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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.

rhino 10:23 am 19 Jun 14

justsomeaussie said :

The issue here isn’t about religion. It’s about qualified people and unqualified people supporting out children. This policy soley supports people qualified in specific religious qualifications, NOT necessarily mental health, counselling, psychology (secular qualifications).

This is the sole problem here.

If you go to a mechanic, do you care whether he has a bachelor of divinity or that he is correctly trained and qualified to service your vehicle. Do you care if your accountant is a christian or holds a CPA or equilavent.

Of course the person can be both but the primary criterion we are looking for is the requirment to do their job, in this case look after the mental well being of children.

Have you actually bothered to research what study it takes to become a qualified “chaplain”?

I agree with you that the religious aspect is irrelevant as long as they are capable at doing their job.

In terms of qualifications, I believe you are incorrect. They are qualified. They have to do the formal study to be a qualified counsellor. So that should put your mind at ease and there should be no problem.

justsomeaussie 9:47 am 19 Jun 14

rhino said :

I find it somewhat offensive that you’re on the one hand being somewhat disrespectful and on the other claiming that 100% of chaplains are incapable of being respectful of other beliefs. There seems to be a degree of hypocrisy there. Even the pope has now said that he believes atheists can go to heaven. Things are becoming more modern, accepting and inclusive than back in your day.

The issue here isn’t about religion. It’s about qualified people and unqualified people supporting out children. This policy soley supports people qualified in specific religious qualifications, NOT necessarily mental health, counselling, psychology (secular qualifications).

This is the sole problem here.

If you go to a mechanic, do you care whether he has a bachelor of divinity or that he is correctly trained and qualified to service your vehicle. Do you care if your accountant is a christian or holds a CPA or equilavent.

Of course the person can be both but the primary criterion we are looking for is the requirment to do their job, in this case look after the mental well being of children.

Have you actually bothered to research what study it takes to become a qualified “chaplain”?

rhino 9:08 am 19 Jun 14

gooterz said :

@rhino

There’s a huge difference between making something non religious and forcing people to be non religious.

Yes. And no forcing is happening here. Schools can ask for a chaplain if they want one. And then that chaplain still isn’t forcing religion on the non-religious. Think of the Salvos or Vinnies, do they say to people “here you can have this stuff for free but you must convert to our denomination”? Of course not.

The fact that the chaplains are religious affiliates undermines their trusted position in the schools.

How does that undermine their position? Does it undermine the Salvo’s position as charity workers? They’re there to do a job. Their own personal beliefs can be various things and not determine the quality of the trained counselling they provide. You could have a rubbish religious or atheist counsellor, just as you can have awesome of either. That depends on the individual. Writing 100% of them off just because of that isn’t warranted.

However I’m sure if the canteen staff were all representatives of coke, the teachers started teaching all the classes in Korean about north Korea and the PE teachers taught pagan sacrifice rituals you wouldn’t have an issue with any of that?

Not equivalent things. Having a PE teacher teach pagan sacrifice would be having them not do their job. Having a counselor/chaplain counsel is having them do their job. Just as having the Salvos do their charity work isn’t hindered by them being religious. I don’t think I’d refuse help from the Salvos at my lowest hour and accuse them of being rubbish at charity work based on that. It’s an institution of people who do that type of work.

gooterz 9:49 pm 18 Jun 14

@rhino

There’s a huge difference between making something non religious and forcing people to be non religious.
The fact that the chaplains are religious affiliates undermines their trusted position in the schools.

However I’m sure if the canteen staff were all representatives of coke, the teachers started teaching all the classes in Korean about north Korea and the PE teachers taught pagan sacrifice rituals you wouldn’t have an issue with any of that?

Because at least some people find those things quite normal it should be fine for everyone right?

rhino 4:02 pm 18 Jun 14

While I do applaud the honesty in not hiding behind a pseudonym, it is nonetheless rather apparent that there is an agenda in this post and even anonymity would not have masked that.

