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Pages tagged "ACL New South Wales"
NSW hopes for new era of public confidence in politics damaged
· February 03, 2011 11:00 AM
For Release: 3rd February 2011
The NSW community’s hope the election might usher in a new era of public confidence in politics was in doubt today with the Opposition breaking a key election promise before the election has even occurred.
The Australian Christian Lobby’s NSW Director David Hutt said the Christian constituency was extremely disappointed that the Opposition had backed away from its commitment to scrap ethics classes which compete directly with Scripture in Schools.
“ACL has always said that if ethics classes are so important, they should be available to all students and that they should not compete with and undermine Scripture in Schools.
“We had welcomed the Opposition’s previous commitment to scrap the ethics classes should they win Government and we cannot understand why they have now retreated from this.
“There is now absolutely nothing separating the Coalition from NSW Labor and the Greens on this issue, although we hope if the Liberals win power they will at least amend the legislation to ensure a flawed ethics syllabus is not used to undermine Scripture.
“Many people were looking forward to having a choice between the major parties on this issue as they head to the ballot box.
“Across NSW many people have been hoping an election might usher in a new era of public confidence in State Government. This backflip means politicians will have to work even harder to restore trust with the community.”
NSW Government legislates ethics classes in competition with Scripture
· December 02, 2010 11:00 AM
The NSW Government yesterday pushed legislation through both houses of parliament which is
aimed at ensuring
that ethics classes are run in competition with Scripture classes in NSW schools even if the Opposition wins the election next March.
The move followed on from the NSW Opposition’s announcement on November 23 that they would scrap the St James Ethics Centre’s secular ethics classes if they won office – a decision which was welcomed by the ACL.
NSW Education Minister Verity Firth introduced the amendment to the Education Act which takes the policy decision about whether ethics classes should be held out of the hands of future Ministers by specifying in legislation that schools are able to offer ethics classes to students who opt out of Scripture.
This was a cynical response which effectively tries to disenfranchise the many concerned community members who might choose to vote for a change on this issue. However the NSW Opposition appears to be maintaining its resolve to remove the ethics classes at the end of next year (allowing any classes already in place at the election to see out the school year).
ACL is not opposed to the idea of children being taught ethics in schools but we have strong reservations about the ethics syllabus and are concerned that the ethics classes – something all children should be able to attend – are to be run in competition with Scripture classes.
Weighing up the merits of ‘non-judgemental’ ethics classes
· December 01, 2010 11:00 AM
What is the point of a “non-judgemental” ethics course? That’s the question posed by ACL’s NSW Director David Hutt writing on the
With the NSW Government moving to legislate ethics classes in competition with Scripture classes in NSW primary schools, David says it is time to ask some more probing questions about the merit of a non-judgemental approach to ethics.
For example, who will be funding the course? How will St James guarantee its volunteer teachers won’t just be teaching their own brand of ethics? Given that teachers who participated in the trial believed there were no “right or wrong” answers, how will Dr Longstaff (the head of the St James Ethics Centre) guarantee we won’t just be teaching kids moral relativism? Click
to read the full article.
ACL welcomes passing of legislation to make Easter Sunday a public holiday
· November 25, 2010 11:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today welcomed the overnight passage of legislation making Easter Sunday a public holiday in New South Wales.
ACL’s NSW Director, David Hutt, said the addition of a public holiday on Easter Sunday meant more people would be able to celebrate Easter Sunday with family and friends.
“The Australian Christian Lobby congratulates the Keneally Government for this initiative,” Mr Hutt said.
“Easter Sunday is one of the most important days on the Christian calendar and it is wonderful to see that people will now be able to spend this day celebrating with friends and family.”
Mr Hutt noted that support for the changes was bipartisan, again demonstrating the importance of creating a public holiday for Easter Sunday.
ACL congratulates NSW Opposition for policy on Special Religious Education
· November 23, 2010 11:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today congratulated the NSW Opposition for making a stand to protect Special Religious Education Classes (SRE).
ACL’s NSW Director David Hutt welcomed the announcement by the NSW Opposition that they will scrap the St James Ethics Centre’s secular ethics classes if they win the March 2011 state election.
“I would like to congratulate the NSW Opposition for showing leadership on this issue,” Mr Hutt said. “This decision guarantees a bright future for SRE – an important part of the NSW education system.
“Of course no one is opposed to the idea of children being taught ethics in schools however the St James Ethics Centre’s proposal was unworkable and put ethics classes – something all children should be able to attend – in competition with SRE. This meant that children attending SRE would be unable to attend both SRE and ethics classes.
