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