School Chaplaincy Debate

7/9/2010 Recruiting for Jesus: an open letter to the Minister for Education, by Dr Meredith Doig.
“As a long time Labor member in Melbourne Ports, I have to tell you I was outraged at the extension of funding for the National Schools Chaplaincy Program. It’s a decision that has brought me to the verge of resigning from the Labor Party and I believe it is simply driving members like me – those who believe in progressive social policies, not insidious evangelism with a smiley face – into the hands of the Greens. I attach a submission put forward to the Review of the National Schools Chaplaincy Program by the Rationalist Society of Australia, of which I am Secretary.” Read more….

5/9/2010: Legal challenge to school chaplains by Rachel Browne, Sydney Morning Herald.
“Australia’s school chaplaincy program faces a constitutional challenge in the High Court as opposition grows to having government funding paying for God’s representatives in state schools.” Read more….

31/8/2010: School Chaplaincy Program: so far the wrong response – and for the wrong reasons by Rupert Macgregor, Executive Director of the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO).
“…ACSSO has consistently supported principals in seeking the resources they need… ACSSO’s abiding concern is that some five years ago this debate was diverted into the sub-optimal alternative of the School Chaplaincy Program – in ways that were more motivated by ideological spin, expediency and political gamesmanship – a diversion which still unfortunately continues… ACSSO’s position throughout these years has consistently been that the essential need is for the provision of professionally trained, qualified and experienced counselling staff, with appropriate access to further specialised professional support and intervention resources as required – together with an appropriately resourced and dedicated Community Liaison Officer building supportive and sustainable partnership linkages with parents and families.” Read more….

26/8/2010: School Chaplains, ABC Radio National ‘Life Matters’ presenter Richard Aedy with guests Tim Mander (CEO Scripture Union Queensland) and Dr Monica Thielking (Psychologists in Schools Advisor, Australian Psychological Society).
“During the election campaign both major parties renewed their commitment to funding chaplains in schools. On the campaign trail Julia Gillard announced that money would continue until 2014, with the program extended to rural and regional schools. This reversed Labor’s previous position to review funding at the end of 2011. Critics of the scheme say that troubled school students need qualified counsellors rather than school chaplains.” Listen to the program or download the transcript….

National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), DEEWR.
“The Australian Government will provide an additional $42.8 million to extend the NSCP for all participating schools until December 2011. The extension of the program will ensure that those schools funded under the NSCP will be able to continue to provide valuable support in the provision of student wellbeing services. During 2010 the Government will also be examining options for the future through a broad and detailed consultation process. This process will involve a range of stakeholders including state education departments, major service providers, representatives of independent and faith based school systems, and peak representative bodies for parent and community organisations, principals and other relevant interest groups.” Read more….

Chaplaincy program study ‘flawed and biased’: conclusions not justified, John Kaye, The Australian Greens.
“The report ‘The Effectiveness of Chaplaincy’ by Dr Philip Hughes of Edith Cowan University and Prof. Margaret Sims of University of New England is being used by the National Schools Chaplaincy Association (NSCA) to argue for the program to be continued. It suggests that the contribution made by chaplains could not be made by other welfare professionals or teachers. The Greens challenge the validity of both the report and its use to justify the continuation of the program, on the grounds of unsound research method (absence of control group) … and lack of independence.” Read more…