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Catholicism in Australia

             Explain how changes in society generally contributed to the developments in religious educational approaches adopted by Australian Catholic primary schools.
             The first Catholic School opened in Parramatta in 1804, because the only other schools that were open were run by the Church of England, and Catholics objected to Anglican domination. When the school closed in 1805, it was due to lack of government funding, and it was not until 1820, when Fr John Joseph Therry was able to establish "parish" schools for those of the Catholic faith. 10 years later, the Australian government made it easier by giving out small grants to buy land for establishing schools. These schools were staffed by lay-preachers, and by 1870, the grants became more common. In 1872, the Victorian government passed the "Free, Secular and Compulsory" Education Act, which created public schools, and the funding for the private, religion-based schools ceased. This was hard on both Catholic and Anglican faiths. In 1885, the Plenary Council was held, and Bishops were advised to encourage (or pressure) Catholic families to send their children to Catholic schools. In keeping with the council, the proposal that "no Catholic child will be denied a Catholic education" came about. To emphasise this proposal, whenever a new parish was established, the first thing to be built was the school, and not the Church. These Catholic schools had a very important role in teaching catechesis, prayer and practices to Catholic children, with strict discipline and little personal freedom. These schools held a doctrinal and devotional approach in their curriculum, with rote learning and practice devotions, utilising workbooks, Bible history, stories of the lives of Saints, and praying the Mass. However, as the C20th progressed, catechesis became more student oriented, with Gerard Rummery differentiating between catechism and Religious Education.

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