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