Anglican Archbishop sways NSW Premier on ethics

Following a meeting with Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen, Premier Morris Iemma has announced that ethics classes will not become an alternative to religious education in NSW.

"Special religious education (SRE) is provided for under the Education Act 1990 and the Government has no plans to change this section of the Act," Mr Iemma said.

"School time is set aside for SRE. Other subjects, including 'ethics', do not constitute a religion and cannot be provided during this time. The Department of Education and Training has advised that the provision of any subject during time set aside for SRE would breach the agreement between the government and the churches."

Premier Iemma, whose comments were reported on sydneyanglicans.net, also acknowledged Dr Jensen's concerns about the lack of support for people with a mental illness, admitting that successive governments failed to implement the recommendations of the Richmond report.

He said the State Government is committed to fixing mental health problems and last month announced a $52million funding boost towards housing and accommodation.

But Malcolm Bloomfield, Program Manager at Anglicare Surry Hills who works with many mentally ill people isn't convinced.

"It's not addressing the problem from 1982, when thousand hundreds of thousand of people were released with the promise of community support and accommodation, which wasn't there."

Meanwhile the Premier rejected Dr Jensen's criticism of overcrowding in NSW prisons.

"There is no doubt inmate population has risen dramatically over the past 10 years from around 6,000 in the mid 1990s to over 9,000. But the figures on operational beds do not give evidence to the claim of overcrowding."

Mr Iemma said he hopes this initial meeting will be the start of a frank and honest relationship between his government and Sydney Diocese built on 'mutual trust and respect'.

"I found Dr Jensen to be an articulate and reasoned voice for Anglicans in Sydney, and a man of deep spirituality and scholarship. I am deeply grateful for the prayers and support of Sydney's Anglican community and hope that with God's help I will provide wise and diligent governance."

Premier swayed by Archbishop on ethics (sydneyanglicans.net 29/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Special Religious Education (NSW Department of Education and Training)
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

Differing seniors' curriculum 'chaotic' (ABC News 29/5/06)
School break-in: teens arrested with shotgun (Sydney Morning Herald 25/5/06)
Teachers to rebel over new reports (The Age 26/5/06)

30 May 2006