Religious Freedom Review
One of the most important and directly related government inquiries for Northside in recent years is the current Ruddock Inquiry concerning Religious Freedom.
Northside is a foundation member of Associated Christian Schools has made a submission to the Review Panel of Experts.
For schools like Northside, three key issues are addressed in the submission.
- Recent amendments to the Marriage Act, and deficiencies in the legislative amendments with potential impact on Christian schools.
- Exemptions for Christian schools in anti-discrimination legislation, and the importance of strengthening the ability of Christian schools to select staff who conform to the school’s guiding religious beliefs.
- Recent controversy regarding the rights of parents to determine the moral and religious education of their children.
Of particular interest to our parent body will be the matter relating to the rights of parents.
We trust the following excerpt from the submission provides a snapshot for your ongoing prayers and advocacy.
Rights of parents with regards to education
The public debate in relation to same-sex marriage laws raised issues in relation to the rights of parents to determine the education of their children, and reignited controversies in relation to the Safe Schools program and, specifically, that the program is much more than an “anti-bullying” curriculum. Notwithstanding the fact that this issue is not directly connected to same-sex marriage (the issue of which has clearly been resolved through the recent Marriage Act amendments), parents within our member schools’ communities continue to express concerns that the recent legislative amendments will pave the way for such programs to become mandated curriculum for their children, which may expose their children to views on marriage and sexuality that are contrary to the traditional views held by the family.
It is clear that faith-based schools should have the freedom to teach students about issues concerning marriage and family life in accordance with their religious beliefs, subject of course to the normal curriculum requirements provided by the relevant educational authority. Indeed, it is widely misunderstood by parents that the Safe Schools program was never intended to be mandated in non-government schools. Nevertheless, we consider it necessary to continue to advocate that faith-based schools provide parents with a means to raise and educate their children in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs, as is their right. Preservation of the character of Christian Schools is essential to protecting these rights for parents and students alike. Any future attempts to introduce programs (such as the Safe Schools program) as mandatory curriculum for students in non-government schools and, in particular, Christian schools where traditional views in relation to marriage and family life are held, would be a fundamental violation of the religious freedoms of both parents and the organisation itself.
Associated Christian Schools (ACS) is a faith-based organisation established to advance education from a Christian worldview for the public benefit. Mr Kuss our Principal is a past Chair of ACS, a current ACS Director and the incoming Chair from mid-2018.