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AUSTRALIAN NEWS 15th November 2017

Sent: Wednesday 15/Nov/2017 Topic: National

CONCERNS AS IDENTITY POLITICS CREEP INTO THE CLASSROOM

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

 English students face being drilled in the politics of class, race, gender and sexuality, as an influential teacher advocacy group seeks to push social justice issues into the classroom. The Victorian Association for the Teaching of English (VATE), a professional body backed by the state government, will host its annual conference this month, unveiling a program to highlight "the iconoclasts, the dissidents and the marginalised" and celebrate individuals "who will not, or cannot, swim in the mainstream". Headlining the two-day event will be former Australian Human Rights Commission president ­Gillian Triggs and GetUp! campaigner Shen Narayanasamy, who will deliver keynote speeches. Left-leaning political commentator Van Badham will also appear as a guest speaker.

 

The focus of the event, which VATE president Emily Frawley confirmed had been designed with social justice in mind, has alarmed some education experts, who have questioned the role of "political activists" at the event and the push to embed divisive "identity politics" into the curriculum. Sessions include "Stand Up For The Outsiders", which will explore teaching strategies for "empowering students to speak to issues of class, gender and race", and "We Want Gender Equality", on "how the plight of woman over time has not changed". There will also be a discussion of Jeanette Winterson's 1987 novel The Passion, which is billed as "post modernism, queer theory and a romping tale to boot", while "Reflections On Growing Up Different In Australia" will look at migration, racism and identity in various texts.

 

Another session will advise teachers how to deliver the Victorian government's Respectful Relationships program, a family violence initiative criticised for pushing gender theory onto children, through English texts in the middle years. Details of the conference have emerged in the wake of research by the Institute of Public Affairs that pointed to a rise of identity politics in university history courses. The IPA's Western civilisation program director Bella d'Abrera questioned what "political activists" were doing at a conference "about English teaching to schoolchildren". "This conferences shows that identity politics has not also permeated the teaching of history in Australian universities, but it is also deeply embedded in English teaching in Victorian secondary schools," Dr d'Abrera said. "There is no place for identity politics in our classrooms.

 

 Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly said it was disappointing to see teachers emphasise ideology over good grammar, spelling, punctuation and literary appreciation. "Instead of English teaching being about giving a balanced view of literature, it's now more about offering a critique of society, particularly Western society, misogyny, inequality and capitalism," Dr Donnelly said. "A lot of kids leave school without a strong foundation of what is good or bad literature." Dr Donnelly, a former English teacher and one-time member of VATE, said the association appeared to have been captured by the left. Ms Frawley defended the conference, which had always "traversed the educational, cultural, political landscape". This year's event would feature "diverse line-up of presenters", she said.

 

"The brief of all presenters is to speak to the themes of the conference, drawing on their expertise and considering their audience," Ms Frawley said. "We want English teachers to be engaged and challenged, to consider how they can best stand up for their students, and what the role of English content and pedagogy is here." Ms Frawley confirmed that the organisation received funds from the department for a range of programs, but the conference itself was not government-funded.

 

 

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ROYAL COMMISSION JUSTICE WARNS CHURCHES TO CHANGE OR RISK ILLEGITIMACY

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Every major Australian church has been cautioned to better protect children or risk illegitimacy. In a speech to the National Council of Churches, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse chairman Justice Peter McClellan urged religious leaders to act on his recommendations. "What we can be certain of is that any institution which does not acknowledge past wrongs and the need for change will lose the confidence of Australians," he said via a recorded video. "The community will not accept the legitimacy of any institution which does not give priority to the safety and wellbeing of the children for which it has responsibility." Justice McClellan detailed the exhaustive work of Australia's largest royal commission, which has examined 1.2 million documents and heard evidence from more than 1,200 witnesses over 440 sitting days.
 

Fifty-nine per cent of abuse reported to the royal commission has come from within religious institutions. Justice McClellan revealed the commission had referred 2,025 cases to police and other authorities but only 127 have been acted upon. "The volume of referrals is so great it will take some time before all the matters are processed and prosecutions commenced," Justice McClellan said. The chairman detailed the necessity for a national redress scheme, outlining the Australian Government's preferred "opt-in" system for payment to survivors. "The commissioners understand that many churches and religious groups have indicated that they are positively disposed to the Commonwealth's scheme," Justice McClellan said. "This is very pleasing to hear."

