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Faith leaders have claimed 2019 as ‘the year of values’, and launched a video highlighting the mental health and multicultural benefits of special religious education (SRE) while revealing massive public support for the program.
Landmark research by one of Australia’s most respected independent research companies McCrindle, has found that almost 80 per cent of Australians believe that “schools should be a safe place for students to explore deeper questions of faith and belief”.
Christian SRE spokesperson Murray Norman says the findings are not surprising because families want the choice to explore values that are important to them and their culture in a school environment.
The research comes on the back of a recent global study by two world-renowned academics that confirmed the tangible benefits of SRE to children and the broader community.
Mr Norman said the international study found that SRE improves the mental health of children and promotes cross-cultural harmony.
“SRE is about values, and values should be at the core of every student’s holistic education,” he said.
The McCrindle research also found that close to 93 per cent of those surveyed agree that schools should place a greater emphasis on mental health and wellbeing.
“The academic study showed that SRE plays an important role in promoting the mental health and well-being of children, and this is what Australians expect from our schools.”
It also drew a direct link between SRE and the positive benefits of multiculturalism in resolving cross-cultural conflict.
All-faiths SRE spokesperson Hilit Man said SRE plays an important role by, “reclaiming the values of Australian society that promotes multiculturalism in its true sense.”
She said children are taught to respect each other regardless of differences.
“The foundation for erasing racial tension and conflict must start in our homes but also in the school playground.”
Mr Norman said the findings have compelled Australia’s faith leaders to unite like never before to endorse teaching values.
“We have joined as one to promote SRE to all people because we know it is good for the future well-being of this country and embraces cultural diversity.”