HSV Submissions – June 2014

National School Chaplaincy Program

Submitted dd June 2014 to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott

HSV wrote to the Prime Minister expressing our concern over the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). We pointed out the divisive nature of placing religious people into school that are meant to be secular. We cited various bodies that are opposed to the continuation of this program such as the Australian Psychological Society, Sane Australia, the Australian Education Union, the Queensland Teachers Union and by the Australian Council of State School Organisations.

We recommended the participation of properly trained non-religious social workers and counsellors to provide the necessary care to school children. However, our strong preference is for the phasing out of the NSCP.

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

The Humanist Society of Victoria is very concerned with the further funding and continuation of the NSCP. The NSCP was initiated in 2006 by the then Prime Minister John Howard, its purpose was to install religious workers into schools even though no previous research had identified any need for them.

We are concerned that Chaplains have been recruited and trained by fundamentalist religious organisations. In recent times recruiters and suppliers of Chaplains in schools have been seen publicly stating that their aim is to convert school children.

On different occasions their negative views towards homosexuals have been recorded and are contrary with today’s social and school’s duty of care standards.

The NSCP has received criticism from parents, teachers, the Australian Psychological Society, Sane Australia, the Australian Education Union, the Queensland Teachers Union and by the Australian Council of State School Organisations. Two reports by the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory have expressed negative views.

We are strongly opposed to the divisive nature of Chaplains within a diverse school community and we encourage the participation of properly trained non-religious social workers and counsellors to provide the necessary care to school children. Regardless of the outcome from the High Court decision (Williams v. Commonwealth of Australia and Ors) this week, we urge you to consider there is no place for chaplains to become permanent fixtures in our schools.

On behalf of the Committee, yours faithfully,
Inga Anthonipillai

Update: The Commonwealth is no longer able to fund after High Court decision. Funding expected to come from State governments.