As one of the providers of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in Victorian schools, ACCESS ministries is following with interest the current Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing involving Aitken & Others versus the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).

The VCAT hearing has been brought on by a small, secularist group, predominately inner-urban, who want to impose their views on the rest of the community.

Their claim that SRI forces religion on children is a myth designed to scare the community.

SRI enjoys broad community support, 70 per cent of whom describe themselves as being of religion.

The 2006 Education and Training Reform Act, which prescribes the teaching of SRI in schools, was preceded by wide community consultation, including questions about the presence of voluntary SRI programs in schools.

Both the legislation itself and the record of Hansard show clear community support for the presence of voluntary SRI programs in Victorian government schools.

In cooperation with local communities and volunteers, ACCESS ministries' provision of SRI classes currently extends to over 117,000 students in over 850 Victorian government primary schools across the length and breadth of Victoria.

The current arrangements for SRI provide every opportunity for parents to make a decision about their child’s participation in SRI guided by their own beliefs and conscience.

SRI has always been a voluntary program and the decision to attend SRI is already entirely a matter for parents.
ACCESS ministries has always respected parents' right to decide whether their child participates.
ACCESS ministries has always worked within the legislation and guidelines provided by DEECD in the conduct of SRI classes.

ACCESS ministries respects and supports all the faiths that participate in the SRI programs offered in schools, including Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i, and Islam.
In the ACCESS ministries SRI program, students learn about the teachings and values of the Christian faith, such as loving your neighbour, being a ‘Good Samaritan’ & caring for others, caring for our world, and personal responsibility.

ACCESS ministries is an interdenominational organisation supported by 12 Christian Churches, including the Anglican Church, Australian Christian Churches, Baptist Union, Christian Brethren Fellowships of Vic, Christian Reformed Churches, Churches of Christ in Australia, CRC International, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church, Salvation Army, Uniting Church, Wesleyan Methodist Church. Our SRI instructors are drawn from all Christian denominations.

Canon Dr Evonne Paddison
ACCESS ministries

Please direct media enquiries to:
Denise Nicholls
1800 063 341



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