You can read their new handout here:
In it, ACCESS asserts that schools have no rights, when the law says SRI “may” be offered, what it means is that when ACCESS may offer it, and you MUST accommodate them!
Do schools have discretion to allow or disallow SRI? SRI in government schools is authorised by Section 2.2.11 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 – see the section of the Act at the end of this document. Schools and school councils don‘t have any discretion to allow or disallow SRI and must make provision for SRI where an accredited and approved instructor is available. Some commentators have incorrectly interpreted the word ‗may‘, which appears in Act to mean at the discretion of schools. Rather, the word ‗may‘ in the Act gives discretion to the religious organisation and not the school. This interpretation is supported by the legislative history and context, including Government policy and Parliamentary Hansard, which are relevant considerations under the provisions of the Legislation Interpretation Act 1984. The background to the enactment of the Act shows that it was clearly intended that the existing practices would remain where religious instruction is able to be taught if there is a provider, subject to parents optingout.
ACCESS also says that proselytising mean “using coercion”, which is an absurd definition, their definition of proselytising essentially means they promise not to torture or threaten children … glad we cleared that up, aren’t you?
What is proselytising?
Proselytising is using coercion to change a person‘s way of thinking. In the case of religion it would mean using coercion to make children believe in a religion. SRI forbids proselytising. SRI is teaching children the tenets and values of a religion, not coercing them to believe in that religion.
ACCESS, admits that their program undermines the “secular principle” of public education:
Is it appropriate to teach religion in schools; aren’t they meant to be secular? Victorian law (Education and Training Reform Act 2006) states that education in Government schools is secular with one exception – the teaching of SRI during school hours. It is not compulsory for students to attend SRI classes and parents can excuse them from attending. Does teaching SRI conflict with inquiry based learning? SRI educates children on religious tenets and beliefs and teaches values like sharing, giving, caring for others, sacrifice, mercy and the impact of their behaviours on others. These values are shared by most people in our community and underpin Australia's legal, health, administrative and social welfare sectors. SRI is not taught in a dogmatic way (THIS IS A LIE) and volunteer instructors are guided by a code of conduct which explicitly requires them to respect other points of view and not to assume the values of their students. Does the opt-out system discriminate against children? (YES!) Arrangements for children not attending SRI is a matter for schools and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, however, ACCESS ministries understands children not attending are treated in a way that does not make them feel excluded (directly contradicted by the facts), and where they can conduct self-directed learning such as homework or work on a current school project. If a parent feels their child has not had an appropriate level of supervision or treatment, ACCESS ministries would encourage them to raise their concerns immediately with the individual school. (don't blame us!)
While the practical implementation of the opt-out system is the responsibility of the schools, ACCESS ministries has an interest in the proper conduct of the SRI program and should we become aware of any unfair of disadvantageous treatment of students who opt out it would discuss these with the school and/or report these directly to the Department.