When government-funded education was founded in Australia in the 19th century, it was established on the basis that education should be ‘universal, secular and free’. In spite of the Australian Constitution, it seems we have abandoned all these principles.

“The internationally recognised right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion does not provide for the religious indoctrination of children in schools”, said Secular Party spokesperson John Perkins. “On the contrary, religious indoctrination suppresses children’s right to freedom of thought”, he said.

A recent report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that there was a critical need for education about religion, rather than instruction in religion. The report acknowledged that religions are divisive. “How can Australia’s system of government-funded, religiously segregated schools possibly promote social harmony?”, Dr Perkins asks.

Human knowledge has increased to a vast extent since religious schools were established in Australia. It is high time that the whole system of government-funded religion in schools was reassessed. In its submission to the government’s Review of Funding for Schooling: Emerging Issues Paper, the Secular Party stated: “To receive funding, schools should not endorse, assist, or promote the advancement of particular religions.”

Reason and rationality, combined with universal principles such as compassion, honesty, freedom and justice, provide an ethical framework that is equal to, if not better than, that provided by any religion.

View the subission to the schools funding inquiry

Apr 5, 2011