Tony Abbott may have thought it was “a bit of a ragged week” for his Government, but we think it’s been even worse for education in Australia.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) is deeply concerned at the Government’s proposal to directly fund the training of priests, imams, pastors, rabbis, and other religious personnel – for the first time in Australian history. This funding will allow religious training institutions to share in over $820 million over three years.
In the context of the overall proposed cuts to the higher education sector, we can see far better uses for that money.
Combined with the continued $248 million of funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) while removing the option of secular student welfare workers, and a planned injection of “Judeo-Christian values” into the National Curriculum, it all adds up to both a march backwards towards sectarian education and a dudding of taxpayers.
AFA President Michael Boyd says:
“Religious institutions already receive billions of dollars of taxpayer assistance in the form of religious tax concessions. On top of this, the government is finding new ways of boosting religious income by directly funding their personnel training programs and continuing to pay them for the NSCP. Taxpayers being told that there’s a budget emergency and they will have to tighten their own belts, while the government hits them with this ‘double-whammy’.
These religious groups (include some of the richest organisations in Australia and the world) and should not be given a financial leg-up at the expense of ordinary Australians, or the separation of church and state.”
We call on the Federal Government to review its priorities, and place proper, secular funding of all Australian students ahead of narrow sectarian interests.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia represents the fastest growing (and now second largest) demographic in Australia according to the latest Census results. As part of our charter, we advocate to safeguard the rights of all non-religious people.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595
Phone: (08) 8835 2269
Email: [email protected]