All enquiries and concerns in relation to the administration of religious instruction and chaplaincy at your school should now be placed via Secular Public Education:

Secular Public Education

http://spe.org.au/contact

Urgent matters please phone: 0478 030 705

An overwhelming majority of complaints we receive from parents and guardians are in relation to students being placed in religious instruction by default—thus disregarding the distinct opt-in / opt-out instructions they have provided within the student enrolment application. This practice is common across the state, as are occurrences of parents and guardians being incorrectly informed that all students must attend religious instruction unless being opted-out in writing. In many cases, parents and guardians are forced to repeat this illegitimate process at the commencement of each new school year.

This bypassing of strict state legislative provisions regarding religious instruction placement results in an extremely disproportionate number of predominantly ineligible students attending religious instruction—thus creating a conspicuous, faux minority of  non-attendees. Instances—usually at the commencement of a school year—when principals have undertaken to correctly allocate students to religious instruction in strict accordance with the OneSchool database have resulted in a startling reversal of RI attendee to non-attendee ratios.

Religious instruction in Queensland public schools is conducted on an ‘opt-in’ basis. The sole method by which eligibility for religious instruction placement is determined is via information provided within the standard Application for Student Enrolment form:

The above process, which should be regarded as a binding contract, enforces what is stated within the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Act 2006, and the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Regulation 2006:

29.  Students to attend religious instruction

(1) The principal of a State school must not allow a student to attend religious instruction given by a minister of religion or an accredited representative other than the denomination or society of which the student is a member, unless the student’s parent has given written consent.

OneSchool electronic database statistics current at July 2015 reveal that on a statewide basis, approximately 26% of the Queensland state school student population (P-12) are eligible for religious instruction without—as the Education Act states—’the student’s parent having given written consent’.By having either left the ‘Religion’ question space blank, entered ‘no religion’, or anything other than one of the “denominations or societies” providing volunteer religious instructors to the school, the remaining approximately 76% of Queensland public school students have effectively been ‘opted-out’ of all religious instruction.The current religious instruction placement flowchart below clearly describes this path to placement or non-placement into religious instruction according to Queensland education law:

The wording below the enrolment application ‘Religion’ question provides parents and guardians with an accurate and clear indication of how the supplied information will lead to placement or non-placement into religious instruction. Education Queensland provides or authorises no religious instruction placement ‘permission’ documents or processes other than the enrolment application. We are aware though, that at school level there is widespread use of unofficial ‘made-up’ permission forms.

The wording below the enrolment application ‘Religion’ question provides parents and guardians with an accurate and clear indication of how the supplied information will lead to placement or non-placement into religious instruction. Education Queensland provides or authorises no religious instruction placement ‘permission’ documents or processes other than the enrolment application. We are aware though, that at school level there is widespread use of unofficial ‘made-up’ permission forms. Attempts to recruit attendees to ‘confessional’ single faith external volunteer provided religious instruction via any unauthorised documentation or processes could well be construed as ‘coercion’ under Article 18.3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

“The freedom from coercion to have or to adopt a religion or belief..”

Should you have any concerns in relation to the above, please contact Secular Public Education, or should the matter be urgent, phone 0478 030 705.

 

Ron Williams

Secular Public Education Limited is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, and is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Our primary charitable purposes are promoting or protecting human rights, promoting or opposing changes to laws, government policies or practices, and advancing education.

While advising and advocating for parents, caregivers, concerned citizens and relevant organisations Australia wide, we are actively pursuing change to government laws and policies regarding religious instruction and federally funded religious chaplains in Australian public schools.

It is also our belief that many of the same federal and state government laws and policies are in breach of, and may be challenged under, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We are proud to announce that the development of our flagship project, Faith, Philosophy, and Fable – a history of human contemplation, has commenced. Supported by exciting and engaging modular and P-12 graded multimedia resources and materials, FP&F will explore human contemplation from the earliest known manifestations some 300,000 years ago. From Middle Paleolithic burial rites and rituals through the anthropomorphic ‘Lion Man’ figurine of c. 38,000 BCE, to the Sumerian deities of the 3rd millennium BCE, Mesopotamian mythology, the development of eastern and western philosophies and belief systems, and the Enlightenment, Faith, Philosophy, and Fable – a history of human contemplation will comprehensively observe the astonishing history of human thought—the how, when, where, and why.

Ron Williams
Managing Director
Secular Public Education Limited 

 

NEWS

2015-07-29
2015 Secular Public Education™ and Humanist Society of Queensland secure the release via RTI latest Education Queensland religious instruction participation eligibility figures as per the definitive DETA OneSchool central database. Across Queensland, 388,731 (74%) of the total student population of 526,931 are ineligible by law for placement into Christian religious instruction without written parental/guardian consent.
Data available at DETE website (click)

2014-05-04 Courier Mail
Exempt children still receiving religious instruction in state schools

2013-02-22 Education Queensland
Creationism can be compared with Evolution as a ‘non-scientific theory’ in classrooms

2013-02-04 Qld Studies Authority (QSA)
Creationism can be compared with Evolution as a ‘non-scientific theory’ in classrooms

2013-02-04 ABC RN Life Matters
Creationism in science classes within State schools across Queensland

2012-10-22 ABC Religion & Ethics
Faith in schools: the dismantling of Australia's secular public education system

2012-10-22 ABC Chrys Stevenson
Blow your mind: religion in Australia's 'secular' state schools

2012-10-13 HSQ Brisbane Conference
Separation of Church and State Schools - Time for reform in Queensland? a success

2012-10-13 Queensland Courier Mail
Queensland Teachers' Union questions role of chaplains in state schools

2011-08-13 ABC TV NEWS
Education Queensland defends NSCP chaplain organising Creation Science lecture

2010-08-01 Queensland Sunday Mail
Creationists hijack lessons and teach kids man and dinosaurs walked together

 

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