AIMS OF FIRIS

  • Maintain an inclusive school curriculum that does not require any student to withdraw from class on account of different religious beliefs.
  • Formally cease the practice of volunteer-run special religious instruction (SRI) 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.  More, you say?

 

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Fairness In Religions In School

Unfortunately for Mount Waverley Primary School, their confusion has resulted in their students and staff participating in an unlawful off-site SRI event yesterday.There is NO insurance for these SRI events - if a child was hurt while being taken illegally outside school grounds, all hell would break loose for the principal and the DEECD.The DEECD has twice, in the last week, stressed in writing (once to us and once to principals) that ONLY CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS HAVE SIGNED THEM UP FOR SRI CAN ATTEND THESE EVENTS.And here it is written in the guidelines: Where a school wishes that an SRI volunteer conduct SRI for a pageant, special event or a celebration of a festival in a school in a grouping that is not the usual class organisation or grouping (e.g. a multi-age group of students), authorisation is required from the Minister, or their delegate. This power has been formally delegated to school principals for the period beginning 20 November 2014 and ceasing on the final day of Term 4, 2014. Only SRI students (whose parents have completed, signed and returned the consent form) can attend such SRI classes or events. See: SRI Parent Consent form (CFMD141) (pdf - 88.59kb)But, as you can see, Mount Waverley PS has invited the non SRI kids also.School staff are unknowingly breaking the law and putting themselves at risk of serious consequences.If we have already mentioned that this is a comedy - it has now become a very serious case of failure to protect children from harm. ... See MoreSee Less

1 day ago

Lisel Thomasgrrrr1 day ago

Kay ClarkeNot clear on whether these children are being taken outside school only by the SRI people. That has to be illegal. No group of school children was ever allowed out the school gates with e.g. teachers aides without the correct ratio of teachers being with them. Are the teachers being told to go with them? Certainly volunteers should not be outside the school gated without teachers - if this is what is happening and a child is injured or worse then that parent can sue the principal and the DEECD I would have thought.1 day ago

Kay Clarkeon re reading the above the guidelines are for an event IN school. No mention is made of attending anything outside the school. It seems Mt Waverly has definitely broken the law by their misinterpretation of the guidelines. If school staff have been directed by the principal to do something they would not be at fault i don't think. it would comeback on the principal and the DEECD. Tiis and the above post are just my musings from my time as a teacher and a union member.1 day ago

Kay ClarkeFurther wouldn't it be fantastic if it could be put back on the SRI providers that they had broken the law!! Enough from me! As Lisel said GGRRR1 day ago

Airdrie FarrarWould like to see the permission slip for non SRI attenders. Will it be CFMD141 for this occasion only?23 hours ago

Tom RottllerI keep wanting not to place blame on principals. Can this be a simple mistake of confusion or this is deliberate or sheer laziness?How can they not be informed?19 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolWe are saying that principals are confused. The DEECD has not communicated clearly enough about this. We have seen their internal memo and it is confusing, even for our legal advisers. We do feel sorry for principals, who are often pressured by the SRI volunteers to have these events.3 hours ago

Christine PryorThis is so complicated with two separate permission slips. What is education becoming.38 minutes ago

Fairness In Religions In School

FIRIS URGES EDUCATION MINISTER TO STOP DIVISIVE AND UNLAWFUL SRI YEAR-END EVENTSParent group Fairness in Religions in School has written to Victorian Education Minister, Martin Dixon to request that he take decisive action to ensure that end-of-year celebrations and pageants are not hijacked by Special Religious Instruction (SRI) providers to run outside church services and to lead prayers on state school premises.These activities are widespread, and unlawful on the basis that religious pageants and prayer may not legally be part of the SRI content as delivered in a school. To be lawful these activities must be available to all students in the school regardless of whether they attend SRI. To the extent that an activity involves any specific religious instruction, it is forbidden by the general prohibitions in the 2006 Education and Training Reform Act.This issue has led to significant confusion in schools with resulting cancellations of Christmas celebrations. FIRIS has sought clarification from the Department, only to be told that there had been a "misunderstanding of the reasoning" behind one school’s recent decision to cancel its Christmas celebration.FIRIS Campaign Co-ordinator, Lara Wood, said: "Children should be free to enjoy year-end festivities together, not divided by religion. FIRIS is frequently contacted by parents who are taken aback by what they experience at their local school when they attend a Christmas or end-of-year celebration. SRI volunteers who run such events at state schools tread a fine line, unsuccessfully, between cultural celebration and proselytising to the discomfort, and often embarrassment, of many parents and students."There are not only problems with celebrations on school premises, but also in situations where students are invited off-site, mostly to a church, to participate in Christmas celebrations.One of the DEECD’s rules is that “Principals must ensure that an accredited instructor does not…invite or encourage any student to attend religious events held outside of school.”FIRIS has received complaints of SRI instructors taking SRI students to services in churches. We would like to know how a church service is defined as anything but a “religious event outside of school”.It is very clear that these events segregate and discriminate against students whose parents have not signed up for SRI.These events are contrary to the recommendations of Parents Victoria, whose guidelines state: "End of year celebrations in our Victorian Government Schools should reflect and represent their local school community.”FIRIS Campaign Co-ordinator, Lara Wood, also re-stated FIRIS’ objections to the significant time and money wasted on SRI and called for SRI to be removed from state schools, regardless of which party forms government after the upcoming state election:"Victorian state school parents are angry that the Napthine Coalition Government is pledging that if re-elected they will provide to ACCESS Ministries and other SRI providers a total of $3.2 million worth of grants. Parents are angry because they don’t need or want the government interfering in the religious matters of families. Parents are quite capable of organising religious instruction for their children out of school hours. They don’t need the government wasting millions of dollars and the equivalent of five weeks of their child’s primary school education on something that all religions provide outside of school hours, for free. SRI was adopted for a world very different from the one we have today. Our children need to understand the multi-cultural, multi-faith and diverse world that they live in. To that end General Religious Education, taught by qualified teachers, should permanently replace Special Religious Instruction immediately.” ... See MoreSee Less

1 day ago

Nichole Wilson1 day ago

Kay ClarkeCan't schools have "End of Year" celebrations and cut out any reference to religion? It's the only fair thing to do in our multi cultural society. The school I taught at did just this and everyone got to participate and everyone was happy.1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolDavid Neville Cook, that's exactly what we are encouraging. All or nothing.1 day ago

Ami LouisaLegitimate question... what is meant by 'General Religious Instruction'? And I'm assuming that SRI is referring to 'Christian religious education'?15 hours ago

Christine Worthingtonhttp://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/religious-debate-explodes/2467749/6 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolThanks Christine Worthington - we find the details of this case confusing and vague - what about you?3 hours ago

Kay ClarkeAgreed FIRIS. The religious provider seems to be saying that this is not democratic to cancel the concert. By that I assume they mean that the SRI children are missing out! Is that the gist of it? But the non SRI children are being discriminated against here and have been for years. There should be no events held for end of year that exclude any child.3 hours ago

 

PLEASE NOTIFY US OF ANY RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES IN YOUR SCHOOL (LUNCHTIME GROUPS, BREAKFAST CLUBS, ETC)

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