Following yesterday’s announcement by the federal government that it will ask the states to administer their own chaplaincy budgets, the Australian Sex Party has challenged both the Victorian Liberal and Labor parties to channel the funds into sex and relationship education for students instead.

In 2010 The Victorian Treasury costed the Sex Party’s sex education policy and found that for as little as $6million, a sex education curriculum could be provided to all schools for four years.

Sex Party President and Upper House candidate for the upcoming state election, Fiona Patten, said that the High Court had made a decision on chaplains which happened to oppose the personal religious beliefs of the Prime Minister. “Like a man possessed, he is now seeking out any avenue to impose his religious beliefs on the nation’s school children”, she said. “By any reasonable account this is just religious indoctrination disguised as pastoral care”.

Ms Patten said that school children would be much better served in their adult lives by learning how to have a safe and informed sex life and a better background in creating a loving relationship, than they would by learning about religion. “The High Court found that what the federal government was proposing was unconstitutional and affirmed that Australia does have some constitutional separation of church and state”, she said.

She called for mandatory, comprehensive sex education, focusing in early years on issues of safety, body image and self esteem through initiatives in later years aimed at reducing STIs and teen pregnancy. The Sex Party is pushing for comprehensive educational reforms aimed at promoting ethics and political education, replacing chaplains with qualified counselling and psychology professionals, requiring private schools which receive public funding to abide strictly by anti-discrimination legislation, and giving more power to schools to respond to the specific needs of their communities.

“The federal government is trying to give hundreds of millions of dollars to inculcate Christian religious values in schools and we’re leaving behind notions of civics, ethics, teaching democratic values — even things as basic as how the government works”.