As I said before, behaving in a respectful impartial way is part of personal professionalism and a person’s personal beliefs are irrelevant in determining their capability in this regard. There are those who try to push their agenda against religion just as there are those who push their religion on others. If one is being employed on the understanding that they are not to be pushy or not understanding in this way, then that can be expected as part of their performance in the workplace.

It may have been the case back in your day at a Catholic School and being an alter boy, that the way religion was dealt with was more overt and in that specific environment, quite pushy. That seems to have cause some resentment in you, as evidenced by your statement demonstrating a lack of respect for religion by saying that they should “keep their imaginary friends to themselves”. If we have chaplains who are more capable than you in demonstrating respect for other’s beliefs, then it won’t be a problem.

I find it somewhat offensive that you’re on the one hand being somewhat disrespectful and on the other claiming that 100% of chaplains are incapable of being respectful of other beliefs. There seems to be a degree of hypocrisy there. Even the pope has now said that he believes atheists can go to heaven. Things are becoming more modern, accepting and inclusive than back in your day.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 3:50 pm 18 Jun 14

justin heywood said :

rhino said :

magiccar9 said :

I really disagree to this post. At present this site is being used by the Labor party to slag-off their opposition (see recent posts from Barr and Rattenbury re: budget).

This post in particular is basically just Hargreaves spouting his Abbott-hating, non-religious beliefs in the attempt that he hopes someone agrees with him to feel all warm and fuzzy. Honestly John, you should really think carefully about your next post here.

FWIW – I have no religious or political following. I’m neutral on the topic of Chaplains in schools, and believe that if someone wants to utilise the service they will. Those who don’t want it, simply don’t use it.

Very strong points here. If no schools want chaplains, this money goes unspent. Where is the “forcing” there?

And on what information is this statement made that they are unqualified bible bashers? Anything to back that up or is that basically just slander against the numerous fully qualified and reasonable people in that occupation? Everyone has a bias on religious issues. Being an atheist is equally a position that someone could try to push on others. Handling your own bias in a professional manner is something that is an individual professionalism thing. A counselor could do this badly potentially. Just because you can imagine some bible bashing scenario doesn’t mean that that is reality.

+1 to that, and FWIW I’m no christian either.

Hargreaves is presenting himself and commenting here as a public figure, usually referring to his political background in his posts. Therefore I think that his record and background is entirely relevant to the discussion. But if my experience is any guide, many posts critical of him are failing moderation.

To all the Johno bashers out there, nice to hear from you. Incidentally, I put my former employ on my name so that no-one can accuse me of hiding anywhere. I am what I am and don’t hide behind pseudonyms, which is of course your right. But don’t bag me because I am honest about my previous employ.

This thread has been great because it has shared a variety of views on chaplaincy in schools and the way in which the Government is forcing, through the public purse, a religiosity on schools which was canned some time ago.

It is sad to hear that a non religious counsellor is getting the sack because the school funding is only for chaplaincy services.

Remember well… chaplains do provide counselling services but their main raison d’etre is to represent their particular faith. That’s why they are chaplains and not counsellors. They are the interface between the poor soul and the chaplain’s God. For much of my school years I was a Catholic school student, an altar boy and at one time thought about holy orders. But now, I respect people’s rights to refuse indoctrination and would ask that people keep their imaginary friends to themselves.

justin heywood 3:22 pm 18 Jun 14

rhino said :

magiccar9 said :

I really disagree to this post. At present this site is being used by the Labor party to slag-off their opposition (see recent posts from Barr and Rattenbury re: budget).

This post in particular is basically just Hargreaves spouting his Abbott-hating, non-religious beliefs in the attempt that he hopes someone agrees with him to feel all warm and fuzzy. Honestly John, you should really think carefully about your next post here.

FWIW – I have no religious or political following. I’m neutral on the topic of Chaplains in schools, and believe that if someone wants to utilise the service they will. Those who don’t want it, simply don’t use it.

Very strong points here. If no schools want chaplains, this money goes unspent. Where is the “forcing” there?

