The idea for an ethics-based course as an alternative to scripture classes developed from parent demand. In 2003, a group of parents along with the NSW Federation of P&C Associations approached the St James Ethics Centre to create a specialised course. The St James Ethics Centre presented the idea to then Premier the Hon Bob Carr MP, who referred the request to then Minister for Education Andrew Refshauge. He indicated there was not sufficient demand from the community to justify introduction of this type of course.
A survey conducted in 2004 by the NSW Federation of P&C Associations indicated otherwise. The parent community showed there was strong and widespread support for an ethics-based course as an option for children not attending scripture classes. With this new research evidence, the NSW Federation of P&C Associations together with St James Ethics Centre again presented the idea for an ethics-based course to then Education Minister Carmel Tebbett. Surprisingly, and despite overwhelming community support, the idea was again rejected.
In 2009, a draft curriculum for an ethics-based course was presented to both the then Premier, Nathan Rees and the Education Minister, Verity Firth. They approved the proposal to conduct a pilot program for an ethics–based course complement to scripture in 10 NSW public primary schools which is currently being trialled (term 2, 2010).
For more details about the background to the development of the ethics course, read http://www.ethics.org.au/living-ethics/towards-ethics-based-complement-scripture-nsw-primary-schools