The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) is taken aback at revelations that the NSW State Government is seeking to remove any reference to ethics classes on school enrolment forms, after intense private lobbying from religious interest groups.
What sort of "ethics", religious or otherwise, are being modelled for our children by the following actions, as reported in the media?
- Despite (or perhaps because of?) the demonstrated popularity of secular ethics classes, the government will start hiding information about their availability, once again privileging religion in a secular society.
- While religious interest groups had access and input into changes which will benefit them, the Minister apparently did not consult or meet with parents or ethics classes providers – along with children, those who will be most affected by this change.
- Rather than the government being open and upfront about their specific intentions, parents and voters found out about this via a Freedom of Information request.
- To remove alleged "confusion", the ability for parents to opt-out of SRI will apparently be severely curtailed, and the option of ethics will not be mentioned at all – surely causing further confusion for parents as to whether the option is available at all, and undermining informed parental choice.
- No real reason has been given as to why these changes are needed. What is the alleged "problem" that these are intended to fix? That secular ethics classes have become too popular?
- While all parties to this deny any connection with Fred Nile's support for legislation, it is difficult to see this as anything but an attempt to curry favour with Mr Nile to prompt his party's support for the government's legislative program.
AFA President Michael Boyd said:
"It seems that the NSW government actively wants to put more religion back into public schools in an increasingly secular 21st century Australian society, when parents have resoundingly voted for the secular ethics alternative. What is the government afraid of?".
The AFA calls on the NSW Government to stop trying to preference already privileged religions by stealth, and to maintain a policy of enabling parents to make a fully informed choice at all times – including about opting-out of SRE, and the availability of secular ethics classes.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595
Phone: (08) 8835 2269
Email: [email protected]