“When I was in my early teens, I remember our SRI teacher speaking to us about how important it was to encourage one another, and how especially in early high school not to judge one another on small things but be kind to each person. It made this era of life much easier to live through. There was nothing this positive coming from home,” said one respondent.
“Long after school finished for me, SRI continues to provide a foundation for me to build my life as a worthwhile citizen,” said another.
A third said: “As a teacher [of SRI] I was taking a lesson on Consequences. Unbeknown to me, that very day the class was having issues in this regard. Recently the teacher mentioned that my lesson reinforced the values she was trying to teach and was very grateful.”
Nearly 80 per cent of the 307 respondents said they strongly believed that the current system of a compulsory secular curriculum supplemented by voluntary religious instruction allows parents to exercise their responsibility for the religious and moral education of their children, in line with the Education Act.
The survey comments show a different side to the story presented by a group of parents who have lodged a complaint against the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, claiming discrimination in the way that Special Religious Instruction occurs in schools. These parents have erected a big billboard in Bulleen to attack Scripture classes, claiming that children excluded from SRI may feel “isolated and anxious”.
“SRI respects the wishes of parents by allowing them to decide whether their child attends these classes or not,” said FamilyVoice state officer Peter Stevens. “The complainants have the choice to withdraw their children. They should not deny other parents the choice to allow their children to learn what they believe to be both true and beneficial.”
Ninety per cent of survey respondents agreed that parents, not the state, have the primary responsibility for the religious and moral education of their children.
Many respondents also shared positive stories specifically about how the Christian Religious Education program provided by ACCESS Ministries benefited them.
- Christianity and culture