“However we also have very strong reservations about the ethics syllabus. We note the Education Minister had to intervene on the eve of the trial and remove controversial material about terrorist hijackings and designer babies from the Year 5 and 6 syllabus. Many schools also banned lessons on graffiti,” he said.
“ACL welcomes today’s announcement by the Opposition. There is now a clear choice for voters on this issue in the lead up to the March election.”
NSW Opposition urged to safeguard Scripture classes if they win office
· November 23, 2010 11:00 AM
NSW Government’s decision
to roll-out ethics classes in primary schools next year actively discriminates against children of faith who will not be able to attend both special religious education (SRE) and ethics classes and also risks undermining a system of teaching SRE which has operated effectively for more than a century, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said today.
ACL today expressed deep concern about Cabinet’s decision and urged the Opposition to reverse this decision and safeguard the special place of SRE in NSW schools if it wins office next March.
“If ethics classes are to be taught in NSW schools then they should be rolled out for all children – and be based on a program which conforms to community standards,” ACL NSW Director David Hutt said.
“The Government should not be discriminating against children of faith who will not be able to attend both SRE and ethics but should run the ethics classes with the aid of professionals at a separate time within the general curriculum.”
Mr Hutt said the ACL also has deep reservations about not only how the St James Ethics Centre is going to recruit the large numbers of volunteers needed to run the ethics classes, but also the ability of the volunteers to effectively teach something as philosophically complex as ethics.
“For over 100 years, thousands of volunteers have given of their time to teach SRE in NSW schools each week – with successive governments safeguarding the role of SRE by not allowing other classes to be run in competition with it,” he said.
“It is extremely disappointing to see the NSW Government forgoing that role and we call on the NSW Opposition to reverse their decision if they come to office next year.”
Roll-out of NSW ethics classes a “hot button” issue for Christians
· November 22, 2010 11:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today urged the NSW Government not to
rubber-stamp the roll-out of ethics classes
in competition with Scripture classes – saying this is a “hot button” issue for the Christian constituency.
“Cabinet needs to understand the depth of concern in the Christian constituency and in the community generally about the introduction of ethics classes in the Special Religious Education (SRE) time-slot – undermining a system that has worked effectively for more than 100 years,” ACL NSW Director David Hutt said.
“ACL supports the teaching of ethics and values in schools but we are very concerned that ethics classes are to be run in direct competition with SRE classes in primary schools – meaning students have to choose between the two and SRE students will be forced to forgo ethics teaching,” he said.
“There are also valid questions about whether the course material for ethics classes conforms to community standards on ethics. For example, I think most parents would be shocked to learn the St James Ethics Centre’s ethics classes don’t actually teach the difference between right and wrong. In fact some Principals involved in the trial expressed concern that there seemed to be no right or wrong answers in the course.”
Mr Hutt said that SRE represents one of the largest volunteer efforts in NSW, with an estimated 12,000 volunteer teachers giving up their time each week across the state to teach SRE.
“Earlier this year ACL collected over 50,000 signatures on a petition which called on the NSW Government to protect the place of SRE in schools and reschedule the proposed ethics classes to another time slot.”
Mr Hutt said he will be writing to churches that participated in the petition, thanking them for their hard work and informing them of any developments on the issue.
Facts about Education Minister Verity Firth’s trial ethics classes
• The classes were rejected by 1 in 3 non-SRE students.
• There were not enough volunteers to staff ten schools for a ten week trial. The shortfall had to be made up by teachers from the DET.
• The Education Minister was forced to intervene at the last minute and removed controversial course content on terrorist hijackings and designer babies from the Year 5-6 classes.
• A number of principals involved in the trial were concerned the classes contained no ‘right or wrong’ answers.
• A report into the trial found that a roll-out of ethics classes will draw heavily on the resources of the Education Department.
Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979
Christian lobby calls for a rethink on NSW brothel laws
· November 12, 2010 11:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today called on the NSW Government to rethink its failed brothel laws with the aim of ending the exploitation of women in the sex trade and protecting the amenity and character of local communities.
ACL’s spokesperson on women’s issues, Michelle Pearse, said
newly released information
from the Government Interagency Brothels Taskforce confirmed that the sex trade is out of control in NSW – not only damaging communities but doing tremendous harm to the women and children caught up in the exploding industry.
“Legislation to decriminalise brothels 15 years ago and then regulate them just as a planning issue has been a complete failure which – as we have been saying for some time – has led to a massive expansion in the sex trade, which in turn has devastating effects on women and children as well as increasing sex trafficking to Sydney,” Ms Pearse said.
