Last week, the High Court ruled against the current funding model of the federal government’s controversial school chaplaincy program. It's just the latest episode in a debate over education, religion and the state that goes back to the colonial era, writes Keri Phillips.
There are two strands to the dispute over education, religion and funding. The first concerns the government funding of private schools, almost all of which are run by or affiliated with religious organisations. The second concerns the place of religious instruction in public schools. Both have been the subject of referenda and legal challenges. The relationship between religion, education and the state has been controversial since the states began introducing compulsory public schooling in the second half of the 19th century. Until then, schools had been largely run by the churches and paid for by the government.
Australia's Ukrainian community has hit out at vandals who sprayed swastikas on the walls of a Ukrainian Catholic church in Sydney.
According to EIN News, the symbols and hate messages were sprayed on the walls of the church in the western Sydney suburb of Lidcombe on Friday night, drawing condemnation from community leaders and politicians.
The chairman of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, Stefan Romaniw, told Fairfax Media Sunday the vandals were "extremist" and that "what's happened in Sydney is inexcusable".
The prime minister has allocated $226 million for more chaplains, all while slashing his country's education budget
According to Salon website, the Australian government’s slash and burn approach to fiscal management doesn’t appear to have stretched to the God Squad.
The right-wing conservatives have so far announced cuts to aged care, education, the environment, science and hospitals, plus introduced controversial new fees for doctor’s visits.
Yet Prime Minister Tony Abbott — a staunch Catholic who opposes gay marriage and once described abortion as “the easy way out” — has somehow managed to find $226 million for a school chaplaincy service designed to support the “emotional and spiritual wellbeing” of students. That’s like the US government allocating about $2.2 billion, relative to the size of the economy.
By Konrad Marshall
A powerful Christian organisation has threatened a small grassroots parent group with legal action for posting its religious curriculum book online.
The main provider of religious instruction in state schools, Access Ministries, this week warned activists from Fairness in Religion in Schools (FIRIS) to remove a copy of its teaching materials from their website.
Access Ministries, which delivers "Christian Religious Education" to around 90,000 Victorian primary students, contacted FIRIS after learning that a digital copy of its "Launch Red 1" teacher book was available for download.
For more details please check The Age Victoria
Ron Williams is the father of four children at Darling Heights State School in Toowoomba, Queensland. Like many other schools, it has a chaplain funded by the federal government. Williams took objection to this, saying taxpayers should not pay for a religious position in a state school.
Williams has taken the remarkable step of fighting for his beliefs all the way to the High Court. On Monday, his legal team will argue before the court that the chaplaincy scheme is unconstitutional.
The case is the most anticipated of the year. If Williams succeeds, the court may not only strike down the chaplaincy scheme, but also hundreds of other federal programs worth billions of dollars. The result could rewrite the book on how the Commonwealth and the states spend public money.
The battle against the chaplaincy program has spanned several years. Williams first challenged the scheme in the High Court in 2010. He argued then that the program breached the separation of church and state and, in particular, section 116 of the constitution which says "no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth". This argument failed.