Ross Cameron’s tantrum over changes to school chaplaincy on The Drum

Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Mark 12:17

So anyway… getting back to school chaplaincy, there’s been some sensible rendering of funding of late. Perhaps Garrett stumbled upon this verse and saw the light.

As we know secular welfare workers or “counsellors” if you will are now on board as an option in spending your school’s $20,000 diluting that magical omnipotent lifeline to God. As reported in The Age today;

The change will open up the program to schools that have chosen not to take up chaplains, such as Essendon Keilor College in Melbourne’s north-west. Principal David Adamson said he would be applying for a secular chaplain ”as soon as the forms arrive”.

”We decided as a secular school we didn’t want to have a religious person come into the school because we have a very multicultural background in our students, so I think this is an excellent idea,” he said.

Previously schools were able to hire a secular welfare worker under the program only if they showed efforts to find an ordained chaplain had failed. Mr Garrett said the decision to add secular ”student welfare” workers was a reflection of community concerns over the religious nature of the existing system.

”It was an issue that had been raised in the consultation process … and it’s an issue which we’ve always known is one which some parents and some school groups and organisations have raised previously,” he said.

Other changes include mandated minimum qualifications, stricter guidelines for conduct and a better system for complaints. Existing school chaplains operating under the program will now have to ensure they meet a minimum skills requirement of the mental health and making referrals units of a Certificate IV in Youth Work.

New chaplains and student welfare officers appointed from 2012 will need to have completed a Certificate IV in Youth Work, Pastoral Care or an equivalent qualification.

As we noted previously the Australian Christian Lobby whose leader fought and killed foreigners for a non gay, non Islamic Australia is mighty upset. He resorted to Twitter. His calling card is the “-:”. And no subliminal suggestions please ❖. The Age continued;

The Australian Christian Lobby said widening the program broke a promise made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the lead-up to the 2010 election.

”The government’s commitment before the election was that the chaplaincy program would retain its unique faith-based pastoral care emphasis,” managing director Jim Wallace said. He said secular workers should be funded separately.

I’m not surprised Wallace is having a sob. That’s what your taxes pay this rather vile, bigoted, moralistic thug to do. When Howard introduced the program he (Howard) made much of the word “chaplain” as providing Christian pastoral values in times of need as opposed to secular workers. Described by many experienced teachers as “a cynical ploy”, things got worse with Rudd and Gillard. As Rupert Macgregor, Executive Director of the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), noted just over a year ago;

What is further disturbing is the extent to which we have seen established open process overtaken by the interests of political expediency. With the promised neutral national review under way and well advanced, PM Rudd essentially pre-empted the outcome by announcing an extension of the existing arrangements beyond the determined “end date” Even more recently, during the election campaign, PM Gillard subverted the whole review process by announcing a further extension to 2014. At the same time, the Opposition basically dismissed any need for review, reverting to their original conviction that this program should continue in perpetuity.

No wonder then visitors to the ACL media page will read;

It actually speaks volumes. Volumes as to the true political favour seeking function of the ACL. That which, in their own minds, places them above and beyond not just other Australians – all too often seen as besieging them via some immoral ontological attack – but above the welfare of their fellow country men and women. Students no less.

Allow me to translate. If you are not willing to accept the narrow minded Christian option lurching at the end of a leash which we always hold, then off you go and find your own money. You should be angry. Damn angry that Über-phobes who are only too happy to mess up our children’s minds and futures just to see their own castrated view of reality seeping across the land can rail as such.

Some “broken promise”. NSW never took part in the NSCA’s NSCP charade. The method by which Australian’s were scammed into thinking 25% of schools – which were half of a carefully chosen 50% of total schools to return surveys – was actually a “97% request rate for the NSCP nationally”, is outrageous.

Scripture Union QLD are keeping the faith as we’ve already noted. As unscientific as polls are one does chuckle at these two images – the second from the above Age article;

Scripture Union QLD Tweet

Fairfax Poll

Yet to me surely the most telling tantrum was from former Liberal MP Ross Cameron, on ABC’s The Drum, last night (September 7th). Ross blamed the need to balance chaplains with secular welfare workers on student dynamics brought on by “.. one of the single most negative, corrosive, destructive forces in our community”.

Shite! Drug Lords? Terrorists? Collingwood fans? No. The Education Unions.  It’s them wot dunnit. “They are a disgrace and have systematically worked to destroy cultures of excellence within public schools”. Wow! Who’da thunk it?

Students shouldn’t be running for help as implied by the need for counsellors and he reckons the money would be better spent on preventing why they can’t just play with chaplains instead. Oh, yes – again this is such a small petty issue he’s amazed it gets coverage.

Last time he told us it was “the smallest of small beer” and that as chaplains are going in to war zones with troops they can “handle a playground full of students”.

Shut up Ross.

Secular welfare changes to school chaplaincy on The Drum

❖ Update: Speaking of subliminal… Some hours later I was on Twitter only to read:


Peter Garrett welcomes changes to school chaplaincy program

Catch up on other NSCP posts here.

