Education about Religions and Beliefs in Victoria


  • Anna Halafoff Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation Deakin University



interreligious relations, religions education, religion and state relations, social inclusion, countering extremism


While the role of religion in Australian schools has been vigorously debated since the 1870s, it has recently generated considerable controversy, particularly in the state of Victoria. This article provides a historical analysis of religious instruction (RI) in Victorian schools, particularly drawing on the 1974 Russell Report’s review of RI programs. It then focusses on more recent developments, notably the 2010 Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) case, Aitken and Others vs. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, which has reignited the ‘religion in schools debate’. Based on recommendations of the Russell Report and a number of recent Australian studies in this field, this article argues that a more inclusive model of education about religions and beliefs (ERB) is required for Australia’s Government schools to meet the needs of its increasingly multifaith and secular society. This research also suggests that ERB programs can be effective strategies for countering prejudices and building socially inclusive societies.

Author Biography

Anna Halafoff, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation Deakin University

Dr Anna Halafoff is a Lecturer in Sociology, and a member of the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, at Deakin University. Previously, Anna was an Associate Lecturer at the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University in 2011–2012. She was also a researcher for the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations Asia Pacic, and the Global Terrorism Research Centre, at Monash University from 2005–2012. Anna holds degrees from Monash University (PhD 2010), the University of New England (Master of Letters in Peace Studies 2000 and Grad. Dip. Ed. 2005) and the University of Melbourne (BA 1991). She has published one sole-authored book, The Multifaith Movement and Common Security (Springer, 2013) and one co edited book, Terrorism and Social Exclusion: Misplaced Risk—Common Security (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010). Her work has also featured in a number of journals including: Political Theology; Studies of Conflict and Terrorism; the Journal of Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations; the Journal of Global Buddhism; the Journal of Religious Education and the Journal of Research in International Education. In 2011, Anna was named a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations' Global Expert in the elds of multifaith relations, and religion and peacebuilding. She remains an Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations—Asia Pacic, at Monash University.



How to Cite

Halafoff, A. (2013). Education about Religions and Beliefs in Victoria. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 26(2), 172–197.




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