Queensland Education Act 1875 – 2006
In the 1860s, the settlement of Moreton Bay ceased being a part of New South Wales and moved to become a new State, Queensland. This required a whole new system of government to be established, including the creation of a new public school system, freed from the embrace of the Christian churches.
In 1875, the first Queensland Education Act was created, providing for free, compulsory and secular public education. The Queensland schools were truly secular, not allowing any religious materials onto the school grounds at all, and requiring the school teacher to teach only secular material. Queensland enjoyed the best secular public school system in Australia.
Faith schools continued to operate, but Christians from the Bible Society were not satisfied and insisted they should be able to impose their religious views and dogma on public school students during school time.
In 1910, the Queensland Government held a referendum to ask selected electors, because the electoral franchise did not extend then as far is it does today, whether Religious Instruction, to be given by the local priest, vicar or pastor, and Bible lessons, to be given by the government school teacher, should be introduced to public schools. The Roman Catholic church leaders opposed the referendum, but it was won by a small margin.
The 1910 referendum YES/NO question was worded:
Are you in favour of introducing the following system into State Schools, namely:
The State Schoolmaster, in school hours, teaches selected Bible lessons from a reading book provided for the purpose, but is not allowed to give sectarian teaching:
Any minister of religion is entitled, in school hours, to give the children of his own denomination an hour’s religious instruction on such day or days as the school committee can arrange for:
Any parent is entitled to withdraw his child from all religious teaching if he chooses to do so?
The results were.. Yes: 74,228. No: 56,681. Informal: 7,651. Wording reflecting the above outcome, including the reading of ‘selected Bible lessons’ by teachers, remains in the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Act and Regulation to this day.
Since 1910, or for the last one hundred years, Queensland public schools have not been secular. This is because in the same year, in order to allow State school teachers to teach selected Bible lessons within Queensland public schools as per the 1910 referendum outcome, the 1875 Education Act was amended, and every mention of the word secular was deleted.
For the same purpose, a vital clause was also deleted from the 1875 Queensland Education Act:
Below is all reference to Religious Instruction and Bible Lessons contained within the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Act 2006. Sections relevant to correct placement into religious instruction are displayed in blue:
Chapter 5 Religious instruction
76 Religious instruction in school hours
(1) Any minister of a religious denomination or society, or an accredited representative of a religious denomination or society, which representative has been approved by the Minister for the purpose, shall be entitled during school hours to give to the students in attendance at a State school who are members of the denomination or society of which the person is a minister or the accredited representative religious instruction in accordance with regulations prescribed in that behalf during a period not exceeding 1 hour in each week on such day as the principal of that school appoints.
(2) Instruction in accordance with a regulation may be given in State primary and special schools during school hours in selected Bible lessons.
(3) A separate reading book shall be provided for such purpose.
(4) Instruction of a kind mentioned in subsection (2) is not to include any teaching in the distinctive tenets or doctrines of any religious denomination, society or sect.
(5) Notwithstanding anything in this section, any parent of a student in attendance at a State school may withdraw such student from all religious instruction in such school by notification in writing to the principal that the parent desires the student to be so withdrawn.
(6) The provisions pursuant to this section shall not apply or extend to students enrolled in the preparatory year at a State school.
Below is all reference to Religious Instruction and Bible Lessons contained within the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Regulation 2006. Sections relevant to correct placement into religious instruction are displayed in blue:
Part 5 Religious instruction
25 Application for approval of representative
An application under section 76(1) of the Act for approval as an accredited representative must be in writing.
26 Approval to be produced
If asked by the principal of a State school, an accredited representative at the State school must produce an approval given to the representative under section 76(1) of the Act.
27 Authorised religious instruction
A minister of religion or an accredited representative may give only religious instruction approved by the religious denomination or religious society the minister or accredited representative represents.
28 Time for religious instruction
The principal of a State school must fix the day on which religious instruction is given each week.
29 Students to attend religious instruction
(1) The principal of a State school must not allow a student to attend religious instruction given by a minister of religion or an accredited representative other than the denomination or society of which the student is a member, unless the student’s parent has given written consent.
(2) However, students may attend classes arranged for students of more than 1 denomination or society by agreement of the ministers of the denominations or societies concerned.
30 Bringing and leaving sectarian publications on State school premises
(1) A person other than a minister of religion or accredited representative must not bring onto, or use on, State school premises any denominational or society publication.
(2) A minister of religion or accredited representative must not leave on State school premises any denominational or society publication used by the minister of religion or accredited representative for religious instruction.
31 Students withdrawn from religious instruction
The principal of a State school must arrange for a student who has been withdrawn from all religious instruction by the student’s parent to receive other instruction in a separate location during the period arranged for religious instruction.
32 Register of ministers and accredited representatives
The principal of a State school must keep a register of the ministers of religion or accredited representatives who attend the school and the dates and times of the ministers’ or representatives’ attendance.
33 Selected Bible lessons
The principal of a State primary or State special school may arrange a period of one-half hour a week for religious instruction in selected Bible lessons.