Frequently Asked Questions
Q. RI or RE or Scripture?
RI is known by various other names around the country, but in QLD its correct designation is Religious Instruction (RI), as per the establishing legislation. CRI is the abbreviation for Christian Religious Instruction, as any established and recognised faith community can teach RI in Qld State Schools.
For many years RI was referred to as RE but this was changed sometime in the 2000's when someone noticed an inconsistency with the terminology in the legislation.
Q. Why can we teach RI in Qld State Schools?
The Education Act allows recognised faith groups to teach children of families identifying with that faith group, as well as those who opt in. It’s all about parent choice!
The history of RI in Queensland is that a referendum was held in 1910 and the majority of Queenslanders voted yes for it! It was championed by Canon David Garland the man who is also the architect of ANZAC Day in Australia! There is a memorial in his honour at Kangaroo Point Cliffs in Brisbane.
Q. Isn’t Australia a ‘Secular’ country? Shouldn’t we separate Church and State and therefore have no RI in Schools?
The historic meaning of ‘secular’ is quite different to today’s popular meaning. Secular meant that no one ‘sect’ or belief could dominate all others. It is precisely because we are ‘Secular’ that any established and recognised faith system can be part of the RI system in state Schools.
Correctly understood, ‘Secular’ means freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Removing 'religion' from State Schools would do the opposite of what 'Secular' sought to achieve.
Q. Is CRI Proselytizing?
CRI is about informing students of the values and history of the Christian faith as part of a holistic education. Students are not coerced to change their view, they learn about the basic beliefs of the Christian faith as explained in the Bible and what it means to be a Christian.
Faith groups can form ‘cooperatives’ where two or more denominations choose to teach RI and the teachings common to the various denominations representing the Christian faith together. Over 90% of RI is delivered in this way in Qld.*
Q. Who funds CRI?
Funding models vary across the state but funding is typically provided or supplemented by local churches, instructors, volunteers, and parents.
Q. Who Instructs CRI?
State school teachers do not run CRI, although they remain in the classroom to supervise. Clergy and volunteers who have been approved and trained by local churches run the CRI program which is overseen by an appointed RI coordinator. The faith groups ensure instructors are competent and receive ongoing training and supervision. The ‘average’ CRI volunteer is a mum with a professional background, [25% are qualified teachers!*] People from all ages and walks of life are involved in CRI. All Instructors must possess a Blue Card and complete school orientation and mandatory induction training including Student Protection and Code of Conduct.
Q. Is CRI Compulsory?
No, CRI is ‘Opt In’. Parents are asked to indicate on their child’s enrolment form what RI class they want their children in, if any. Parents are also free to enrol or withdraw their child or children at any point during their schooling by simply informing the school of their wishes in writing. In Qld state primary schools the majority of parents opt their children into RI where the program is on offer.
Q. Who writes CRI material?
In the majority of cases, CRI curriculum is written by central bodies that have been set up to do this professionally and with educational expertise. All CRI material is approved by the local churches providing the program as it is taught under their authority. The curriculum used for Christian Cooperative RI is interdenominational, focusing on the aspects of the Christian faith that Christian denominations have in common.
The Department of Education does not provide the content as it is faith bodies instructing children in their identified faith. However the materials must comply with departmental polices and procedures.
Q. What do children not opting into the program do during RI?
Children in ‘non-religion’ are supervised in a separate area and are given meaningful work to do that can review, consolidate, or build on previous work but, given that not all children are present, they do not commence new class work.
* Result of a survey of 750 RI Instructors carried out across Qld in 2017 by QCRIN.