“It is time for the NSW Government to completely review these laws – giving councils the right to ban brothels for social concerns and considering better ways of managing prostitution such as the successful ‘Swedish model’.
“The current situation in NSW is solely catering to the interests of pimps, brothel owners and men who buy women for sex. Behind the scenes the story is one of women facing appalling exploitation and sexual violence, underage girls having their lives ruined and sex slaves being brought to Sydney to cater to the increased demand.
“By marked contrast the ‘Swedish model’ provides a far better alternative. It has been shown to significantly reduce the number of women involved in prostitution and the number of men purchasing sex.”
Ms Pearse said that Sweden came to realise that legalising the sex trade had resulted in a major increase in the number of women being trafficked into the country. By 1999 the Swedish Government dramatically altered its position by taking the view that buying sex promotes exploitation and is violence against women. The Government therefore decided to criminalise the purchase of sex and the ownership of brothels.
“The new laws saw the number of women involved in prostitution cut by two-thirds, reduced the number of men buying sex by 80 per cent, and led to a huge drop in the number of women trafficked into the country for sexual purposes,” Ms Pearse said.
“This is the way of the future for jurisdictions who want to see an end to the exploitation and crime which go hand-in-hand with decriminalised brothels. We strongly urge the NSW Government to review the State’s brothel laws and give close consideration to the Swedish model.”
NSW parliament passes surrogacy law
· November 11, 2010 11:00 AM
Last night the NSW Government’s
Surrogacy Bill 2010
was passed by the NSW Legislative Assembly.
While the often strong desire of people to have children is fully understandable, ACL does not support surrogacy because of concerns for the welfare of children born through surrogacy arrangements and also for the mental and physical health of birth mothers.
Whilst, it is extraordinary to think that surrogacy has been largely unregulated in NSW for such a long period of time, the Surrogacy Bill does not go far enough to protect the rights of children to be raised by a mother and a father.
If the Government is to regulate surrogacy then we urge them to ensure that children have the benefit of the love and role models of both a mother and a father – something we believe there is broad community support for.
NSW Review recognises life of unborn child in compensation law but not criminal law
· November 01, 2010 11:00 AM
When is an unborn baby entitled to protection?
A review of NSW laws surrounding criminal actions which result in the death of an unborn child has been looking at this.
However, the review failed to recommend any specific offence of ‘killing an unborn child’ or to extend the definition of manslaughter to cover this situation.
But it did suggest amending the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1995 to include the loss of a foetus - so as to provide compensation to victims who lose an unborn child. It also recommends the Government establish a scheme to cover the funeral costs of a stillborn child lost as a result of a criminal act.
Earlier this year the NSW Government appointed retired Supreme Court Justice Michael Campbell to conduct the review following the tragic death of baby ‘Zoe’ at seven months gestation after her mother Brodie Donegan was hit on the footpath by an allegedly drug-affected driver on the Central Coast on Christmas Day.
Central to the Campbell Review was the assessment of existing NSW legislation, known as Byron's Law, that enables police to charge an alleged offender with grievous bodily harm even if a woman suffers no other long term injury other than the death of her foetus.
ACL made a submission to the review in July and recommended the addition of the offence of ‘killing an unborn child’ to “operate alongside, and in addition to, the offence of grievous bodily harm as it presently relates to the death of an unborn child.”
Other pro-life groups such as the ‘Life Marriage and Family Centre’ also made submissions to the review, as did pro-abortion groups such as the ‘Women’s Abortion Action Campaign’.
Disappointingly the Review decided not to take an important step forward in better recognising the death of an unborn child in NSW criminal law as being more than just an injury to the mother. This is all the more ironic given that the Review is apparently willing to see compensation provided in this situation for the loss of the child – and even the funding of funeral costs. One has to ask why the life of an unborn child can be recognised in some NSW laws but not others?
Obviously the contradiction arises because the Review and the Government are seeking to avoid any controversy about abortion laws. As ACL stated in our submission:
“ACL understands that this review is framed in such a way as to avoid the controversies of the debate about abortion, but the parliament, and the people it represents, must inevitably face the contradictions in the treatment of the unborn by the law, which is entirely dependent on the subjective perception and feelings of the relevant parties towards each individual child. Until such contradictions are resolved, it will be difficult to answer satisfactorily the question of how to protect unborn children for the purposes of criminal law.”
to read the Campbell Report and
to read a news article on the review.
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