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Religious groups are allowed to provide dogmatic religious instruction to primary students in government schools. Is this acceptable in secular Australia? A sustained campaign against this practice from parents, educators and academics has long argued it is not. A new report from Liberty Victoria agrees, arguing that the ‘Special Religious Instruction’ program is a human rights law issue.
This report, prepared with Young Liberty for Law Reform, considers the Special Religious Instruction (SRI) program currently implemented in many Victorian government schools.
Section I of the Report looks at the program’s legal basis, the main providers of SRI, those groups opposed to the program and their reasons for opposition, as well as some of the legal controversies that have developed in recent years.
Section II considers the SRI program in light of Victorian human rights law, and considers possible violations of that law that might follow from the program’s current legislative form and practical implementation.
Section III concludes the report with an analysis of the SRI program in terms of Australia’s human rights obligations under international human rights law. This analysis is aided by a review of relevant case law from the European Court of Human Rights.