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NSW AND SOUTH AUSTRALIA BACK ALAN TUDGE IN CURRICULUM WAR

By Australian Newsletter

The states are preparing to go to battle over a new national school curriculum, with NSW and South Australia (SA) joining the federal Education Minister in signalling their unwillingness to endorse some of the more contentious changes. Australia’s largest state has firmed in its opposition in recent days, with NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell advising party colleagues that she would not support the document in its current draft form.  Ms Mitchell told a party room meeting that she was unimpressed by the draft curriculum’s ongoing support for unscientific practices for teaching reading and its promotion of inquiry learning in mathematics, both of which are contrary to NSW’s approaches.

SA Education Minister John Gardner has also indicated unease over elements of the draft documents, suggesting he shared similar concerns to federal Education Minister Alan Tudge regarding a push to promote Indigenous perspectives throughout the curriculum while at the same time downgrading the study of the humanities, including history and the study of Western civilisation. Mr Gardner said “It is important that in our desire to highlight Aboriginal history, stories and song-lines, we mustn’t lose perspective on the historical and philosophical roots of our successful liberal democracy. “No other structure of government in the world gives such freedom and agency to its people, and if we don’t give sufficient weight to the foundations of our successful liberal democracy then we put at risk those freedoms.

It’s impossible to please everyone and it’s tricky to get the balance right, but some improvements in this area are important.” The revised curriculum, developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has already prompted a significant backlash, reigniting the so-called history wars and reading wars and sparking debate about the ongoing influence of the theory of constructivism, which promotes student-led inquiry learning over explicit teaching, in schools. Mr Gardner also confirmed that SA would continue to focus on “evidence-based approaches to reading instruction”, particularly the role of phonics in developing children’s letter-sound knowledge and decoding skills, despite the draft curriculum’s continued support of balanced literacy, including predictable texts that encourage children to guess unfamiliar words.

“It would be in the best interests of other jurisdictions to do the same, but we won’t be distracted from the trajectory of improvement we are on,” Gardner said. NSW, which educates more than 1.2 million schoolchildren, has also recently dumped balanced literacy in favour of phonics, with its own recent curriculum review highlighting the importance of “evidence-based teaching” to develop children’s mathematics knowledge and skills in the first few years of primary school. Ms Mitchell has previously been vocal about her desire to ensure that NSW schools adopted evidence-based teaching practices, is understood to have reassured party room colleagues that the proposed changes were still in draft form and there was an opportunity for significant alterations before it came before ministers for consideration.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF QUEENSLAND IN RECEIVERSHIP

By Australian Newsletter

The Presbyterian Church of Queensland’s legal entity has been placed in receivership. The church said it had applied to the Supreme Court of Queensland to place its legal entity, PCQ a Letters Patent Entity (PCQ) – into receivership. Moderator of the PCQ, Reverend Dr Philip Strong, said the decision to enter receivership was regrettable but necessary to ensure that PCQ can continue providing important services to the Queensland community for the long term. “While our team has worked hard for more than a year to restructure the operations, historical contractual arrangements have made this extremely challenging. While making the decision to appoint a receiver is a difficult one, we believe it is the best next step,” Reverend Dr Strong said.

Rev Strong went on “I know that this announcement will be unexpected for our congregations, employees, residents, students and the community. Our priority has always been and will continue to be their wellbeing.” PwC Australia’s (PwC) Michael Owen and Phil Carter were appointed receivers of PCQ’s legal entity by the Supreme Court of Queensland. “Our immediate priority is to work  constructively with PCQ and its stakeholders while we undertake a review of the entity’s affairs pursuant to the Court order,” Mr Owen said. “We plan to continue to operate the services that PCQ provides across the community on a ‘business as usual’ basis while we conduct this review, and we will update stakeholders further once this initial assessment has been completed.”

PCQ’s aged care facilities, schools, congregations and other community services will continue operating while the receivers undertake their assessment. Together with the congregations, PCQ’s ministries include PresCare, a provider of residential aged care and Presbyterian ministry services, the Queensland Theological College (QTC) and Fairholme College, a school in Toowoomba. PresCare recently contracted the sale of its residential aged care facilities in Maryborough and Rockhampton to the Apollo Care Alliance.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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OH GOD REND THE HEAVENS AND HEAL YOUR CRIPPLED CHURCH AND OUR DYING NATION

By Feature Articles

This short but highly pertinent article is presented this month as our feature article. It was written by Pastor Shane Idleman from Westside Christian Fellowship in America for that nation’s National Day of Prayer.

I’m sure we can all agree that evil surrounds us in America and other western nations. Daily we are bombarded by reports of heinous crimes and lawlessness being committed throughout our lands. How can Christians not only remain peaceful and hopeful during these turbulent times but also dare to anticipate revival, perhaps a Third Great Awakening? I believe we can. But we must be willing to wait on God and seek Him like never before because “He acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:4). This type of waiting expects something to happen and waits patiently for it. When we wait and pray, anger doesn’t influence us, impatience doesn’t drive us, impulse doesn’t derail us, and fear doesn’t stop us. The disciples prayed in the upper room until heaven opened and the Spirit came down. The filling of the Holy Spirit forever changed them. They were hungry for more of God. Can you say the same?

