Christian Schools Australia (CSA), has called for the national curriculum to be “rebalanced” by including a fourth cross-curriculum priority about Australia’s Western heritage and its Judeo-Christian influences. In its submission to the national curriculum review, the CSA, which represents 130 of the 1100 independent schools, endorses the other three cross-curriculum priorities of Asia, indigenous culture, and sustainability, but says they have come to dominate the way subjects are taught in schools. “While we may look forward to greater engagement with Asia, this should not preclude the analysis of the current and historical engagement with other parts of the world,” it says.

It went on to say “Ensuring the continued recognition of the ‘Western/Judeo-Christian’ influences on our society may help to address these concerns.” The comments echo the criticism by one of the members of the review panel, education consultant and commentator Kevin Donnelly, and the Coalition government, including Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority says the cross-curriculum priorities are three key areas that provide an extra dimension to the subjects taught in schools, but are intended to be embedded in the disciplines, not taught as separate subjects.

The CSA says the mechanism for embedding these priorities may be understood by those heavily involved in the curriculum’s development, but is not effectively communicated to teachers or the general community. “There is at least a presumption by many people that these priorities are more in the nature of dominant, almost exclusive, themes that effectively exclude other perspectives and approaches,” it says. “To the extent that this has occurred, there needs to be a ‘rebalancing’ of the priorities to ensure that an over-emphasis on these issues does not continue.”

In a separate submission, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) supports criticism by Dr Donnelly and others that the curriculum underplays the significance of Christianity in Australia’s history, its modern institutions and culture. The ACL says related to this is “Bible literacy” and it cites prominent atheists, including former British poet laureate Andrew Motion and scientist Richard Dawkins, who say the Bible should be taught in schools as part of the study of literature. “An understanding of the Bible is necessary to understand Australia’s culture, art, and literature, as well as of Australian society, its institutions, law and politics,” it says.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke is facing a third inquiry that could lead to his being barred from medical practice, after a complaint that he promoted euthanasia for social reasons, such as not being able to play golf. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) received the complaint after a lecture by Dr Nitschke at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital pain management unit in Perth. AHPRA has given Dr Nitschke until the end of this week to respond to the February complaint from one of the doctors at the hospital expressing concern “about him promoting euthanasia for ‘social reasons’.”

“These reasons include reaching a certain age, not being able to play golf, and grief at the death of a spouse,” the complaint said and noted that Dr Nitschke “actively promotes assisted suicides/euthanasia”. It is the third complaint against Dr Nitschke being considered by AHPRA. The watchdog has launched investigations into complaints he tried to import the sedative nembutal to use as a sleeping pill for a terminally ill patient and set up a sham beer-brewing company, Max Dog Brewing, to import nitrogen cylinders capable of being used for suicide. Dr Nitschke believes the latest inquiry is “an ambush” timed to discredit his campaign in the Western Australian Senate election.

A spokeswoman for AHPRA said the authority did not comment on individual cases. Two days before telling Dr Nitschke that he was facing a new inquiry, AHPRA informed him the two previous inquiries were continuing and further information was needed to help the Medical Board of Australia make an “informed decision”. The first inquiry is looking at claims Dr Nitschke tried to “facilitate the supply of the unapproved medicine, pentobarbital sodium”. The second inquiry is into Max Dog Brewing, which is advertised on euthanasia websites as able to provide nitrogen tanks, which are compatible with plastic bags used for suffocation.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Suicide continues to be a major social concern and one of Australia’s leading causes of death, according to one of the nation’s leading providers of suicide prevention services – Wesley Mission. Figures just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that death by suicide reached a decade high 2,535. During the past 10 years, an average of 2,283 Australians have taken their own lives annually. “The impact of these deaths on families and communities has been profound,” said Wesley Mission CEO the Rev Dr Keith Garner. Trauma and grief does not distinguish on the basis of age, gender, cultural or social background.”

The latest information is important to Wesley Mission because it is a national provider of one of Australia’s largest suicide prevention programs – Wesley LifeForce – and runs the telephone crisis help line Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland. “It is important that Wesley Mission gets the right data to see the real picture and undertake research, policy development and develop appropriate targeted services,” Dr Garner said. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Cause of Death, Australia, 2012 data shows that:

*  In 2012 males continued to be at greater risk of suicide with 1,901 individuals taking their own life; 634 females also died by suicide, a total of 2,535 deaths, which is the equivalent of 7 suicide deaths every day in Australia.

*  the suicide death rate nationally is now 11.2 per 100,000 population, an increase of 0.5 from last year. There has been fluctuation in the individual state suicide death rate New South Wales 8.9; Victoria 9.7; Queensland 13.0; South Australia11.8; Western Australia 13.5; Northern Territory 18.1; Tasmania 14.1; and the Australian Capital Territory 9.1.

*  suicide is the number one cause of death for males and females aged 15-44 with 1 in 5 deaths being suicide within this age range.

*  the highest suicide death rate per 100,000 population was found in males aged 85 and over (37.6) followed by males aged 45-54 (25.4), the highest death rate per 100,000 females was in the age range 35-44 (8.3)

Source: Press Release from Wesley Mission

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