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$245 million for Chaplains

By John Hargreaves 19 May 2014 46

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In a Back to the Future Vaticano style, the PM has whispered in a new attempt to force religion into our schools. No-one cares if the private educational systems have chaplains to administer to their flocks. It has been the case since the year dot and will always be the case. But the push into the public school system, rejected the last time it was proposed, is another thing altogether. And if it is at the expense of the school counsellor system then it is a very dangerous thing to embrace.

Chaplains are not counsellors. They are clerics who propound their faiths and counsel along the religious doctrines of those faiths. They find solutions to problems presented to them within their “holy” books. Fine if that’s the way you want your goose cooked but not for me.

Chaplains do a fine job within religious parishes and schools, hospices and the like. But do they replace the qualified and experienced school counsellors? No they don’t.

Are they trained and qualified to speak to students about personal image issues, the challenge of sexual awareness, difficulties with parents or siblings, alcoholism or drug abuse? I think maybe not. The most dangerous thing in the world is guidance delivered by well-meaning amateurs. Let Chaplains do what they do best, interface between the faithful and their deity. Leave social wellness to the experts.

Tony Abbot is pushing his religiosity too far. Some questions for the president of the George Pell fan club. What if a school doesn’t want a chaplain? No money? Will a school be able to have both chaplains and counsellors? Will all faiths be catered for in all schools and how? Where are you going to get Buddhist or Hindu counsellors? Will each school have multiple chaplains catering for a multitude of faiths? Will the federal government dictate which religions can have chaplains operating in the public system and what it is that they provide?

$245 million is a lot of money for a system no one asked for and most people reject. How about Mr Abbott gives this loony idea away and gives the $245 million to assist struggling families suffering from his onslaught onto their basic quality of life?

John Hargreaves
Former ACT Minister and MLA

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$245 million for Chaplains
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Smithers 5:26 am 20 Jun 14

It does surprise me that this idea has backing with all that is at stake. Religious values do not provide any health benefits for grown adults much less for young people with vulnerability. I wouldn’t even recommend Psychiatrists for some of the s$#t that teens face. Are they not at all concern about the propensity of abuse by clergy? Really? Even with what is known today? I would be worried if I was a parent.

housebound 11:55 pm 19 Jun 14

I too am sick of the John Hargreaves MLA posts. They have a special kind of self-serving vitriol I would usually expect from the Australian.

Back back on topic. Has any one of these critics worked with a chaplain or been a friend of one? Do you know what they actually do? Most that I have met are valued by their school communities. They are not counsellors (or even councillors), and they are not employed as such. The state and territory governments provide counsellors to the public schools, and they are highly qualified and mostly pretty good. We’ve come across one dud, but we’ve also met a couple of real gems.

But what’s worse are the implications of this decision. The early commentary suggests it could affect funding of a whole heap of ‘state’ responsibilities, such as education and health, which would play well into the hands of a rabidly decentralist Liberal government.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 5:23 pm 19 Jun 14

rhino said :

Sounds like the court just has an issue with the funding arrangements rather than anything else. And it’s something that the court acknowledged can just be avoided by changing the funding arrangements.

Sounds like they will pass some law or route the funds some other way to get it to continue working.

The article reckons Brandis predicted that the law introduced in 2012 by the ALP to get around the same funding issue that was challenged back then wouldn’t hold up in the high court. So it might have saved some time if he’d changed something about it before this case went through rather than afterwards.

Rhino you have got it right. see my new post on the issue.

rhino 12:46 pm 19 Jun 14

Sounds like the court just has an issue with the funding arrangements rather than anything else. And it’s something that the court acknowledged can just be avoided by changing the funding arrangements.

Sounds like they will pass some law or route the funds some other way to get it to continue working.

The article reckons Brandis predicted that the law introduced in 2012 by the ALP to get around the same funding issue that was challenged back then wouldn’t hold up in the high court. So it might have saved some time if he’d changed something about it before this case went through rather than afterwards.

Canfan 11:25 am 19 Jun 14

Commonwealth funding of school chaplaincy program struck down in High Court – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-19/high-court-delivers-verdict-on-school-chaplaincy-program/5534546

John Moulis 10:49 am 19 Jun 14

Breaking news: The High Court has just ruled the school chaplaincy program unconstitutional.

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