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