If we are to expect God to heal our crippled churches and our dying nations, we must pray like Isaiah, “Oh God, rend the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 64:1). And like the woman in the parable of the unjust judge, we must keep asking (Luke 18:1–8). Prayer must be brought back into our churches, real prayer that searches the soul and penetrates the heart. Many years ago, a very old man who experienced a revival when he was younger was asked why the revival ended. His eyes were filled with holy fire when he cried, “When you lay hold of God, never, never, never, never let go!” Let his burden be a warning as well as a reminder to never let go.

When you were first born again, you had this fire, didn’t you? And then life happened. Prayer and reading the Word gradually became an afterthought. Yet nationwide revival begins with personal revival, believers one by one begin to seek God again, and before long, there are family revivals and then church-wide revivals and then community revivals. Yes, it can happen, but the seeds must be planted by individual members of the body. In other words, it begins with you. Are we welcoming this type of downpour in our churches and positioning ourselves for a downpour of God’s Spirit, or are we extinguishing it because of pride, sin, doubt, unbelief, and prayerlessness? It’s time to break up our fallow ground and seek the Lord while He still may be found (Hosea 10:12). We provide the sacrifice; He provides the fire.

Source: Pastor Shane Idleman from Westside Christian Fellowship in America

AUSTRALIANS GO ONLINE OR TURN TO FRIENDS OR FAMILY FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS OF FAITH

By Australian Newsletter

Australians are most likely to go to friends and family (52%) or online (48%) to find answers to questions they have about faith, belief and spirituality a new study has found. The poll, conducted by McCrindle Research on behalf of Alpha Australia also found that 1 in 9 Australians have wanted a conversation about Christianity in the past year, but have not been engaged. The study, which surveyed 1,000 Australian adults, found that as well as approaching family and friends for answers, online communities (18%) and online content such as videos, talks and sermons (30%) were a key source of insight in their spiritual journey. Melinda Dwight, National Director of Alpha Australia says, “We have known for years the important role close relationships, such as friends and family have played in spiritual formation. But to see more than half of Australians would reach out to those close to them, is a significant reminder.

In these past 12 months as our lives have been disrupted, we have seen that the exploration of faith has continued through online connection.” The survey also found that almost half of Australians (45%) had had a conversation about faith and beliefs with a Christian in the past 12 months. 1 in 9 Australians said they had wanted to have a conversation about Christianity but had not engaged with someone (11%).  Izzy Marshall this year won the 2021 Young Australian of the Year – receiving her award from Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Marshall is an advocate for Alpha and has seen how it’s led to honest discussions about her faith and faith in general in today’s society, she says, “You just need to host an Alpha and start a conversation. You don’t need an outcome, it just sparks an intellectual conversation, in a non-judgmental space.

Marshall went on “When I have hosted Alpha sessions with my friends, I have always been surprised at just how open they have been to hear and discuss issues of faith. It has never been about converting them, it was more about sharing why Christianity and faith is so important to me and the difference it has made in my life.” A recent study found that 4 in 10 Australians were either extremely (20%) or very (18%) open to exploring different faiths and spiritual views and that younger Australians were more likely to be extremely or very open to these conversations (50% Gen Z, 44% Gen Y  39% Gen X, 25% Baby Boomers; 31% Builders). Millions of people around the world have attended Alpha and despite recent reports of Christianity in decline in Australia in recent decades, Alpha Australia has seen over 500,000 attending since it launched.

Dwight concludes, “The results of the survey show that while we have often felt isolated and disconnected, many have continued to share their faith. The fact that 1 in 10 Australians didn’t have the conversation but were keen to do so, shows there remains a great opportunity for churches and for Christians across the country to talk to those in their families, neighbourhoods and workplaces about what the good news means for them.” Millions of people have tried Alpha all around the world, and it has been translated into over 100 different languages. Developed as a short course at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, in 1990 Nicky Gumbel took over running Alpha and found that many people outside of the church wanted to explore the Christian faith. Alpha now runs in every part of the global church, including the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and all mainline Protestant denominations.

Source: Jersey Road Press

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CONVERSION THERAPY LAWS ARE COMING TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA

By Australian Newsletter

The March 13 landslide election victory in Western Australia has delivered 53 seats out of 59 in the Legislative Assembly to Labor, and in the Legislative Council Labor has 22 out of 36 seats in the Legislative Council.  This will allow Labor to push through its legislative agenda, which on the opening of parliament was announced to include banning so called “gay conversion therapy.” The Labor Government has indicated it plans to ban gay conversion therapy through implementation of the National Code of Conduct for unregulated health workers. The main targets of conversion therapy legislation are Christian counselors, Christian therapists and Christian support groups, we expect the Government will legislate to make pastors and counselors subject to this code.

However, in September last year the Hon Alannah Clohesy said: “Separate legislation, similar to Victoria’s, could be considered in the future if the national code of conduct was not effective in preventing gay conversion therapy.” Prior to the election, Premier McGowan refused to rule out introducing legislation similar to the Victorian Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021. As a result, Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) WA State Coordinator, Peter Abetz along with James Parker of True Identity, held dozens of events to highlight the draconian and freedom-destroying nature of this law.

Last week over 500 people participated in two webinars that included the powerful testimonies of local people, who through counselling, spiritual help, and therapy, have been able to leave behind their LGBT identity. The ACL will shortly launch a campaign to inform MPs that many people have left behind their LGBT identity through counselling, therapy and spiritual help. We must ensure that the legislation does not remove the right of people experiencing unwanted same sex attraction or gender dysphoria from being allowed to access life changing ‘therapies’ of their choice.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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