One of the signal accomplishments of Australian Society was that it diffused the “troubles” which plague places like Belfast. How did people who migrated here learn to live in peace, while their relatives back home were living amid barbed wire and bombings?
So it is with some interest that we read the following letter from Belfast that arrived in our inbox from Dr Alison Mawhinney –
I came across your interesting website by chance and thought I’d drop a note to let you know of some research we’ve been involved with in the UK to do with religious education and opt-outs.
You can find details of the project, its findings and the project report at:
Our research makes reference to international human rights standards (European and UN). The UN standards are obviously applicable to Australia and it is particularly noteworthy that according to these UN standards, alternatives offered to children who are opted out “must satisfy the wishes of parents”. See page 3 of the attached article for more details.
This is a norm of international law which is frequently ignored by states yet it is one which advocacy organisations such as yourselves should use as a very powerful tool. If states can not provide suitable alternatives, then they need to rethink their RE curriculum which currently forces parents to opt out their children. In other words, an inclusive curriculum needs to be designed.
Alison Mawhinney (formely at Queen’s University Belfast, now at Bangor University, Wales)
Dr Alison Mawhinney
Lecturer in Law / Darlithydd yn y Gyfraith
School of Law / Ysgol y Gyfraith
Bangor University / Prifysgol Bangor
BANGOR, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG
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