VICTORIAN LABOR PARTY POLICY WILL LIMIT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Victorian Labor’s “standard response” to voters concerned about its anti-religious freedom policy is giving no one comfort that their freedoms will not be trampled, according to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). More than 1500 Victorians have responded to an ACL call to email Labor leader Daniel Andrews and his candidates about their concerns for religious freedom. Victorian Labor is taking a policy to the election which will restrict the freedom of religious schools and organisations to select staff who share their ethos, ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn said. “Political parties have no such restriction and it does not seem fair that religious schools and organisations should have a different standard forced upon them.
“Victorian Labor’s policy would have the consequence that religious organisations could be forced to employ staff who do not share their ethos. That is absurd,” Mr Flynn said. “Freedom of religion and freedom of association means parents should be free to enrol children in a school that they know whose staff will uphold the religious ethos of the school. “It is not for the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to dictate the staff a religious community employs.” Mr Flynn said Labor’s “standard response” email did not allay concerns about religious freedom.
“Many roles – teachers, managers and staff – will be subject to Labor’s ‘inherent requirements test’. How the test works will be determined not by religious schools and organisations but by the Commission, VCAT and the courts,” Mr Flynn said. “In 2009 when the inherent requirements test was first proposed, the CEO of VEOHRC Dr Helen Szoke wrote that the roles of religious education teacher or a chaplain in a religious school would pass the test and could be required to share the school’s religious beliefs, but ‘in the case of office staff or the maths teacher, it will need to be made explicit [by the school] how religion is relevant to the job’.
“So the human rights bureaucracy enforcing this is unlikely to buy Labor’s ‘standard response’. They argue that the inherent requirements test will not allow religious bodies or schools to use religious beliefs to select teachers of maths, history, English or sports (or any other subject with the exception of religious studies) or to select administrators or managers or front office staff.” Mr Flynn said ACL had worked to try and convince Labor not to undermine religious freedom. Victorian voters, in large numbers, are now calling for religious freedom to be a priority in the election campaign.
LIFTING THE BAR ON COACHING OF AUSTRALIAN CHURCH PLANTERS
“If we are going to do church planting well in Australia we need coaches who understand and connect with Australian culture as well,” says Craig Tucker. Craig has just been appointed to head up the developing and mentoring of coaches for Geneva Push, an Australian church planting network. Mr Tucker has decades of experience as both a pastor and a church planter, and he takes up the position convicted that Australian planters need Australian coaches. “The whole genius of church planting is you get to think about, ‘How do I reach people in this particular cultural context in this quarter of the city, state or this part of Australia?’” Craig says.
“A church planter needs to think really like a cultural missionary. It is vital that he have a coach who understands that context as well.” Australian church planters currently have the opportunity to partner with a number of church planting organisations but only Geneva Push offers exclusively Australian coaches with tried and tested planting experience. “The great thing about the Geneva Push network is that it already has lots of church planters on the ground and lots of coaching relationships already happening,” Craig says. He will be charged with mentoring Geneva Push’s existing network of 60 coaches, and recruiting more to service the growing number of churches being planted through the non-denominational network.
“What we want to do first of all is, raise the bar on that coaching. Think about the quality of that and the intentionality of that,” he says. “Also, as the number of church planters grow we really need to recruit and train well another generation of Australian, church planting experienced coaches to coach the next generation.” The Geneva Push network has supported close to 50 fledgling churches since its foundation in 2009, including the planting of 48 new works. Craig will be a vital part of that support system as the network prepares to partner in the planting of a further 20 churches in 2015.
“A mentor is usually someone who is older and wiser and highly relational. A trainer focuses on giving someone skills,” Craig says. “But a coach aims to be someone in the middle. The relationship is going to be relational. But it’s also going to be about getting the church plant working. It’s holding those two things together.” Craig said. Geneva Push will be assessing potential church planters at its annual Multiply conference in Melbourne from November 26-28. Multiply14 will be specifically focussing on developing church plants to reach an increasingly multicultural Australia. Successful candidates will receive a range of support for the first three years of their church plant, including a dedicated one-to-one coach
CHILDCARE CENTRES BREED AGRESSION ACCORDING TO STUDY
Researchers from the University of Adelaide monitored the development of more than 3200 children across Australia following time spent in different types of care up to age three. Based on surveys of parents and teachers, they found the length of time spent in childcare centres was directly linked to increases in problem behaviours by the age of four or five. University of Adelaide PhD student Angela Gialamas says children who spent time in childcare centres were more likely to be restless, easily distracted and aggressive towards others. But they were also less likely to be anxious or depressed than children who did not attend childcare, Ms Gialamas said.
“These children were less likely to be reported by parents and teachers as being unhappy and withdrawn,” she said. “That may relate to childcare centres having more same-aged peers than any other type of child care setting. Ms Gialamas said further research was required to determine why children placed in childcare centres were more likely to develop problem behaviours. Children who spent more time in family day care or under the care of nannies did not show increased signs of problem behaviours, she said. More than 75 per cent of children surveyed had spent regular time in the care of someone other than their parents by the age of three.