Parents Victoria endorses moving SRI out of School
News has reached the FIRIS campaign today from Parents Victoria, where at today’s AGM, a motion was passed to endorse the AEU position on SRI and to lobby the Minister of Education to move SRI outside of regular school hours.

Parents Victoria is a peak body representing concerns of parents with children in the Victoria state schools, and began as a federation of mothers clubs in 1925.

The motion passed at their AGM was:

That Parents Victoria endorses the motion passed by the Victoria Branch of the Australian Education Union May 13, 2011, and joins our teachers in calling for Special Religious Instruction to be moved outside of the normal school day by directing the Parents Victoria Executive to lobby to move SRI outside the compulsory school day.

FIRIS would like to invite parents who have been looking for a way to do more work on the SRI policy to join the “FIRIS / Parents Victoria Working Group”.

Email the campaign ( with the subject “FIRIS / Parents Victoria Working Group”, to find out how you can extend your support for FIRIS by partnering with PV to accomplish this policy change.  While FIRIS welcomes anyone who endorses our objectives, to collaborate on the Parents Victoria Working Group you will need to be a parent, with kids currently in a state primary school, and be eligible to join Parents Victoria.

Also feel free to send an email thanking the President of Parents Victoria, Sharron Healy, ( , for seconding the motion and speaking about why she feels strongly that SRI should be moved outside of the school curriculum.

FIRIS will be announcing the support of additional stakeholder groups in education policy soon, so watch this space for more good news about our progress on this issue – and thank you for your ongoing support and interest in the campaign.

The FIRIS website, and FACEBOOK page offer a great way for our far flung members to keep track of what is going on.  Check in often.

Parents Victoria has circulated the following information to their members:

Attendance at Special Religious Instruction (SRI) classes may not be compulsory, but it requires families of minority religions, or of no religion, to withdraw their children from class.

There are worrying trends in SRI; in 2006 the group authorised to administer SRI, changed its name from “Council for Christian Education” to “ACCESS MINISTRY”. This change reflects a change of focus to youth ministry from education. Its leaders have openly said they seek to “make disciples”. This has led to controversy and polarised this issue. It is commonly held that it is impolite to make an issue of our religious opinions with our neighbours. This school policy makes an issue of religion.

This policy can not help but segregate young children on religious grounds, something which is happening with greater frequency as society diversifies. Parents Victoria already supports the principles of public education; one of these is that school is secular. SRI is designed as an exception to the secular principle. The principle is the basis upon which communities of diverse religious views flourish. There is no way to cater to all religions via SRI. During school all children should be treated as Australians, not members of different religions.

Earlier this year, Parents Victoria hosted a week long online conference. The topic receiving the most interest was SRI, and nearly all of the parents who commented said SRI was not welcome in our schools.

The Victoria Branch of the AEU debated this and passed a motion calling for SRI to be moved outside of the school day, and this motion asks the PV Executive to join our teachers in seeking a change in the DEECD SRI policy.

Changing this policy is not a vote against religion; families can be trusted to attend to the religious formation of their children, there is no shortage of groups offering religious lessons outside of school in Victoria, and there are many different kinds of religions. State schools should offer inclusive non-discriminatory education about religions, not segregate children to instruction run by outside religious groups. Passing this motion sends a message to the public, DEECD and the Government, that SRI should be moved outside of the school day like any other elective activity.