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Australian Secular Lobby Media Release Sex allegations in NSCP and questions on DEEWR support for developing a Bible course in evangelism for state schools: Garrett needs to respond
22 May 2011 Mr. Hugh Wilson, national spokesperson for the Australian Secular Lobby, has called on Schools Minister, Mr. Peter Garrett, to explain himself to the Australian public on two vital issues. “Mr Garrett needs to let public school parents know what he is doing about recent sexual misbehaviour and rape allegations made against a school chaplain, and to explain why his department, DEEWR, has been working with Scripture Union Queensland to develop a Bible based evangelism resource for use in state schools, to be delivered by NSCP funded chaplains” Mr. Wilson said. “The Australian Secular Lobby recently forwarded allegations of sexual misconduct and rape to DEEWR and Minister Garrett, including a series of questions concerning apparent Departmental inaction on these sex allegations, and other related matters,” Mr. Wilson said. “The person making the sex allegations has advised the ASL that they have been reported to the police and the concerns have also been emailed by them to DEEWR quite some time ago, but nothing has been heard back from DEEWR,” Mr. Wilson said. “Also, given the recent accusations against Victoria’s ACCESS Ministry chaplaincy group, and Minister Garrett’s assurance of a DEEWR review of ACCESS aims, objectives and behaviours, the Australian Secular Lobby is wondering how Minister Garrett and DEEWR can be simultaneously engaged in co-developing a Bible based evangelism resource for use by NSCP funded chaplains in public schools with Scripture Union, who also operate in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. “Scripture Union Queensland has been openly boasting of DEEWRs involvement in their new ‘Daniel Quest’ Bible evangelism resource. The Daniel Quest is a course for Christian children 11 to 13 years old. The 12-week course is divided into two six-week blocks with a deliberate term break in between. SU Qld has worked closely with DEEWR in the writing and publishing of this resource.

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“Last week, the Australian Secular Lobby wrote to Minister Garrett asking for an explanation, after receiving a complaint from a Bundaberg public school parent. “Strangely, both the Scripture Union Queensland ‘Daniel Quest’ web page and the Bundaberg school web page covering the ‘Daniel Quest’ Bible evangelism course, have just been pulled from the web,” Mr. Wilson said. “Did Minister Garrett or his DEEWR officials give Scripture Union and Education Queensland a tip-off concerning the ASL enquiry, and if so, why?” Mr. Wilson asked. “While Ms. Gillard and other supporters of school chaplains suggest they should be “the Salvo’s of the schoolyard”, the Salvation Army has been busy apologising to Australians for decades of child abuse, so any sex allegations against school chaplains cannot afford to be airbrushed away, either by the Schools Minister or his officials as “just an isolated incident,” Mr. Wilson said. “The recent Budget increase in NSCP funding for school chaplains, another $222 million, without any firm rules governing how they are to behave with students, is a very dangerous and short-sighted path to be taking when so much is known about child abuse involving authority figures, particularly those working within religious organisations,” Mr. Wilson said. “The Australian Secular Lobby also wrote to Education Queensland, in 2010, alerting them to claims made by a school chaplain that he took students home with him to stay the weekend, and the Minister’s response indicated that he was not the least bit concerned about this, or that school chaplains are encouraged to visit students in their homes, alone,” Mr Wilson said. …ends. Further comment: Hugh Wilson: 0420 676 578 asl@australiansecularlobby.com

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