I got a tweet asking me to share this and it’s well worth sharing, so here it is.
National Campaign: STOP the National Schools Chaplaincy Program
They have that? Yes, they have that.
Since 2006, the federal government has used taxpayers’ money to pay for religious missionaries to access schools throughout Australia, including public schools.
Despite a recent budget that targeted education, health, and funds designated for children with disabilities, the current government has extended the National Schools Chaplains Program (NSCP) at a cost to the taxpayer of $670 million since its inception, and removed funding for non-religious welfare workers in schools. Poorly resourced state schools, in particular, desperately need properly qualified and experienced teacher aides, counsellors and social workers. That money has, instead, been diverted towards evangelists.
Reasons why our schools need properly qualified people with no religious agenda include:
- The NSCP was initiated by religious lobbyists. No research has identified any need for chaplains in schools. Public schools in lower socio-economic areas, however, are in dire need of more resources.
- Most chaplains have been recruited by fundamentalist religious organisations, whose agenda to ‘make disciples’ of children has been well documented.
- Religious fundamentalists often hold negative views towards homosexuals and other members of the LGBTI community, do not advocate safe sex, and do not always advocate full equality for women. Properly trained, experienced and regulated teacher aides and counsellors are far better qualified to care for the emotional needs of young people.
- Nearly 3/4 billion dollars has been spent on or allocated for chaplains since 2006, money that could have resourced the educational needs of children, in addition to evidence-based programs that demonstrate effective results in assisting vulnerable young students.
- The NSCP has been criticised by teachers and mental health experts, including organisations such as Sane Australia, the Australian Psychological Society and by the ACSSO, the peak body representing the parents of state school students.
- Religion in schools is divisive. In particular, In particular, faith-oriented chaplains, usually Christian, are not appropriate in multicultural Australia, where a typical state school is made up of students from many different backgrounds, including families of no faith.
How you can help:
- Email any one of our draft letters to a list of federal MPs — visit this page for easy instructions.
- For more information and more ways to help, contact your state coordinator:
- ACT: Tony Ansell: firstname.lastname@example.org
- New South Wales: Tony Ansell: email@example.com
- Queensland: Andrew Skegg: firstname.lastname@example.org
- South Australia: Moira Clarke: email@example.com, ph 0423 413 534
- Tasmania: Jin-oh Choi: firstname.lastname@example.org, ph 0408 271 800
- Victoria: Alice Carr: email@example.com, ph 0422 907 106
- Western Australia: Luke Spartalis: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Circulate this page amongst your friends and family members, and share it on social media.
- Sign and circulate this petition.
- Help Ron with his legal expenses, by donating to his campaign.
And note the real issue here …
The previous scheme allowed schools the freedom to choose whether they used a religious person or another, often more qualified, person to act in the chaplaincy “role”. Consequently, many schools gratefully took the funding because it meant they could keep all their teachers teaching and these dedicated funds meant they could have a person 100% committed to student welfare and counselling for however many days/hours were paid for.
This new government loudly proclaims that it wants to give public school headteachers power over hiring, firing and a whole lot of other stuff, but the very first thing they’ve actually done is to take away this particular choice about how to run their schools.
Moira Clarke says
Thank you for posting on this, Ophelia.
We don’t have church-state separation in Australia. In addition to this chaplains business, they allow religious volunteers into state (government) schools to preach, hand taxpayers’ money over to private (mostly religious) schools, and I could go on.
The High Court will be handing down its decision in the Ron Williams’ case tomorrow morning. It’s the second time he has gone to the HC over this. If he wins (again), they will most likely channel the funds through the states. We’re trying to get Australians to write to parliamentarians to impress upon them that we’re not amused.
John Morales says
There is pushback: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-19/high-court-delivers-verdict-on-school-chaplaincy-program/5534546