Australian religious education '19th century'

RELIGION and ethics taught from a secular perspective might well be included in the new national curriculum, according to Professor Barry McGaw, head of the board responsible for the curriculum.

Professor McGaw, chairman of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, said religion and ethics would be included in a discussion paper early next year for the civics and citizenship course.

Cable loop lets Melbourne's Orthodox Jews feel at home

SEVERAL kilometres of Melbourne electricity wire and fibre-optic cable have been employed to help fulfil a 3000-year-old religious requirement.

They act as a wall around several thousand Orthodox Jews, enabling them to treat the enclosed area as a metaphorical home, without which they would be housebound on the Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath).

Reading the lesson at site of the sacred open heart

Father Bob Maguire says he's ''a bit sacred-site obsessed''. He thinks his church, St Peter and St Paul's Catholic Church in South Melbourne, the city's oldest parish, is a sacred site.

When I visit, he takes me round the lawn in front of it, introducing me to the various memorials. One is a list of young people who died from drugs or drug-related violence during his early years.

Marriage of equality is a core value for all to hold dear

When my parents married in 1967, Australia was still dismantling the White Australia policy. While a marriage between a Chinese man from Malaysia, and an Australian from the Adelaide Hills was not illegal, it was certainly unusual. Nevertheless, bans on inter-racial marriage were not unknown in Western democracies of the time. That year, the US Supreme Court struck down laws in various American states prohibiting interracial marriage. Changing laws didn't change public opinion; a year later 72 per cent of Americans remained opposed to interracial marriage.

A matter of conscience or convenience?

The PM is out of touch with her party and the country.

Labor Left MPs vow to tackle PM over gay marriage plan

ANGRY Labor left-wing MPs are vowing to fight Julia Gillard's proposal for a conscience vote in Parliament on gay marriage, accusing her of pandering to the party's conservatives.

Victorian senator Gavin Marshall, a factional convener and chairman of the Left group in caucus, said that while there appeared to be a favourable view of conscience votes in the community, in practice it would not be democratic on this issue.

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Labor must do what is just and back same-sex marriage: Gavin Marshall

The party has a historic opportunity to uphold its progressive tradition.

IT'S hard to believe that in 2011 we live in a society where prejudice, discrimination, fear and even hatred directed at same-sex-attracted people still exist.

But attitudes are shifting. As yesterday's polling made clear, most Australians support a change to the Marriage Act. This support is even stronger among Labor voters.

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PM grants conscience vote, dooming gay marriage

JULIA Gillard will back a conscience vote for Labor MPs on gay marriage, as the Age/Nielsen poll shows a growing majority of Australians favour legalising marriage equality.

But in a stand that will deeply disappoint those arguing for change, the Prime Minister also wants opposition to gay marriage to stay in the ALP platform, which will be debated at next month's party conference.

Sixty-two per cent of voters would like to see gay marriage legalised, a rise from 57 per cent a year ago, according to the poll. Thirty-one per cent are opposed, compared with 37 per cent in November 2010.

Giving more students a better chance at school

FOR the first time since 1973, the federal government is reviewing the way schools are funded. An expert panel, headed by David Gonski, is due to report to the government by the end of this year. It has been looking at how resources are distributed, at what is working and at what improvements should be made. In describing her hopes for our schools, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said demography should not equal destiny. The idea here - that every child should have an equal opportunity to excel at school - is worth pursuing.

State backs private schools

THE Baillieu government is backing the campaign by private schools to maintain their share of federal funding, warning that any drop could push up fees and force thousands of families into public schools, costing the state millions of dollars.

As Canberra prepares to overhaul the way schools are subsidised, the government has released figures showing Victorians would be forced to spend an extra $17 million a year for every 1 per cent of students - or 3000 children - who abandon private for public schools.

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