The Melbourne Anglicans are speaking out against SRI, as is evident from their “web forum” which includes the comments below:

Original post here

Ray Cleary

Yes there is a place for religious education in school but it should be taught not by well intentioned volunteers but by trained and resourced educators who understand the developmental needs of children and who understand their role as sharing the heritage and place religion has played in the lives of Australians . When I taught RE many years ago their was a common curriculum we were not to transcend .

The current debate suggest all is not well, Supervision and training inadequate and quality assurance minimal. The Church does itself and the volunteers a great disservice under the current model and gives those who appose any form of religious provision a strong case to see the privilege withdrawn.

on 16/05/2011 8:58 AM

Pure Secularism?

What occurs in SRI in Victoria is a farce.  Volunteers selected for their religious devotion are desperately sought by a group led by evangelicals who refer to our schools as “our greatest mission field”.

This nation was the first in the world to establish a system of schooling that set aside religious identity, and it was the first place in the world to make schools “secular”.  This of course was a fantastic thing for children and for religion.  As in the USA, the only possible way to run an immigrant nation blended from different faiths is by committing ourselves to “secular institutions”.

The umbrella of secular society allows each sect, and each individual to pursue their idea of God.  The secular principle has been the greatest innovation in human welfare ever created.

Of course families should attend church and participate in religion outside of school hours.  School lasts M-F 9:00-3:30

Of course children should learn about religion as part of social and cultural studies.  They should also learn about the precious value of “secularism” in Australia.

Of all the institutions that should value the policies of a “secular” society – it should be the church.

What ACCESS Ministry does is damaging to education and it is damaging to religion.

on 24/05/2011 6:22 AM

Brigid O’Carroll Walsh

I am an Anglican within the Diocese of Melbourne.  Prior to coming to Melbourne six years ago,  I lived in Townsville.  At that time, Scripture Union placed part-time chaplains in state schools who were funded by contributions across the churches in Townsville.  I had no problems with contributing to this form of chaplaincy although, over time, I began to see the ambition which has now resulted in extensive funding of full-time chaplains in state schools by the Federal Government.

I dislike intensely what I see happening. I was raised a Roman Catholic and am familiar with the moves from that direction to get favourable financial treatment along with political influence.  I have also watched with interest moves from evangelical churches which don’t have the same numbers as Catholics and ambitious pentecostal churches such as Hillsong to move into the field under the title of Australian Christian Lobby.

The same lobbying for religion in state schools also seeks to enter into public policy areas to enforce views on people who don’t share their religious morals or substitute legislation for what the churches are unable to impose on their own flocks.

I am old enough to remember the extensive religious bigotry in this country – when, quite often, protestants would not attend a catholic wedding and vice versa but they would turn up at the reception.  One could often see this played out in clusters of people outside churches on Saturday afternoons across the country.

The current bedfellows of government and religion through significant funding mechanisms of private education and chaplaincy in public schools – and Rudolf Steiner schools on government property next door to state schools – while allowing the rundown of secular public schools risks a return to widespread bigotry.  As we build the walls of religion around private schools and then attempt penetration of the public school sector, we put an admirable secular public square where we can all mingle – irrespective of religious belief –  at great risk.

Finally, I would make two points.  FIRST: I see chaplaincy as an outworking of a demand within Christian circles for God-jobs.  This, in many cases, is an outworking of the increasing number of graduates from theology schools throughout the denominations.  So many graduates want a religious job.  SECOND: I would remind that Jesus took no money from the purse of power.  But Judas did.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

on 24/05/2011 8:57 AM

no room for SRI

I strongly believe there is no room in our public schools for RE or chaplains. While I would welcome lessons by trained teachers on the religions of the world –just as I believe overviews of the world’s languages and cultures are appropriate– the current system of ‘instruction’ about only one faith is antithetical to our plural society.

Secondly, I believe it is wrong for the state of Victoria to outsource education to volunteers. This is what is happening as education budgets are cut while funding for Access Ministries is increased.

on 24/05/2011 9:35 AM

Lack of choice

I think that what irks me about this whole exercise is that I feel like, as a parent, I don’t have a choice.

Ideally, if I wanted my children to learn about a particular belief system, I could send them to a religious school – be it Catholic, Anglican or Islamic, on the understanding that they would be (and I’m going to use an inflammatory word here but it’s the only one that fits) indoctrinated in the faith that I follow.

With the current system, I do not have that choice. If I choose to opt my kids out of the religious instruction provided by Access Ministries, my children are taken out of their classroom (and it’s worth mentioning, again, that they CANNOT  be taught anything during this time, so that the kids IN the Access Ministries class don’t miss out) and sent off to the library or shown a video.

So my choice is, during the time that is allocated for my kids to learn, that they either a) watch TV or b) get taught “something” about a particular branch of a particular religion by someone who is not a teacher.

Not much chop either way.

SRI & chaplins

In short.
I am agnostic.
Would support a multi-faith panel to develop a curriculum on religion, ethics, faith.
All calling funding should go to providing trained counselors.

on 24/05/2011 11:36 AM

Re: Religious Education in schools – a Godsend, or an intrusion on the secular state?

As an atheist who was raised in a religious household and went to Catholic primary and secondary school, I think that learning about religion is important. It is my opinion, though, that any religious education should be taught by qualified teachers in a Social Studies or History context, and should absolutely not be taught by unqualified volunteers as a separate part of the curriculum.
on 24/05/2011 12:23 PM


The only religion that should be in school is comparative religion taught by the teacher. This promotes tolerance for other beliefs and cultures. Having a volunteer come in to teach one particular faith in a multifaith/multicultural society creates divisiveness and intolerance, this doesn’t do anyone any service, not religious people or non religious.

on 24/05/2011 5:08 PM