Commitment for ongoing support of School Chaplaincy
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School Chaplains work in many Australian schools and are overwhelmingly valued by principals, teachers and parents because of the amazing support that they offer to children, families and teachers.
I have worked voluntarily with youth and children over many years (and my wife has relief taught in many schools) and we have seen the incredible, whole-hearted, selfless help that School Chaplains offer to struggling children, their families and the whole school community. This assistance is offered to everyone regardless of their beliefs, background or whatever. No wonder that thorough reviews of the chaplaincy program (involving surveys of principals, teachers, SSOs and parents) have continued to show overwhelming support for the continuation and expansion of School Chaplaincy.
The government has also recognised the excellent value-for-money of School Chaplaincy. School Chaplains are very dedicated and accept a far lower salary than governments would need to pay to counsellors or psychologists. Many School Chaplains recruit teams of volunteers to help children with their learning. Most School Chaplains also work many voluntary hours beyond what they are paid for - they are dedicated to their students and schools!
This petition is largely in response to another recent petition that made several false claims and inferences about School Chaplaincy:
- That School Chaplains are untrained/unqualified.
- That School Chaplains are "pushing some sort of backdoor religious agenda onto the children".
- That children who have contact with a School Chaplain will have religion "forced" onto them.
- Students are excluded from enjoyable activities because they are run by a School Chaplain.
Some facts of School Chaplaincy:
- School Chaplains are qualified (minimum qualifications vary between states. The minimum qualification is Queensland is a Diploma in Youth Work, which must include units in 'making appropriate referrals' and 'mental health'. Many have further qualifications, including counselling).
- School Chaplains work under the authority of their school and are prohibited from pushing religious view onto students (as specified in their employment contract) - and if they ever attempted to, their employment would be terminated.
- Student participation in activities run by a School Chaplain is voluntary. Students can only be excluded if their parents refuse them permission.
My request is that the federal government commit to school chaplaincy for 2018 and beyond. Also to expand the funding available so that school communities requesting a School Chaplain will be able to participate in the program to the benefit of their children and whole school community.
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