And on what information is this statement made that they are unqualified bible bashers? Anything to back that up or is that basically just slander against the numerous fully qualified and reasonable people in that occupation? Everyone has a bias on religious issues. Being an atheist is equally a position that someone could try to push on others. Handling your own bias in a professional manner is something that is an individual professionalism thing. A counselor could do this badly potentially. Just because you can imagine some bible bashing scenario doesn’t mean that that is reality.

+1 to that, and FWIW I’m no christian either.

Hargreaves is presenting himself and commenting here as a public figure, usually referring to his political background in his posts. Therefore I think that his record and background is entirely relevant to the discussion. But if my experience is any guide, many posts critical of him are failing moderation.

Dork 3:19 pm 18 Jun 14

Yeah and the schools, already under funded are likely to hire an extra staff member? When they could get one from the allocated federal funding and not have to pay anything?

I think it’s a terrible idea. It makes the chaplains unapproachable. Our focus should be on the children and if the people most at risk feel uncomfortable seeking help then what good is it?

If you think this is not about religion then you really need to look again.

rhino 2:12 pm 18 Jun 14

Maya123 said :

rhino said :

Maya123 said :

magiccar9 said :

I really disagree to this post. At present this site is being used by the Labor party to slag-off their opposition (see recent posts from Barr and Rattenbury re: budget).

This post in particular is basically just Hargreaves spouting his Abbott-hating, non-religious beliefs in the attempt that he hopes someone agrees with him to feel all warm and fuzzy. Honestly John, you should really think carefully about your next post here.

FWIW – I have no religious or political following. I’m neutral on the topic of Chaplains in schools, and believe that if someone wants to utilise the service they will. Those who don’t want it, simply don’t use it.

The topic of chaplains in schools is not neutral though, because if a school wants councillors for the students it now has to be a chaplain; it can’t be a religious neutral person. And we are all paying for this biased service. Also the present non-religious councillors are going to be sacked, and then out of work. All this for the Abbot government to press their definitely not neutral agenda.

Where are you getting this? You’re clearly allowed to retain your current counsellors or employ new ones at your own desire. This is an additional pool of money made available for people who request a Chaplain for their school. Nobody is forcing the schools to take chaplains.

This is not what I read. The article I read (I didn’t keep it, so can’t provide a reference) featured a councillor who would be losing their job as the funding would no longer fund them; only chaplains. This has been backed up from government comments saying only chaplains would be funded. If this article was wrong it would be great. What reference can you supply that this is the case? A Liberal politician on Q&A was asked by a non-religious councillor who was going to lose their job under the new legislation, why non-religious councillors were to be excluded. The politician replied that it was appropriate because Australia was a Christian country. The $250,000,000 is only for religious chaplains.

Yes this money from the federal government in this one program is only for chaplains. This isn’t the only money schools receive however. The schools are funded by the states. This is additional funding on top of whatever the school’s normal budget is. They can use their normal budget to hire as many counselors as they wish. They aren’t being forced to take on a chaplain for free with the federal government footing the bill. They have to ask for one. If no school asks for this grant from the federal government to hire a chaplain, the money will not be spent at all.

Maya123 1:55 pm 18 Jun 14

rhino said :

Maya123 said :

magiccar9 said :

I really disagree to this post. At present this site is being used by the Labor party to slag-off their opposition (see recent posts from Barr and Rattenbury re: budget).

This post in particular is basically just Hargreaves spouting his Abbott-hating, non-religious beliefs in the attempt that he hopes someone agrees with him to feel all warm and fuzzy. Honestly John, you should really think carefully about your next post here.

FWIW – I have no religious or political following. I’m neutral on the topic of Chaplains in schools, and believe that if someone wants to utilise the service they will. Those who don’t want it, simply don’t use it.

The topic of chaplains in schools is not neutral though, because if a school wants councillors for the students it now has to be a chaplain; it can’t be a religious neutral person. And we are all paying for this biased service. Also the present non-religious councillors are going to be sacked, and then out of work. All this for the Abbot government to press their definitely not neutral agenda.

