Special Religious Education in Australia and its Value to Contemporary Society

Zehavit Gross, Suzanne D. Rutland

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This book explores the advantages of and challenges concerning Special Religious Education (SRE) in multicultural Australia and argues for the need for General Religious Education (GRE) as well. Through the lens of the most recent scholarship, and drawing on an in-depth qualitative study and specific case studies, the book examines the current debate on the role of religious education within government schools. It addresses key concepts of values education, spirituality, health and wellbeing, and cultural and religious identity. It analyses why it is important to retain SRE, together with GRE, as government policy. It explores highly relevant, controversial and contested issues regarding SRE, including the 30% of Australia's population who declare themselves as having "no religion", and brings fresh insights to the table. While secularization has increased in both the national and international spheres, there has also been an increase in fundamentalism within religious beliefs. Events such as the September 11 terror attacks and the more recent mass shootings by white supremacists and eco-fascists in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Pittsburgh and San Diego in the USA are reminders that religion is still a major actor in the twenty-first century. This poses new challenges for the relationship between church and state, and demonstrates the need to revisit the role of religious education within government schools. While the importance of GRE is generally acknowledged, SRE has increasingly come under attack by some researchers and teacher and parent bodies as being inappropriate and contradictory to the values of the postmodern world. On the other hand, the key stakeholders from all the faith traditions in Australia wish to retain the SRE classes in government schools. The book addresses this burning issue, and shows that it is relevant not only for Australia but also globally.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages276
ISBN (Electronic)9783030679699
ISBN (Print)9783030679682
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021. All rights reserved.


  • Confessional religious education in Australia
  • Health and wellbeing in government schools
  • Historical background of SRE in Australia
  • Multiculturalism in Australia
  • Pedagogy within SRE classes
  • Religious education in government schools
  • Religious values in Australian schools
  • SRE classes in government schools
  • SRE in postmodern world
  • SRE's contribution to social cohesion
  • Structure of SRE in Australia
  • Teaching care and compassion in SRE


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