CCRESS Media Releases

Thursday, 18th September 2014


Special Religious Education is a Strength of Public Education

Greens MP John Kaye has again sought to misrepresent the role of Special Religious Education (SRE).

SRE in Government schools is not evangelisation, it is religious education. There is a clear difference between the two.

Approved providers of SRE deliver approved curriculums via trained volunteers to students who attend classes with their parents’ permission.

Catholic Dioceses around NSW have around 5000 volunteers who weekly see around 95,000 students from our faith tradition. Other Christian providers also see similarly large numbers of students each week.

Our colleagues from many other faith traditions including Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish and Hindu providers, also make this choice available for families who come from these faith traditions.

Importantly, those from non-faith families similarly have the choice of non-SRE and the option of going to Special Education in Ethics (SEE) classes.

SRE is not compulsory. Parents have the option to send their sons and daughters for Religious Education in the faith tradition of their family. SRE gives substance to the United Nations declaration on Human Rights regarding parental choice to educate their children in accordance with their conscientiously held religious beliefs.

The fact the majority of parents elect to send their children to SRE is a clear indication that in our multicultural, multi-faith society, SRE is a strength of Public Education. Rather than being removed from Public Education, SRE in NSW should be strengthened and held up as a best practice model of inclusive, diverse religious education.

Mr Jude Hennessy
Media and Government Relations
On behalf of CCRESS Executive

Download PDF Version of this Media Release

Friday, 11th November 2011



Since the changes in the legislation regarding the provision of Special Religious Education in State Schools in December 2010, the Catholic Church as a provider of SRE has moved to coexist and cooperate with ethics teachers in the schools where  ethics classes have been introduced. 
The Hon Rev Fred Nile’s action to remove Ethics classes is no doubt an expression of his strong support for Special Religious Education in State Schools. However, the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools (CCRESS) regards this action as being counter-productive to the good work done by thousands of SRE teachers. 
The Catholic SRE curriculum delivers an ethical framework based upon a relationship with a loving God who is the source of goodness and truth. Nevertheless, CCRESS respects the right of parents of students in NSW State Schools to opt out of SRE classes and to choose ethics as an alternative to non-scripture.  
At its meeting this week CCRESS, the organising body of the major provider of SRE in NSW has re-affirmed its position not to support this action to remove ethics classes as an alternative to non-scripture.

Mr Jude Hennessy
CCRESS Liaison Officer 

Download PDF Version of this Media Release

Thursday, 21st July 2011


The Position that the Catholic Church took last year has largely been vindicated in regard to ethics classes. Certainly the Catholic Church in league with other key denominations and Faith traditions were firm in our opposition to them, and the attempt to run any other nonreligion program that competed with SRE classes. While viewing ethics classes as something that was potentially a valuable addition to the curriculum if taught well, we were adamant that any ethics classes should be open to all students at a time that did not compete with SRE. It is old news that the battle was fought but unfortunately lost and much has happened in the interim. While Rev Nile’s desire to remove Ethics classes is no doubt an expression of his strong support for Special Religious Education in State Schools, the Executive of the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools (CCRESS) along with leaders in numerous other denominations, would regard it at this point as being counter-productive to the good work done by SRE teachers in schools.

Throughout 2010 CCRESS suggested that we thought it would prove very difficult for the proponents of ethics classes to get the volunteers to teach. For this reason, we did not envisage that the impact would be huge on our classes. Similarly, parents who send their kids to Catholic SRE, would largely be aware that ethics are woven throughout the Catholic curriculum framework, an ethical system based on an understanding that that there is a loving God who is the source of goodness and truth. With all the hype around ethics classes and the massive support it received in the media, the proponents of ethics classes have struggled to get adequate volunteers to teach their program and are functioning in small number of schools across the state. The demand for Catholic Curriculum materials has actually increased in 2011, and if anything, the ethics debate has only spurred more people to join the ranks of the 12,000 odd SRE volunteers. To put it plainly, the implementation of ethics classes in a limited number of school communities has had little impact on the teaching of SRE.

Certainly many faith groups we were disappointed when the former Labor Government chose to change the legislation and push through ethics classes last year, in the face of many good arguments that were largely ignored. It left the Coalition in a difficult position after they had initially suggested they would stop ethics classes in the lead up to the March 2011 election.

It is wonderful to see that Rev Fred Nile is continuing to highlight the important place and contribution of SRE in Government Schools, but at this point the implementation of ethics classes has progressed too far to warrant this action. The Directors of Catholic SRE from around NSW remain confident that the support of families around the State for SRE will continue to see the teaching of SRE thrive, and have a positive impact through the formation of young people in the faith tradition of their families, and as good citizens. In the same way, we are confident that the Coalition has picked up on the massive amount of support that exists for faith formation in schools via the SRE program.

Mr Jude Hennessy
CCRESS Liaison Officer 

Download PDF Version of this Media Release