 

The royal commission has released dozens of public issues papers and recommendations over the past 2 years. Justice McClellan stressed to the National Council of Churches the need for reporting abuse. "Failure to report abuse to the authorities may leave a child, or perhaps a number of children, exposed to abuse," Justice McClellan explained. "Reporting offences may be particularly important in an institutional context. Institutions may be conflicted. "Imposing criminal liability for failure to report is likely to encourage reporting despite the damage this may inflict on the institution's reputation." NSW and Victoria already have laws against concealing child sex crimes. "The royal commission is considering whether it should recommend that other states and territories follow the lead of New South Wales and Victoria, and if so, what might be the appropriate terms of that offence," Justice McClellan said.

 

Data reveals 7% of Australian priests working between 1950 and 2009 have been accused of child sex crimes. Justice McClellan is convinced the royal commission will make Australian children safer. "I am often asked by people whether I believe that much will change as a result of the royal commission," he told church leaders. "My response is that whilst there may be some people who resent the intrusion by the royal commission into their institution, the overwhelming response has been positive." The commission is moving towards completing its work in December, and Justice McClellan said he wanted to ensure all institutions remained included in the conversation. "The royal commission's work has changed the conversation about child sexual abuse in Australia," he said. "Institutions must make the changes necessary to ensure, as far as may be possible, children are not abused in the future."
 

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AD CAMPAIGN SAFE FOR SCHOOLS BUT NOT TV

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

 A television advertisement rolled out towards the end of the "No" campaign by the Coalition for Marriage was deemed unacceptable for general viewing, with the commercial television body declaring passages attributed to the controversial Safe Schools education program can only be aired late in the evening. Free TV advised the Coalition for Marriage that the commercial warranted an "MA" classification due to depictions of implied sexual activity and verbal sexual references" and can air only after 8.30pm, or a film classified as "G" or "PG". The 30-second commercial, featured footage of Safe Schools founder Roz Ward speaking at a same-sex marriage rally, and included passages from the Safe School-endorsed OMG I'm Trans and OMG I'm Queer resources, which are available from the Victorian Department of Education and on the websites of some South Australian schools.

 

The passages include "penis-in-vagina sex is not the only sex and certainly not the ultimate sex, and "it's a total lie that all guys have penises,  that all girls have vaginas", which appear on the screen as text. The Coalition for Marriage tried to point out to Free TV's commercial advice arm that the passages had been lifted directly from learning materials approved by various state governments and taught to students from Years 7 upwards. However, it was told the organisation was independent of governments and under the definitions of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice the material was not appropriate for viewing by minors. Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton said he was disappointed by Free TV's stance given the topical nature of the advertisement.

 

"It is beyond belief that taxpayer-funded LGBTIQ sex and gender education materials openly made available to students of all ages are given an MA rating for television," Mr Shelton said. "The issue of these materials, of parents' rights, and the direct relationship with changing the Marriage Act are there for all to see, and parents should beware." While the Coalition for Marriage has been heavily criticised for arguing that legalising same-sex marriage would lead to an extensive rollout of Safe Schools-style "radical" sexuality and gender diversity education programs in schools, Mr Shelton said evidence was mounting to support the supposition. "Just this week we have seen footage of the British Prime Minister saying that after redefining marriage they would be pressing ahead with LGBTIQ and gender education in all British schools," he said, referring to comments Theresa May made.

 

Free TV, the industry body representing Australia's commercial free-to-air television licensees, was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when an ad celebrating Father's Day was deemed "political" ahead of the same-sex marriage plebiscite. That was criticised as "political correctness gone mad" by politicians, but Free TV blamed the ad's creator, not-for-profit group Dads4Kids, for the ad not running, saying they were asked to add an identification tag declaring political content and refused to do so.

 

 

 

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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Source: Australian Prayer Network

There are three serious issues facing 3 different Parliaments over the next couple of days. We encourage your prayers on each.
 

FEDERAL PARLIAMENT

By the time many of you read this newsletter the result of the voting on the Plebiscite on same-sex marriage will be known. If the "NO" vote succeeds we will give thanks to God for His grace and mercy in moving the hearts of the people of Australia to vote against the watering down of what marriage is really about.  If the "YES" vote wins we begin the campaign to preserve religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech to ensure they are not lost in the freedom that same-sex couples will be given to marry.

VICTORIAN PARLIAMENT

The Victorian Upper House is due to resume debate, and possibly vote, on whether to legalise Euthanasia this week. Please keep the matter in your prayers as the Bill has already been passed by the Lower House, and if approved also in the Upper House will become law.

NSW PARLIAMENT

A Bill is expected to be introduced into the NSW Upper House this week to legalise Euthanasia in that State.  The vote is likely to be very close, even down to just 1 or 2 votes. If approved the Bill will be referred to the Lower House where it must also be approved before it becomes law. Please pray for the defeat of the Bill in the Upper House which will put an end to the process without it having to be voted on by the Lower House. There are three serious issues facing 3 different Parliaments over the next couple of days. We encourage your prayers on each.

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