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Chaplains appeal to SA education minister to continue vital chaplaincy programs

State education minister Jennifer Rankine doesn’t understand the role pastoral support workers play in South Australian schools, according to the National School Chaplaincy Association, a network of providers that includes SA based Schools Ministry Group (SMG).

National spokesperson Peter James said Ms Rankine is on record saying she supports “school choice” yet “she refuses to respect or support the choice of more than 300 South Australian schools that have voluntarily opted for a chaplain”.

“No school is forced to have a chaplain. It is the choice of each school,” Mr James explained.

“However those schools that do choose this way understand the social, emotional and spiritual support that chaplains provide.

“In fact independent studies have shown that chaplaincy directly contributes to students’ well-being.

“There is compelling evidence of the value of school chaplaincy. South Australia’s own Learning and Wellbeing framework for schools recognises the importance of social, emotional and spiritual support in achieving student wellbeing and educational outcomes.”

He said those opposed to chaplaincy are not basing their opposition on the facts but on ideology and misinformation.

“Chaplains are qualified, don’t discriminate and operate in the best interests of all students irrespective of their beliefs or backgrounds.”

SMG executive director Angela Jolly said many student support programs will be lost across South Australian schools if the Government does not accept the federal funding this week.

“I’d like the minister to realise that she is putting at risk valuable and sometimes even life-saving programs that support thousands of students, families and staff every year.

“Programs like breakfast clubs, homework clubs, life skills, grief support, self-esteem projects, healthy eating groups, young carers groups and other support groups will be lost to school communities if chaplaincy is not continued.”

Mr James has urged minister Rankine to “do what she has said and support choice – the choice of schools, parents and students across South Australia who value and want a chaplain.”

“I ask her to accept the federal funding immediately.”


Media Contacts: Lyall Mercer – 0413 749 830 // Barbara Gorogh – 0435 909 608

ACT education minister is confused about chaplaincy and should accept funding

ACT education minister Joy Burch doesn’t understand the vital role school chaplains play, according to the National School Chaplaincy Association.

The comments came after the Association publicly called for Ms Burch to accept the Federal Government’s renewed funding for chaplains, which she has so far refused to do.

NSCA national spokesperson Peter James said Ms Burch “confuses counselling, social workers and welfare workers and needs to understand how valuable chaplaincy is to those ACT schools that have chosen to be a part of the program.

“The role of chaplain is an integral part of the Student Services / Pastoral Care Team.

“Most schools already have youth workers, social workers, counsellors, nurses and others, with chaplains playing an important role in the team.

Mr James said the valuable support role will disappear from more than 30 territory schools if Ms Burch doesn’t accept the Federal Government funding by the end of this week.

ACT director of chaplaincy services Dianne Priest has urged Ms Burch to act and “support the continued welfare of ACT students”.

“We consistently hear from the schools that they don’t need more programs so much as they need more people to spend quality time with students listening, supporting and caring for them,” she said.

“Students value the quality time that a chaplain offers and teachers regularly refer students to the chaplains.”

Mr James said programs like breakfast clubs, homework clubs, life skills, grief support, self-esteem projects, healthy eating groups, young carers groups and other support groups will be lost to school communities if chaplaincy is not continued.

“Chaplains are qualified, don’t discriminate and operate in the best interests of all students irrespective of their beliefs or backgrounds.”

He explained that chaplaincy is not forced on any school but was a voluntary choice.

“I urge minister Burch to support the choice of schools, parents and students across the ACT who value and want a chaplain.


Media Contacts: Lyall Mercer – 0413 749 830 // Barbara Gorogh – 0435 909 608

SA, ACT Govts “political games” will see hundreds of jobs lost and thousands of students disadvantaged

The National School Chaplaincy Association says the South Australian and ACT Governments are playing politics by refusing to accept federal funding for the continuation of the National School Chaplaincy Program.

It said there is no reason for hundreds of chaplains to lose their jobs and thousands of students to be without valued pastoral care.

