ECAJ discusses national curriculum with education minister

September 1, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has met with the Federal Minister for Education and Youth  Alan Tudge to discuss the national curriculum which is currently under review by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. 

Peter Wertheim

The ECAJ has been in discussion with the Minister about the review since early May and, after consulting with Jewish educators in Sydney and Melbourne, lodged a detailed written submission with ACARA on July 7.

ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim was joined by four colleagues representing the Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities, namely Dr Nada Ghamra-oui, Senior Education Advisor to the Australian National Imams Council, Mr Surinder Jain, Vice President, Hindu Council of Australia, Bishop Chris Edwards, Sydney Anglican Bishop of North Sydney and Mr Murray Norman of Christian SRE, the group’s convenor.

Peter Wertheim said: “The Minister was most sympathetic to the concerns of the group. He encouraged us to continue with our representations to ACARA to achieve key outcomes in the national curriculum which the group identified in the discussion and to consult with his office throughout the process.  The outcomes identified by the group include:

  • the development in students of an understanding of Western civilisation and its Judeo-Christian influence in shaping Australia’s constitutional, legal and political foundations;
  • building anti-prejudice education into key points of the English, History, Science, Geography and Social Sciences curricula from Foundation to Year 10, and into digital literacy skills;
  • consulting with faith communities in Australia as to what is taught about their respective faiths in the general religious education curriculum so as build accurate understanding and awareness of different faiths through general religious education and community partnerships;
  • aligning the curriculum with other applicable policies and frameworks, especially anti-bullying policies, and
  • developing specialised policies and processes to overcome bullying that is motivated by hate and prejudice on the basis of race, religion and other attributes, including antisemitism.”

He added “As we also told the Minister, faith communities should be regarded as a resource for assisting with professional training and development and teaching materials to assist in meeting these objectives.  A process for consulting the Minister and his staff in our work with ACARA on these matters is an extremely important step forward.”

Peter Wertheim also took the opportunity to thank the Minister for engaging with the community about the proposed adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism by Universities.

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