The Christian Democratic Party is the only party in the NSW Upper House has made it their top priority to protect SRE.
Last week, the NSW Teacher’s Federation announced that they will seek to amend the 1990 Education Act to remove scripture, Special Religious Education, (SRE) from NSW Public Schools. It saddens me that once again we are having to fight for students to be able to access such a vital program.
The NSW Department of Education procedures states:
Parents/caregivers can choose to enrol their child into SRE from the school’s available approved provider(s) or to withdraw their child from SRE. Students withdrawn from SRE engage in alternative meaningful activities or SEE where available.
It is concerning that the NSW Teacher’s Federation seeks to remove a program, which is optional, from NSW schools. Students who do not participate in SRE have the option for Special Education in Ethics (SEE) or other meaningful activities. The NSW Teacher’s Federation alleges students are not offered other meaningful activities – This is not accurate.
In NSW, we are seeing a mental health crisis in children and young people. In 2017, a report by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute found that 1 in 4 Australian teenagers have a probable serious mental illness, which is an increase of 20% in 5 years. We see 1 in 10 children under 5 experiencing emotional or behavioural disturbances. To add to this, the rate of suicide has reached a 10-year high in 15 to 24 year olds nationwide. Suicide is now the leading cause of death in those aged 5 to 17 year olds. These figures are alarming and heartbreaking. I believe now more than ever we need the good news of hope.
I believe the more support we give our youth and young people, the better equipped they are to handle stress and difficult family situations, particularly for those experiencing, or at risk of, poor mental health. I believe those in educational fields are best placed to recognise the early warning signs because of the relationships they have with school-aged children. At a time when suicide and mental health disorders are at their highest, why would we want to reduce children’s access to this vital support system? Particularly when we know that seeking help reduces the rates of suicide and that early intervention works.
The Christian Democratic Party (CDP) is the only party in the NSW Upper House has made it their top priority to protect Scripture (SRE). The CDP agrees with the Wellbeing Framework for Schools and the importance of students being connected to their cultural, religious or spiritual backgrounds. SRE helps facilitate this goal as it allows school-aged children to connect with religious providers from various faith groups; it helps to provide a well-rounded education for our students; and helps to create schools that promote and respect multiculturalism and different faith groups.
That is why we believe so strongly in Scripture (SRE) and will continue to work closely with Christian communities across NSW to fight to ensure Scripture stays in NSW schools. No other political party makes them such a high priority on their election policy agenda.