Newsletter – July 2016

Welcome to our newsletter for July 2016!

This month we remember John Kaye, take time to meet the crew at Killarney Public School and have a chat with Marbecc Webb an extraordinary volunteer from Camden.

We are also offering an opportunity to WIN tickets to the next IQ2 debate ‘Boomers owe a debt to the young’.

Good luck!

A Message from the Chair

Primary Ethics received international recognition in May as the United States Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues handed down its report. This 8 year-long commission examined how democratic societies should make decisions about complex ethical issues in health care, technology and research. The report recommended ethics education from an early age and singled out the Primary Ethics program as unique in the world due to the dual benefits of introducing primary school children to ethics as well as broader community exposure to ethics through volunteer involvement. This recognition is an extraordinary endorsement of both the work of our curriculum author, Dr Sue Knight, and the quality of the lessons we are delivering to children. I feel immensely proud of Sue and all our volunteers who make these lessons a reality for so many children.

In May we conducted our first ethics class census. The information gathered has given us our most reliable insight yet into activity at the school level. I am so very grateful to all our volunteer teachers for providing this information and to our General Manager, Alisa Kelley, for managing this significant project. We now know that there are 32,727 students attending ethics classes each week. The community effort to bring classes to this many students is wonderful. We estimate that the time contribution by our volunteer ethics teachers alone is around 8,000 hours each school week. This is a significant contribution to the community, particularly when we consider the longer term aims of our program – for ethics students to become informed and inquiring adults who are willing to discuss ethical issues with those around them in a well-reasoned, productive and respectful way.

We also know that we are delivering ethics classes in over 400 schools. Our curriculum  covers from Kindergarten to Year 6 and is divided into 4 stages. In the schools delivering ethics lessons, over 60% offer ethics classes across at least 3 of the 4 school stages. This is due to the efforts of our volunteer ethics coordinators and regional managers in liaising and negotiating with schools as well as inspiring and recruiting new volunteer teachers. It is very important for parents who choose ethics for their child that our lessons are available for each year of primary school. Any gaps in the availability of lessons in a school not only reduces the benefits of the curriculum for the children but creates an administrative burden for both the school and parents in exiting and returning to ethics lessons. We have made it one of our key priorities to focus on filling in the gaps in the schools where we are already providing ethics lessons.

Our new CEO, Leonie Johnson, commenced in April and her primary focus is to ensure all our volunteers are well supported in their roles. She is looking forward to meeting with and hearing from our volunteers to find the best way to ensure their experience with Primary Ethics is both fulfilling and enjoyable.

Bruce Hogan AM – Chair

Vale – John Kaye 

23 October 1955 – 2 May 2016

John Kaye

It is with great sadness we acknowledge the passing of NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye and remember the important role he played in establishing ethics classes in NSW public schools. John Kaye was a tireless champion for public education, a pioneer in renewable energy, a widely respected Member of Parliament and a highly principled member of the NSW Greens.

As an influential supporter of secular ethics education for public school students, John fought tirelessly to keep ethics classes as an option for NSW families. In 2010 he approached the Labor government and together they tabled an amendment to the Education Act that once passed, enshrined the right of all NSW children to attend ethics classes in law. John Kaye provided both practical and political support to Primary Ethics during the 2011-2012 NSW Upper House Inquiry into the delivery of ethics classes. Late last year he assisted Primary Ethics with the recent change in the enrolment form.

Today more than 32,000 students attend ethics classes every week in NSW public schools thanks to John’s passionate commitment to education.

Meet Marbecc Webb – Ethics Teacher, Ethics Coordinator and Regional Manager


At Primary Ethics, we aim to build a long-term relationships with all of our volunteers and we have found that after a time, many of our volunteers express interest in changing their role or taking on an additional one. As a result of this interest, we now welcome volunteers who seek the rewards and challenges of multiple roles.

We are working hard to offer our volunteers more flexibility in their volunteering roles, to better fit with the level of contribution they wish to make. Current opportunities include a combined Coordinator/Teacher role, joining the Classroom Support Team to assist teachers in your area or becoming a Regional Manager to provide support to volunteers across a region.

Marbecc Webb contacted us earlier this year and asked what she could do to increase her volunteering. Marbecc has been a Primary Ethics volunteer Ethics Coordinator since 2014 and has developed a thriving program at Camden South Public School. She had ambitions to do more and when a teaching role became available at her school, she applied.

Marbecc has a background in human resources, holding both team leader and training roles in her professional life. This made her a more than suitable candidate for the vacant regional manager role for the Camden-Campbelltown region. She decided she had the time and motivation to take on all three roles – teacher, coordinator and regional manager and promptly completed interviews, training and induction for the additional roles.

We asked Marbecc to share her motivation, “I have always enjoyed voluntary work – I like contributing to my community in a positive way. I started my Primary Ethics life as the Coordinator at my son’s school and as demand for ethics grew I felt I would like to support the program further and become an ethics teacher myself. It made sense – I was already at the school every week so why not?”

