Renee Cluff

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Cairns Catholic colleges drop religion as a compulsory subject for a year 12 certificate

Year 11 and 12 Catholic students across the Cairns Diocese are no longer required to do religious education to pass their senior studies.

For the first time, the subject won't contribute to students’ Queensland Certificates of Education (QCE) or Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks (ATAR).

Instead, a new Catholic Faith in Action program is being launched to year 11 students in the Cairns Diocese.

It’s the result of a challenge to senior Catholic Education leaders by the Bishop of Cairns, James Foley, to deliver a more dynamic and modern religious education curriculum.

Catholic Education Services Executive Director, Bill Dixon, said the Cairns Diocese is among the early adopters of the program.

“It is my belief that Catholic Faith in Action provides a framework for our Colleges to provide a curriculum that is needed in modern times,” he said.

“At a time when society is becoming increasingly secular, and some people even question the existence of God, there is an even greater need for young people to benefit from a dynamic secondary religious education curriculum.” 

Under the program, faith education will be based on a student’s own life experiences and they’ll be called to action in a way that reflects Catholic social teachings.

While it doesn’t contribute to a student’s QCE or ATAR, accountability measures are in place to ensure meaningful participation.

The program is being launched today, with the Cairns Diocese’s year 11 students converging on St Augustine’s College, where they’ll hear from priest and acclaimed author, lecturer and film critic, Fr Richard Leonard, SJ.

Catholic Education Cairns says colleges will still offer elective courses of religious study, including Study of Religion, Religion and Ethics and Certificate III/IV in Christian Ministry and Theology, which may contribute to a student’s QCE and ATAR.