Experts say

Religious Instruction is a private matter and is the responsibility of the family. If the family is unable to do this then they should go to their church, synagogue or mosque for help and not expect secular public schools to do their job. — Dr David Zyngier, Senior Lecturer in Curriculum & Pedagogy, Monash University

Education about religion is too important to be left to amateurs. Our kids deserve to learn about all the traditions that make up our multicultural nation – from qualified teachers. — Professor Marion Maddox.  Author, academic and political commentator, Macquarie University

The curriculum developed by Access Ministries is appalling.  Now, unfortunately, most of the Christians out there trying to train the next generation are putting them off with the kind of crap they serve. — Professor Gary Bouma, Anglican priest at Saint John’s church in East Malvern and the UNESCO chairman in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations

The use of education time, for individual religious groups to come and instruct their own religious beliefs, regardless of how well intentioned, good valued, useful (or useless) others may believe them to be, is totally inappropriate… Specific religious instruction by individual religious groups is not part of a child’s education curriculum and should not be part of a school day or curriculum. It should stop immediately. — Kathy Walker, Founding Director of Early Life Foundations and one of Australia’s leading parenting and education consultancies in areas of research and consultation in education and parenting.  In 2012 and 2014 she was nominated for Australian of the Year, and in 2014 she was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM). Read full essay here

It is not education, it has no value whatsoever. It is rubbish – hollow and empty rhetoric … My school teachers are committed to teaching children, not indoctrinating them. — Joe Kelly, principal of Cranbourne South Primary School

It is a logical necessity to get proselytisation out of the classroom. —Waleed Aly, Monash University, Author, ‘People Like Us: How Arrogance is Dividing Islam and the West’

In a multicultural society like ours, I am appalled that our state schools would promote one particular faith over all other world views, and would remove children whose families have different beliefs from the class. — Sophie Aitken, FIRIS parent, mother of 3 boys

This battle is one the advocates of what is called Special Religious Instruction are doomed to lose, because the high ground belongs to their opponents. — Barney Zwartz, Religion Editor, The AGE

The current system is unfair because it allows for indoctrination to occur. It allows for students to be instructed in one religion rather than giving them a broader perspective. — InterAction co-founder Ali Majokah

At school, there ought to be a general religious curriculum to introduce children to the ideas and motivations and rituals – in a word, the ethos – of all the religions. — Father Bob Maguire, one of Australia’s genuine heroes

Another teacher, remarking on the difference between education and instruction, pointed out that “my role as a teacher is to ensure inquiry-based learning is free from dogma and conducive to objective, independent thought“. On the basis of that representative comment, RI clearly belongs outside school time. — Tony Taylor, Monash University, Associate Professor of Education; Ph.D. (Cambridge)

Independent schools offer broad religious education taught by professional teachers, rather than the ”confessional” style of Christianity taught by Access Ministries’ volunteers. Access Ministries look for conversion – their understanding of Christian education is to get disciples.

“Instruction” should be confined to settings like parish churches and confirmation classes, where the people are all willingly present and expect to be instructed. The state school classroom is not the place for conversion or proselytising. — The chaplain of Melbourne Grammar, Reverend Dr. Ron Noone

If you want your kids to learn some basic Christian principles, why not do it yourself at home where you control exactly what your kids are being told? Why would you expose them to unqualified volunteers teaching a curriculum you know very little about? And do you really believe they’re teaching acceptance, tolerance and open-mindedness – or something else entirely?

The debate over SRI is not about whether people choose to have a religious faith or not, or whether Australia needs to embrace its multi-faith community or stick with its Christian heritage, or even whether people believe in evolution or creation – although all those things are important. It’s simply that there is no place for specific faith-based religious instruction in a secular school system. — Jacqui Tomlins – Author, freelance writer, blogger and mum of three