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!


  • 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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Fairness In Religions In School

Celebration of SRE Parliament House, Sydney 15th November, 2016 So just what exactly are they celebrating? Well the 2016 Celebration of SRE has rolled around again. The third biannual event was held at NSW Parliament House last week hosted by the Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS). If you asked the hosts they would tell you the event celebrated “diversity”. They certainly went to lengths to give this impression using images of multicultural children on the cover of the program and other promo material. But this is clearly just a smoke screen. If the images of children presumably of different ethnic backgrounds and perhaps different faiths portrays the impression of inclusiveness and diversity, then the PR firm has earnt its money. But who do ICCOREIS think they are fooling? If a group of transcultural kids are in the one room attending SRE it is quite possibly because Christian churches are the dominant force in SRE and when other faiths can’t muster the manpower to run their own religious instruction then students will generally default into Christian SRE. This is more like assimilation or proselytism by stealth than a celebration of diversity! So just what exactly are ICCOREIS celebrating? Well they are definitely rejoicing in the free rein the Department of Education is giving them with unfettered access to our children. By “our children” I mean the ones who have been opted in and opted out of SRE. That’s right, they have been served, all of them, on a platter. The department’s own Controversial Issues in Schools Policy Implementation Procedures (CISPro) is a document that pays lip service only to risk management when it comes to SRE. The CISPro states: “Teachers and visiting resource persons in schools have a privileged position. They have the opportunity, denied to many other concerned people, to influence students.” And: “Schools are not places for recruiting into partisan groups.” It is clear that the Department of Education has not intended these protections to be extended to impressionable children when churches send out their troops. For example take another look at this ad previously reported on by FIRIS for an SRE "teacher" to attend Kotara High School near Newcastle. Point 5: “Teacher [sic] may…speak to students in the playground to encourage them to attend SRE.” Whoah, hang on! Didn’t the CISPro say ”Schools are not places for recruiting into partisan groups”? And isn’t proselytising by definition either “to induce someone to convert to one’s faith or to recruit to join one’s party, institution, or cause”? Well let’s take a look at Berkeley Vale Campus of the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College on the Central Coast. Sound familiar? That’s right, TLSC is the school which allowed the local SRE provider to post online videos of the principal making comments about SRE which were in breach the DEC's Code of Conduct. The same video contained boastful comments by a Berkeley Vale staff member about having 95% attendance by students at SRE. The Berkeley Vale school is also home to “the church that lurks under the floorboards”. The same Lakes Church responsible for giving homophobic and misogynistic sermons in the school hall on Sundays stashes its pulpit and pews under the stage floor during the week. Berkeley Vale has a terrific monthly newsletter called “The Tattler”. It is very informative for parents but I don’t think it ever really explained just what the purpose was of the SRE teacher who attended the swimming carnival. Why is Ms Smith at the swimming carnival? Her comments on the infamous TLSC SRE video may give us an indication: “There is no other connection where they’re gonna hear about God. So this is a very unique opportunity for us to come into their school and share the gospel message with them and teach them about God and the Bible… There’s been so many things I’ve seen God do in our school and I love being able to see students’ knowledge of the Bible just really grow… And I’m seeing kids actually make decisions and God start to change them. Seeing kids who have massive behavioural problems begin to change as God starts working in their lives. And seeing those kids going to youth groups on a Friday night and even some of them moving into church on Sundays. It’s very exciting.” Is she there to encourage children to attend SRE, youth groups on a Friday night, or even church on Sundays? Who knows? But one thing is for sure. She has access to every child at the school irrespective of whether their parents declared a religion on the enrolment form, or whether it might bother parents or whether children or parents just want to be left the bloody hell alone by church groups. Back to the SRE celebration. Let’s take a look at who was selected as award winners this year. Two of this year’s award winners are DEC employees. Let’s reflect on what they have achieved in their role. Danielle Scott, the deputy principal from Hurstville, appears to have won favour with ICCOREIS this year by doing some wonderful salesmanship in “highlighting the positive influence of SRE at Kinder Orientation and at Education Week assemblies”. Well there’s a deputy who appreciates the evangelistic creed of “getting them while they’re young!” Jill Carter is the principal of Warnervale PS and has been recognised for her efforts in “Encouraging them (SRE teachers) to be involved with many aspects of school life, including toast for breakfast.” What’s “toast for breakfast”? And why is the principal promoting it? Well apparently when the local Uniting Church moved into the school hall (much like Lakes Church) they approached Ms Carter to find out ways to become involved with the children at the school. Perhaps numbers had been dwindling on Sunday mornings? They came up with the idea to serve (obligation free I’m sure) toast to kids when they arrive at school. I wonder what they’ll come up with next? So there you have it. That’s just a couple of reasons why ICCOREIS would have reason to celebrate their partnership with the NSW Department of Education: • Poor management of the foreseeable risk of proselytising by SRE teachers during scripture and anywhere else they might pop up in the school. • A total lack of any requirement for supervision of church groups in schools. • The lack of objectivity demonstrated by school principals who promote SRE and encourage church groups to involve themselves with students irrespective of the wishes of parents. This all adds up to unfettered access to our children, given to church groups by the DEC. No wonder ICCOREIS is celebrating. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

Jodie HarknessFarking MADNESS. 😡😡😡2 weeks ago

Ross ClennettCan you imagine the reaction if the same event had been held by a provider of Muslim SRE. How many principals would be attending to be recognised for their promotion of the Muslim faith at state primary school assemblies and the like? The Herald Sun would have a field day.2 weeks ago

Susan HargreavesIs Australia in the 50's? Why are they not devoting this time to Social and Emotional learning? Isn't social communication and emotional health more important than a religious curriculum in State funded schools?2 weeks ago

Julia Em"They came up with the idea to serve (obligation free I’m sure) toast to kids when they arrive at school." Oh, don't be so cynical. Chaplains organise breakfasts too, but they don't have any ulterior motive.../s/ (see last comment by a school chaplain)2 weeks ago

Fairness In Religions In School

Fairness In Religions In School shared Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

Which of these scenarios happened in a Queensland government state school this week? #1 The class was divided into two groups: boys and girls. The boys were given party bags with stickers and lollies. When the girls asked why they weren’t getting a party bag, they were told: ‘You don’t get anything because you’re a girl.’ #2 The class was divided into two groups: white children and Aboriginal children. The white kids were given party bags with stickers and lollies. When the Aboriginal children asked why they weren’t getting a party bag, they were told: ‘You don’t get anything because you’re black.’ #3 The class was divided into two groups: kids with heterosexual parents and kids with same sex parents. The kids with heterosexual parents were given party bags with stickers and lollies. When the other kids asked why they weren’t getting a party bag, they were told: ‘You don’t get anything because your parents are gay.’ #4 The class was divided into two groups: kids from low income families and kids from high income families. The kids from high income families were given party bags with stickers and lollies. When the other kids asked why they weren’t getting a party bag, they were told: ‘You don’t get anything because you’re poor.’ #5 The class was divided into two groups: kids from Christian families and kids from non-Christian families. The kids from Christian families were given party bags with stickers and lollies. When the other kids asked why they weren’t getting a party bag, they were told: ‘You don’t get anything because you’re not religious.’ And ‘That’s what you get for not doing RI.’

3 weeks ago

Kay Clarkein our multi cultural society Christmas should be banished form secular schools altogether, The last school I taught at, which had a large mix of students from many ethnic backgrounds, celebrated the end of the school year with parties and excursions. That way no child was left out.3 weeks ago