ACL Submissions on Foreign Aid and the Australian Curriculum
ACL made two submissions last week, one on foreign aid and one the national curriculum.
The curriculum review is still accepting submissions until March 14 – click here for more information.
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee is currently inquiring into Australia’s overseas aid and development assistance program in light of the government’s cuts to the overseas aid budget.
ACL made a submission condemning the foreign aid budget cuts of $4.5 billion over four years. Instead of being reduced, overseas aid should be increased in line with Australia’s commitment to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. One of these goals is for developed nations to contribute 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) to overseas aid. Australia currently contributes about half of this, 0.36 per cent.
After the Labor Government delayed increases to foreign aid multiple times, this further drastic reduction by the Coalition Government is yet another blow to Australia’s commitments to help the world’s poorest people.
Professor Ken Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly have been appointed to lead a review of the new Australian Curriculum. ACL made a submission calling for a greater and fairer emphasis on Australia’s Christian and European heritage. While Asian, Indigenous, and sustainability issues are valuable in modern Australia, they should not be emphasised at the expense of the European and Christian influences that have dominated Australia’s history.
The submission also highlighted the importance of freedom and flexibility for Christian schools. It is important that the national curriculum avoid mandating too much time and focus on curriculum content at the expense of the complementary activities such as assembly and special religious instruction provided by individual faith-based schools.
Perhaps most significantly, ACL’s submission also emphasised a need for Bible literacy. The Bible has had a significant influence on Western history and must be understood to have a full understanding of Australia’s culture, history, arts, politics, and law. Christians and non-Christians both argue for a greater Biblical literacy in schools.
As Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke argues, this is not about forcing Christian doctrine on all students, but is about:
teaching the Bible in the same way that you teach scales for learning a musical instrument, or the colour palette for painting. It’s necessary to the whole task of understanding what is going on in our culture, literature, and history.
A report on the foreign aid inquiry is due March 20. Click here to read ACL’s submission.
The deadline to make a submission to the Australian Curriculum inquiry has been extended to March 14. Click here for more information about making a submission, and click here to read ACL’s submission.