National spokesperson Peter James says ACT education minister Joy Burch and South Australian education minister Jennifer Rankine claim to be negotiating for the expansion of the program to include secular welfare workers yet “the Federal Government has made the terms very clear”.

“South Australia and the ACT need to put their politics and ideology aside or they will be responsible for thousands of students losing support, which makes no sense as these positions are fully funded at no cost to the state or territory.”

South Australia has 298 pastoral support workers (chaplains) in 335 schools. A recent survey in the state found that these support workers dealt with over 19,531 students, 2028 parents and 3341 staff over a 20 day period. The ACT has 30 schools that have chosen chaplains.

“There is compelling evidence of the value of school chaplaincy. South Australia’s own Learning and Wellbeing framework for schools recognises the importance of social, emotional and spiritual support in achieving student wellbeing and educational outcomes,” Mr James explained.

He said the two education ministers “just don’t seem to get it”.

“They are thumbing their nose at their own policy and at the schools that have voluntarily chosen to participate in a program with a proven track record of being highly effective in caring for the welfare of students.”

He said programs like breakfast clubs, grief support, healthy eating groups and many other support services will end and students will suffer if the two governments don’t accept the funding by this week.

“I call on these ministers to put the welfare of students before politics. They can fight their ideological battles later, without jeopardising hundreds of vital jobs and many valuable support services.”


Media Contacts: Lyall Mercer – 0413 749 830 // Barbara Gorogh – 0435 909 608

South Australia and ACT urged to accept chaplaincy funding before deadline

The National School Chaplaincy Association (NSCA) has called on the governments of the ACT and South Australia to act in the best interests of schools, students and parents by immediately accepting federal funding to continue school chaplaincy programs.

NSCA national spokesperson Peter James says he understands all other states and territories will accept the funding, a decision that must be made before this week’s deadline.

He said the ramifications across the ACT and South Australia will be huge if chaplaincy does not continue, with hundreds of chaplains set to lose their jobs and the rights of parents and schools who have chosen a chaplain to be trampled upon.

“Chaplaincy is a choice that schools make, and the benefits to school communities, students and families have been widely recognised,” Mr James said.

“I’d ask these two governments to stop listening to a vocal minority driven by ideology, and accept that chaplaincy is a highly positive model that has proven to make a difference.”

He said the argument to reject chaplaincy funding because secular welfare workers may lose their jobs “defies logic”.

“They seem to be saying that in protest to a few losing their jobs, they are going to make sure a lot more people lose theirs. That makes no sense.”

The school chaplain’s role is to provide social, emotional and spiritual support – something the NSCA believes is often misunderstood.

“Despite the scaremongering of a few, chaplains are not there to convert people and the facts show that the level of complaints in this area over many years is so miniscule it doesn’t rate,” Mr James explained.

“Chaplains are qualified to deal with people of all or no faith in a non-coercive manner and work alongside other pastoral care workers across school communities.”

He said no school is forced to have a chaplain, and that the South Australian and ACT governments must support the rights of parents and students in those schools that have chosen to be part of the program.


Media Contacts: Lyall Mercer – 0413 749 830 // Barbara Gorogh – 0435 909 608

Statement from the National School Chaplaincy Association – Re: Continuation of funding

The National School Chaplaincy Association welcomes the move by the Federal Government to ensure that funding continues for the important work chaplains do across Australia. Chaplaincy makes a positive difference in the lives of students and is widely considered the best model of holistic care and welfare, as it provides emotional, social and spiritual support. While we acknowledge the public opinions of some who are opposed to chaplaincy, much of this is based on misinformation. Chaplains are non-judgmental, non-coercive and support all students regardless of the student’s issues or worldview. It is generally accepted that spirituality is an important part of psychological wellbeing, and chaplains are not only well placed to offer this, but work collaboratively with other support services to serve their wider school communities. It should be noted that schools are not compelled to engage a chaplain – it is the choice of each school.


Media Contacts: Lyall Mercer – 0413 749 830 // Barbara Gorogh – 0435 909 608