The Review of the Connect Religious Instruction materials holds RI providers to account for the content and appropriateness of their programs. For too long what goes on in RI classes has flown under the radar of parents and the Department.
We welcome the recommendations, particularly the need for principals to be vigilant about appropriate permission being in place for RI attendance and the strengthening of informed parental consent.
We note, however, that improvement in policy compliance will depend on the willingness of the Department to monitor and enforce it.
Though outside the scope of the review, we are encouraged to see the review has flagged that consideration of the legislation may be warranted to examine whether it meets contemporary community and government expectations, illustrated by examples of elements out of step with current expectations around student protection, animal ethics, disability and indigenous students. The question also remains whether allocating valuable learning time to the delivery of doctrinal religious instruction is a privilege that has reached its use-by-date now that 106 years has passed since it was first legislated and society is vastly different in terms of cultural and religious diversity.
The review has not addressed all of our concerns about Connect and policy, particularly the issue of proselytising which we feel warrants more in depth consideration in terms of definition and policy, and we will be commenting further about these over the next week and corresponding with the Department.