Where are you getting this? You’re clearly allowed to retain your current counsellors or employ new ones at your own desire. This is an additional pool of money made available for people who request a Chaplain for their school. Nobody is forcing the schools to take chaplains.

This is not what I read. The article I read (I didn’t keep it, so can’t provide a reference) featured a councillor who would be losing their job as the funding would no longer fund them; only chaplains. This has been backed up from government comments saying only chaplains would be funded. If this article was wrong it would be great. What reference can you supply that this is the case? A Liberal politician on Q&A was asked by a non-religious councillor who was going to lose their job under the new legislation, why non-religious councillors were to be excluded. The politician replied that it was appropriate because Australia was a Christian country. The $250,000,000 is only for religious chaplains.

rhino 1:40 pm 18 Jun 14

magiccar9 said :

I really disagree to this post. At present this site is being used by the Labor party to slag-off their opposition (see recent posts from Barr and Rattenbury re: budget).

This post in particular is basically just Hargreaves spouting his Abbott-hating, non-religious beliefs in the attempt that he hopes someone agrees with him to feel all warm and fuzzy. Honestly John, you should really think carefully about your next post here.

FWIW – I have no religious or political following. I’m neutral on the topic of Chaplains in schools, and believe that if someone wants to utilise the service they will. Those who don’t want it, simply don’t use it.

Very strong points here. If no schools want chaplains, this money goes unspent. Where is the “forcing” there?

And on what information is this statement made that they are unqualified bible bashers? Anything to back that up or is that basically just slander against the numerous fully qualified and reasonable people in that occupation? Everyone has a bias on religious issues. Being an atheist is equally a position that someone could try to push on others. Handling your own bias in a professional manner is something that is an individual professionalism thing. A counselor could do this badly potentially. Just because you can imagine some bible bashing scenario doesn’t mean that that is reality.

rhino 1:33 pm 18 Jun 14

Maya123 said :

magiccar9 said :

I really disagree to this post. At present this site is being used by the Labor party to slag-off their opposition (see recent posts from Barr and Rattenbury re: budget).

This post in particular is basically just Hargreaves spouting his Abbott-hating, non-religious beliefs in the attempt that he hopes someone agrees with him to feel all warm and fuzzy. Honestly John, you should really think carefully about your next post here.

FWIW – I have no religious or political following. I’m neutral on the topic of Chaplains in schools, and believe that if someone wants to utilise the service they will. Those who don’t want it, simply don’t use it.

The topic of chaplains in schools is not neutral though, because if a school wants councillors for the students it now has to be a chaplain; it can’t be a religious neutral person. And we are all paying for this biased service. Also the present non-religious councillors are going to be sacked, and then out of work. All this for the Abbot government to press their definitely not neutral agenda.

Where are you getting this? You’re clearly allowed to retain your current counselors or employ new ones at your own desire. This is an additional pool of money made available for people who request a Chaplain for their school. Nobody is forcing the schools to take chaplains.

rhino 1:30 pm 18 Jun 14

Not trained? Merely find all answers to all problems by reference to the bible?

I’m not so sure that that is accurate. If it was, it’d certainly be a strong point.

What if they are also trained counselors and are modern in terms of not being a bible bashers and respectful of other views, as would be expected of anyone in that position in our society today? And if they accept far less pay to provide this equally qualified service? Therefore more student welfare issues are resolved on the whole for the spend.

I’d accept the point that letting the schools choose between one or the other is probably preferable, but the idea that these chaplains would be a net negative rather than a positive is something I don’t accept. That and that they are untrained…that doesn’t seem to be the case from my experience.

gazket 9:11 pm 25 May 14

$245 million is a lot of money for a system no one asked for and most people reject

same thing could be said about Canberra light rail but not a word spoken by Mr John Hargreaves
Former ACT Minister and MLA .
$600 million + is a lot of money for a system no one asked for and most people reject

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