After three years of correspondence with both the previous and current Minister for Education and the Department of Education, FIRIS has exhausted all formal and bureaucratic means to have the Minister include a simple but very important statement in the Religious Education Implementation Procedures.

Not only has the Minister granted the scripture lobby’s wish to have a declaration of ‘no religion’ on the enrolment form ignored, he has also chosen to not make the necessary amendments which would ensure students are not placed in scripture classes without express consent from parents and caregivers.

See here for a detailed discussion of the history of the history of the changes to the enrolment processes.

By deciding not to amend the Religious Education Implementation Procedures and its supporting documents prior to the 2018 school year, of the 803,580 students enrolled in the 2018 school year, the Minister exposed  –
  • 230,157 students whose parents/caregivers declared ‘no religion’ and
  • 7,827 students whose parents/caregivers were recorded as intentionally not stating their religion or belief and
  • 107,321 students whose parents/caregivers left the enrolment form blank

– to the risk of being placed in a scripture class ‘deemed most suitable’ if the SRE Participation Letter was not returned.

Given that the Minister has still not made the necessary changes to the Procedures and its supporting documents, FIRIS has decided to take more direct action to try and prevent students being exposed to this risk in 2019.
Today FIRIS started forwarding the letter below to every public primary and secondary school principal in NSW to directly inform them about the important step in the enrolment process which the Minister and the scripture lobby do not want them to know about.
FIRIS is now calling upon its supporters to help us to bring this matter to the attention of every Parents and Citizens Association active in a NSW public school. FIRIS would like to enable P&Cs to take the necessary action to ensure that the rights and choices of all students and their parents and caregivers are respected and that schools are following the Minister’s and the Department’s procedural advice contained in the letter.
Therefore, FIRIS is asking its supporters to support us in one of the following ways –
  • Forward the contact details of the President or Secretary of the local P&C Association to FIRIS so we can contact them and request that the letter above be tabled and discussed at the next meeting, or
  • Request that this issue be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, and present the letter in person and put forward a motion requesting that the principal ensure that the rights and choices of all students and their parents and caregivers are respected. FIRIS would also liked to be informed of the outcome.

For non-NSW supporters wanting to help, please send an email to FIRIS and we can let you know how you can support us.

It is time to make it very clear – When it comes to scripture in Australian public schools, it is not a ‘yes’ if it is not a clear and informed ‘yes’.