SEX AND RELIGION LESSONS SHOULD NOT BE WRITTEN BY IDEOLOGICAL INTEREST GROUPS
An architect of the school curriculum has demanded a stop to the “outsourcing” of religious instruction and sex education to “ideological interest groups”. Ken Wiltshire, who reviewed the national curriculum for the Coalition government last year, said controversial subjects should be taught only with parental consent. He said the Safe Schools furore showed the danger of letting “ideological groups” devise lesson plans without Education Department input. “Governments should never outsource the development of curriculum content to interest groups, particularly those with an ideological purpose or agenda,” he said. “There is no quality assurance. No controversial material should be taught in schools without the agreement of parents, acting in concert with the school.”
Emeritus Professor Wiltshire – a professor of public administration at the University of Queensland – said the furore over Safe Schools showed why education authorities should vet any lessons involving sex, religion, alcohol or drug education. “We need to learn the lesson of the Safe Schools agenda,” he said. “We don’t want material creeping into the curriculum without it being quality assured. You should never outsource the development of a curriculum to any group with a particular agenda, or blindly accept any curriculum material they have provided to be used in schools. “Everyone should have the right to say what they think should go into a curriculum – but at the end of the day the education ministers are responsible for the curriculum.”
Professor Wiltshire said governments often left the teaching of religion and sex education to outside groups because the issues were political “hot potatoes”. He warned it was unfair for education departments to expect principals to assess the suitability of religious instruction or sex education materials taught during school time. The Safe Schools Coalition – an anti-bullying program for gay and intersex children – has been broadly criticised over its ideological agenda, which tells children they are “gender fluid” and teaches them it is “heteronormative” to refer to boys and girls, or use the pronouns “he” or “she”. Its classroom materials included links to a gay youth website, Minus 18, which included instructions on penis tucking and chest binding, and promoted online links to sex shops and gay nightclubs.
The federally funded program – which was not developed by education or health experts – was co-written by Marxist activist Roz Ward, who was briefly suspended last month from La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. The Andrews Labor government in Victoria is defying a federal government directive that schools seek parental permission to teach the Safe Schools program. Queensland – the only state that refuses to reveal which schools take part in Safe Schools – this week announced a review of Anglican Church teaching materials for religious instruction. The Connect curriculum, published by Christian Education Publications and available nationally, includes a lesson plan that tells children they “will die” if they are selfish.
The Queensland review follows a decision by the Anglican Church in NSW last year to remove religious instruction materials that taught Year 9 students they should “die for their faith if necessary”. Professor Wiltshire’s co-reviewer of the national curriculum, Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly, said parents should have to give consent for religious or sex education in schools, but he disagreed with Professor Wiltshire’s call for official vetting of religious or sex education. “Frankly I would not trust the national and state curriculum boards to design a curriculum for potentially very controversial, sensitive areas,” he said. “They are very culturally Left. The difficulty would be getting an objective, impartial and balanced curriculum.”
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE SLAMMED OVER ELECTION BILLBOARD
The Defence Department has been branded hypocritical for accusing a Liberal and a Labor candidate of politicising their military uniforms, while allowing officers to march in uniform at the “highly political” Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Andrew Hastie, a former SAS solder who is now federal MP for Canning, said he was disappointed Defence had sacked him from the standby army reserves after he refused to take down a billboard showing him in army fatigues. He won backing from Liberal ministers Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann, but Defence Minister Marise Payne stood by her department’s decision. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has also ordered Labor’s candidate in the seat of Brisbane, former army officer Pat O’Neill, to pull down his campaign posters showing him in his military uniform.
Defence said Mr Hastie was sacked because its policy was to ensure the Defence Force remained apolitical. Members were not allowed to participate in any “political activity” in uniform. Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defence Association, accused Defence of applying the policy inconsistently through its decision to allow its officers to march in the Sydney mardi gras in their uniforms since 2013. “This breaches the same convention, which goes back hundreds of years,” Mr James said. “The mardi gras is a highly -political event – all of the floats are bagging the conservative side of politics. “We’d be saying the same thing if ADF officers were in uniform at an anti-abortion rally or an Australian Patriots Alliance march.
“You just can’t allow people to improperly use their ADF status for a political event.” Mr James said he believed Mr Hastie’s billboard was an unequivocal breach of Defence policy. Mr Hastie said it was simply a photo montage that featured his wife and baby son. “It represents who I am – it’s tasteful and it’s in good judgment,” he said. A former long-serving army -officer standing at the election, NSW Senate candidate Jim Molan, supported Mr Hastie on the issue. “It doesn’t seem like a breach to me,” said Mr Molan, who served in Iraq and East Timor and was an adviser to the Abbott government on border protection. “It’s a real shame that Defence cannot accommodate Andrew.” Mr Hastie said he was keeping the billboard because he was no longer under the authority of Defence.
“I don’t take orders from the military and I don’t intend to,” the Liberal MP said. Mr Hastie said Defence had not ordered him to remove the same material during the Canning by-election last year. Mr Hastie won the by-election after a 13-year career in the military. Campaigning in Perth, the Treasurer said he supported Mr Hastie’s refusal to take down the billboard. “He is an extraordinary individual and I stand by Andrew 100%, as does the team,” Mr Morrison said. In a statement, Senator Payne offered cautious backing to her department. “The Turnbull Coalition government strongly supports Mr Hastie as the best candidate to represent the people of Canning,” the Defence Minister said. “Mr Hastie has made his decision to retain his campaign material and Defence has made a decision based on their policy.”
Just released is our June 2016 Newsletter which can be viewed in PDF format and easily printed. Please have a good read of this Newsletter and you will hear our heart for this Day that God has given us for our Nation. In this edition we cover a number of subjects.
2016 in Review We cover some of the highlights such as changing our name and the added direction of a more personal way of living thankfully. Also our Ambassadors and some of the challenges we face.
Letter from the Editor This is a must read article. What is so Hard about Unity. In this article we discuss an all-important key of unity demonstrated through events that have been held celebrating Australia’s National Day of Thanks.
Products A brief update on the products we provide to help you celebrate this Day. Maybe there is a product you would like us to produce. Have a look at this section and give us your feedback.
Resources We are constantly working to provide resources you can use. Especially video material for the Free DVD we make available each year. We can develop all kinds of resources but we need to know what you need. Have a read and send us your feedback.
Faith Again this year we have included faith devotionals as regular blog emails and hope we have encouraged you in your walk of gratitude.
Tell us your Story Read some of the reports we have received from around our Nation as to what people have done for our National Day. You will be surprised at how a simple act of gratitude can mean so much to someone else.