NSW Premier Mike Baird has admitted that his Christian faith means that he will keep special religious education classes in New South Wales schools for as long as he is premier. In late 2015, the NSW Department of Education hired consultants to undertake a review of the SRE classes, including the appropriateness of the material, and consent given by parents. The review was completed in 2015, but the state government has yet to release the report.
The department’s website states the findings and recommendations of the report are still being considered by the department, but at a recent estimates hearing when questioned by Fred Nile, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government “is not changing the policy around scripture classes”.
Baird appears not for turning, either. According to a video recorded by Fairness in Religions in Schools — a group of parents seeking to end SRE during school hours — at a recent event attended by Baird at Werrawee Anglican Church, Baird told the audience that his faith meant religious instruction was here to stay.
“I’m not going to distance what I believe from who I am, and, in that context, I think, SRE should remain as part of our schools and will remain as part of schools while I’m there.”
Baird’s office was contacted for comment, but referred the request to the office of Education Minister Adrian Piccoli. A spokesperson told Crikey the review was still being considered:
“The review is currently being considered by the government and will be released.”
Victoria banned SRE during school hours, and the Queensland government opted to keep SRE with a few minor changes to the course material after it was found to contain “grooming” language to 7-year-olds.