“I jumped at the Regional Manager role and I enjoy it immensely because it gives me similar personal challenges and rewards to those I enjoyed in my career, before choosing to be a stay at home mum.” Marbecc explained, “An unexpected benefit in getting involved as a teacher is I now have a greater understanding of what the Ethics Teachers really do which I think makes me a more sensitive coordinator and regional manager.”

Information about further opportunities as well as details on how you can expand your involvement will be included in the next Volunteer Bulletin.

Meet the Killarney Heights Public School Ethics Teachers

Killarney Heights Public School is located on Sydney’s upper north shore, falling under the regional management of Vanessa Shirriff in our Roseville Region.

Ethics classes began at Killarney Heights Public school in 2014. The program has 209 students in classes and another 30 on waitlists. A vibrant group of 8 volunteer teachers cover 11 classes for children in Kindergarten to Year Six and another three teachers are currently in training.

Phillipa Gray, Killarney Heights Ethics Coordinator, manages a wonderful program teaching approximately 35% of the school’s students each week.

Congratulations to all our volunteers at Killarney Heights – you are doing an amazing job!

Killarney Heights Ethics Teachers enjoying drinks, pizza and lots of love and laughter in May 2016.

Help! New Training Venues Needed Urgently

Primary Ethics is looking for new training venues for our 2 day teacher training workshops. While we prefer venues we can use on a regular basis we are happy to accept one-off offers as well. The demand for ethics classes continues to grow and we run training all year, across city and country areas. Please consider all your networks and contacts – companies, employers, clubs, schools, friends and family.

Training Room Requirements

The delivery of our training is flexible and we are happy to work around a suggested company/venues current commitments.

Ideally we would like:

  • A space that comfortably seats 16-30 people, in a circle
  • Full day access: 8.30am – 5pm
  • Training runs over 2 days: weekends or weekdays are both useful (training can be run over consecutive days or a week apart)
  • We have our own audiovisual equipment but we will need a light coloured wall or a screen
Please call Karen Lee, Training Manager on 02 8068 7752 or by email to if you think you may be able to help.

WIN tickets for the next Ethics Centre IQ2 Debate

The Ethics Centre is offering Primary Ethics volunteers the opportunity to win one of two free double passes to the next IQ2 debate at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place on the 23 August 2016, Boomers owe a debt to the young If you would like to be in the draw, please email your name and contact phone number to We will draw two lucky winners on 12 July 2016.


The Ethics Centre is also offering Primary Ethics volunteers and supporters a members discount to this event- a saving of $10 per adult ticket. For more information and to buy tickets please visit:

To apply your member discount:

1. Enter ETHICS as the promo code at the top of the booking page.

2. Choose the number of tickets from ‘Member: The Ethics Centre’ in the drop down menu.

Making a bequest – how does it happen?

What is a bequest?

A bequest is a gift left to a beneficiary in an individual’s will. This might be:

A residuary bequest – the balance of the estate
A percentage of the estate
A pecuniary bequest – a specific sum of money
Assets such as shares, works of art or real estate

Unrestricted or unspecified bequests to Primary Ethics will be allocated to the area of highest priority at the time that the bequest is realised. Unrestricted bequests are highly valued as they may be used to suit the needs of the organisation at the time. A restricted bequest can be made for a specific purpose. If you wish to make a restricted bequest or to bequeath a culturally significant gift, we ask that you make contact with our Chief Executive Officer who can assist you with determining whether Primary Ethics is able to accommodate your wishes.

How should I word the bequest?

Independent legal advice should be sought regarding the composition of a will, however wording may include one or more of the following:

I give, free of all duties and taxes:

[the whole of my estate]
[___% of my estate]
[the residue of my estate]
[___% of the residue of my estate]
[the sum of AUD_____]
[___ of my shares in _____]
[my property situated at _____ having the title reference_____]
[the proceeds from the sale of _____ as liquidated by the executor of the estate]
[life insurance policy number _____ as held by _____]

to Primary Ethics Ltd (ABN 28 147 194 349) of Suite 408, 24-30 Springfield Avenue Potts Point NSW 2011. The receipt of the Chief Executive Office, Secretary or Public Officer for the time being of Primary Ethics Ltd is an absolute discharge to my executor.

For further information or a confidential discussion, please email our General Manager at or call on 02 8068 7752.

Primary Ethics … where are we now?

At the time of this report, Primary Ethics is teaching more than 32,700 students across NSW thanks to 2,310 wonderful volunteers.

We are teaching in 426 schools with another 34 about to start.

Over 25% of our volunteers teach multiple classes or coordinate multiple schools and another 50 offer their time in multiple roles.

We are extremely fortunate at Primary Ethics – our volunteers are of a very high calibre and are committed and capable people. We are extremely grateful to all our volunteers for their generous and ongoing contribution of their time and their energy. Each year their efforts result in a wonderful learning opportunity for the children in their communities.