Australian schools are replacing Religious Education with lessons on 'respectful relationships'

Religious education is to be removed after accusations of proselytising by secular groups

Religious instruction is to be scrapped from some Australian state schools and replaced with classes on 'respectful relationships.'

The Government believes that it is better to remove religion from regular school hours to allow time for a new class teaching "global cultures, traditions, ethics and faiths."

"It is the right thing to do," said education minister James Merlino.

"This new content helps all school students, regardless of their background or faith, to understand the world around them and the ideas and values that shape that world," he said.

A Christian group, who are the leading providers of SRI, has condemned the decision as "hastily made and poorly advised".

A spokesman from Access Ministries told Guardian Australia "nobody has seen this new curriculum as yet, and I'm not sure how a primary school teacher will teach well and capably the basic beliefs of the five major religions."

However a group which has been campaigning against SRI welcomed the decision as a victory.

"We won, we got what we wanted," Lara Wood, CEO for Fairness in Religions in Schools said.

Religious instruction providers were proselytising in primary schools while students missed out on learning, she went on to say.

"Kids who do take part in the program are being told they will go to hell if they don't believe in God, and we had a report of one child last year being locked in a closet while taking part in religious education."

Addressing gender inequality would comprise an important aspect of the new relationships curriculum, the minister for the prevention of family violence, Fiona Richardson, said.

"We're including it in the curriculum so that every Victorian school teaches students these important skills and lessons."

The relationships education program will aim to prevent family violence and help children to appreciate diversity, proponents believe.

Lifestyle