEB's director Yossi Goldfarb went to the media and attacked the principal of CSPS, in print and on radio, accusing her of bias. “We cannot help but feel,” says Mr Goldfarb, “that the implementation of the framework is being effected disingenuously and amounts to nothing other than a removal of SRI by stealth.” Since then, the school has been put under a lot of pressure from UJEB to retain SRI at all costs. "SPECIAL RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION - UJEB STARTING WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 17TH Last year parents were surveyed as to their interest in their children participating in Christian or Jewish Studies out of school hours. As a result of the findings, UJEB will be offering classes, on a Wednesday morning in the Library from 8.15am until 8.45am. (Prep students will not attend until the commencement of Term 2). Please note: On the day of UJEB classes parents are to enter through the single gate leading to the basketball court to reach the Library. For safety reasons it is imperative for parents sign their child/ren in for each lesson. UJEB are now organising the out of hour’s program and information regarding a link for bookings will be left outside the office when available." ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Kay Clarkeah ha calling it before school care (out of hours program). Otherwise why mention bookings. Cunning plan UJEB. Good luck with that one.2 days ago

Stephen PearceWhy is it these people cannot be HONEST and have some personal INTEGRITY and follow the rules??? I though Religious people upheld these principles??2 days ago

Fairness In Religions In School

Knox Park PS will also ascertain levels of parental interest, before they decide to conduct a lunchtime SRI class. This school has been a very strong SRI supporter over the years and one of our core FIRIS members has children who attend here. The previous principal told this parent they could go elsewhere if they were not happy with the SRI program. It recorded a participation rate of 20% in 2015. "S.R.I. (Special Religious Instruction) This year sees changes to how the S.R.I. program can be delivered in schools. A new government directive late last year indicated that S.R.I. can no longer be given during instruction time. It can only be offered to students before or after school or during lunchtime. A letter will be going home shortly to explain the changes and will include a reply slip to indicate interest in participation in the program. In consultation with our school’s S.R.I. Coordinator, Kerry, she will be offering one lunchtime session that would involve all age groups in the same session. The viability of this program being offered this year will be determined by the number of interested participants." ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

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Fairness In Religions In School

Bimbadeen Heights PS are conducting a parental survey, to decide whether to continue SRI in 2016. This school is in Mooroolbark, within the Eastern Bible Belt of Melbourne. It was running at 25% participation rate in 2016. "SPECIAL RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION The Victorian Department of Education and Training have changed the way that Special Religious Instruction (SRI) is delivered in government schools from 2016. I have attached a two page DET information sheet for parents that explains these changes. The most significant change is that SRI can only be offered outside of class time, (before school, lunch time or after school). It is up to the principal to decide if SRI is offered at the school, carefully considering the circumstances of the school and the views of the school community. SRI is not compulsory for any student and will operate as an ‘opt-in’ extra-curricular activity that students can only attend with their parents’ informed consent. There would be a small cost associated with SRI to cover the cost of the work books and materials. Elsewhere in today’s Blaze you will find a brief survey form that you are invited to return to help me determine the views of our school community about SRI. Please complete this form and return it to the school office by Monday February 22. Thank you for your input into this decision." ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Alison CourticeInteresting that the survey includes the question about should there be religious instruction in Victorian schools. What are they going to do with the answers to that question? Give them to the government?2 days ago

Fairness In Religions In School

Boort P-12 school has abolished SRI for 2016. It will now be held at the local Baptist Church, after hours. This school was operating at 18% participation in 2015. "Velocity Programme At the end of this newsletter there is an advertisement for the Velocity Programme. As you may be aware, changes to the SRI structure through the Department of Education have necessitated the withdrawal of this programme but the Baptist Church has created something that will take its place after school hours. Please read the information and fill out and return the permission form if you are interested in joining in this activity. This is not a school activity so please direct any questions to the people listed on the information brochure". ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Anna SubletYes, that's right, it's 'NOT a school activity'!! Woo Hoo Yey!! Thank you FIRIS and parents in Victoria. Making school about education almost needed a revolution!2 days ago

Tobe CooperGo boort!!2 days ago