Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has vowed to give parents a right to “choice” in respect to their children’s religious education if the Coalition is elected later this month.
Mr Guy told The Catholic Weekly he believes “parental choice” in Victoria’s public education system is “very important.”
He said he would reintroduce religious instruction classes in Victoria’s public schools on an “opt-in” basis.
“When it comes to education, more choice means greater opportunities for our children,” Mr Guy said.
“If parents want their children taught specific religious instruction then schools, where practical, should facilitate that choice. Choices would include, but not be limited to, Christianity, and it would operate as an opt-in offer.”
Mr Guy told The Catholic Weekly he would rectify the lack of choice for people of faith in Victoria after the Labor government led by Daniel Andrews had broken its promise not to remove the optional religion classes.
“Four years ago, before the last election, [Premier] Daniel Andrews and Labor candidates promised they wouldn’t remove the option of religious instruction during class times in government schools.
“Daniel Andrews wasted no time in breaking that promise soon after he became Premier,” Mr Guy said.
“After Labor broke that commitment it became clear to us that tens of thousands of Victorian parents not only strongly opposed Labor’s policy but they felt they were deliberately lied to by Daniel Andrews and their local Labor MP just to win their vote.
“A petition of thousands of signatures opposing Labor’s broken promise was tabled in December 2015.”
The Andrew’s government put an end to religious instruction during class time in 2015, replacing it with lessons in respectful relationships, global cultures, ethics and faith education.
Currently, religious classes can only be given for 30 minutes during lunch breaks or outside school hours.
Under Mr Guy Victoria’s Coalition would reinstate religious instruction during class time, so students don’t have to give up their lunch break or their free time in order to attend.
Mr Guy first announced the plan at a recent Australian Christian Lobby pre-election forum at Crossway Baptist Church in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood East.
At the forum Mr Guy declared he was not ashamed of being a Christian and promised his party would also abolish the Safe Schools program.
“A government I lead will bring back religious instruction in schools because it’s very important,” he told those at the forum. The Victorian state election will take place on 24 November 2018.