QPSSS is happy to provide the template below for Queensland parents to use in order to contact their state MP regarding the provision of Religious Instruction in Queensland state schools. We understand that it is more effective if you personalise your letter by editing as you see fit, but if you don't wish to do that, simply cut and paste the letter below into your email. To find the contact details of your local member, click on this link.
Dear [insert state representative’s name]
I am writing to you regarding the provision of religious instruction (RI) in Queensland state schools.
It is my understanding that legislation allows religious groups to provide doctrinal instruction to students within a school community that have been identified upon enrolment as being affiliated with their religion (and denomination) for up to one hour per week. Policy prohibits children who do not participate from continuing with their regular school work, meaning that up to 8 days/year of learning time is lost. Against this backdrop, the irony of the Department of Education running a campaign asserting ‘Every Day Counts’ is not lost on me.
While I support the right of parents to teach their children a religion of their choice, or none if that is their choice, I strongly feel this is not something that the state should be expected to provide a further platform for in addition to the many readily-accessible houses of worship. For me, this is a matter of time and place rather than a commentary about the merits or otherwise of religious belief.
The legislation that allows for RI in state schools was enacted over 100 years ago. Even though society then was vastly different than it is today, it is notable that the concerns expressed at that time about this legislation echo those we still hear today.
Given the increased, and still-increasing, religious and cultural diversity of both our state school populations and the population in general, I fail to see how segregating children according to religion to allow volunteers to instruct them in mutually exclusive doctrines assists in nurturing the mutual understanding and tolerance of the people with which they share our nation. It would be far better that a syllabus about multiple religions and non-religious worldviews be developed by education professionals and taught by qualified teachers to all students.
Furthermore, confusion and uncertainty about policy, particularly the compulsion to make a decision about RI participation at enrolment despite the lack of provision of comprehensive information about religious instruction programs, means parents are often unaware of exactly what RI is and what it is they are signing their child up for. Another by-product of this is that children are sometimes placed in RI classes without parental consent. Parents place their trust in the school without knowing the school has virtually no say over content and that the department provides almost no oversight on policy compliance.
For the reasons outlined above, I ask that you consider amending legislation to at least move RI to the hours before or after school, if not remove it altogether.