After scamming Aussies, Scripture Union QLD continues to maintain the fallacy;

Following changes announced today to the National School Chaplaincy Program. The Australian writes;

SCHOOLS will be able to choose whether to employ chaplains or secular welfare officers under changes to the federal government’s controversial chaplaincy program.

All new chaplains or youth workers employed under the program will also have to have a minimum qualification of a Certificate IV in youth work. Existing chaplains must have at least completed the mental health and making referrals units of the course.

The changes announced by Schools Minister Peter Garrett today include renaming the scheme the national school chaplaincy and student welfare program. Previously schools were able to use the funds to hire a youth worker only if they showed efforts to find an ordained chaplain had failed. […]

The school chaplaincy program is the subject of a High Court challenge, with Queensland father Ron Williams arguing the requirement for chaplains to be ordained is unconstitutional. [….]

The program also came under fire from the commonwealth ombudsman in July.

The Australian Christian Lobby of course, wants no part of independently contributing to sound “secular” care of student welfare. The tax payer can foot the bill just as for all things biblical;

HOBART 7 September 2011. Garrett announcement welcome

The Minister for Education and Skills, Nick McKim, has welcomed today’s announcement to extend the National School Chaplaincy Program to include secular student welfare services.

Mr McKim commended the decision by Federal Minister Peter Garrett which will allow school communities to employ either a chaplain or a secular student welfare worker.
“I commend Mr Garret for his decision because these changes address much of the feedback I’ve received from school communities,” Mr McKim said.
“I am pleased the program is to be extended to ensure principals and school communities are able to choose the right person to fit the needs of their students and local communities.
“This will give schools much greater choice in deciding whether they want to employ a chaplain or secular student welfare worker.
“Growing up in today’s world has its challenges for our young people and today’s announcement will provide them with the support they need.
“There are 95 chaplains currently working in Tasmanian schools and colleges.”
“I have asked my department to ensure that all schools are made aware of these changes to ensure they are fully informed of the options now available.”

PETER GARRETT: This morning I wanted to make an announcement about some changes that the Government will be making to the National Chaplaincy Program. I want to highlight some of those changes to you but to begin by saying this has been a very popular program. It’s one that the Government fully supports, and we’ve been through an extensive consultation process to determine what changes might be applied to the program in order to strengthen it and improve it. So today I can announce that we will broaden the scope of the chaplains program to include student welfare workers or secular workers in the schools as a part of that program.

We will strengthen the requirements for qualifications for those who work as chaplains in the schools under the program. We’ll also make additional requirements for the chaplaincy service providers, that they have strengthened requirements for the delivery of the program, and we’ll make available an extra $4000 to increase the amount for chaplains or the student welfare workers in remote, regional or disadvantaged communities from $20 000 to $24 000, to take account of the additional costs that can apply in remote areas.

What today’s announcement is about is taking a popular and positive program and making it better, with stronger qualifications and more choice for parents and school communities. And I’m really pleased that we’ve had the opportunity to take a program which is both popular and successful and improve and strengthen it. Now, I should add that in relation to those chaplains who are already working under the program and who don’t have minimum qualifications, the Government recognises that there is a need for them to have some minimum qualifications in the areas of mental health and referral qualifications that already exist under equivalent Cert IV qualifications. That will be a requirement for those chaplains already in the program, but the Government will provide them with the assistance to get those qualifications.

This is a program which is all about giving schools the choice about having a chaplain or a student welfare worker in their school. Schools are in the driving seat in this program.  It is a popular program and it is one that the Government fullysupports and, additionally, has provided funding for another 1000 schools to take the opportunity to have these services in their schools. I’m extremely confident that the changes we’ve made will deliver a program which suits the school communities right around Australia. I know this is a very popular program. It’s one that the Government fully supports and I commend these changes.

QUESTION: Minister, there was a High Court challenge in which the judgement’s due by the end of the year. Did the Ron Williams challenge play a part in making the Government expand its secular welfare movements?

PETER GARRETT: The consideration as to whether or not the program should be expanded for secular workers was one which was made prior to the High Court challenge that considered the chaplains program. It was an issue that had been raised in the consultation process that the Government had undertaken, and it’s an issue which we’ve always known is one which some parents and some school groups and organisations have raised previously.

QUESTION: With these student welfare workers, what do you mean?

PETER GARRETT: We’re providing the opportunity for schools to choose somebody who has an equivalent Cert IV qualification, someone who’s in a position to provide support and advice in the school community, as chaplains do, but effectively is a secular worker.

QUESTION: When you say student though, are they still at uni? Or is it do you mean that as in counselling a student? A youth worker or something?

PETER GARRETT: What I’m saying here is that schools can either choose to have a chaplain delivering the services under the program or a welfare worker delivering those services under the program, and there’ll be minimum requirements for both of those capacities, whether chaplain or a welfare worker.

QUESTION: Minister, there was a concern earlier that some of these chaplains were pushing religious views and trying to convert people to Christianity. Do you have concerns about the particular conduct of some chaplains under the program previously?

PETER GARRETT: I can’t stress strongly enough that the guidelines in the program are absolutely crystal clear that chaplains are not there to provide religious instruction or to proselytise, and that definitely remains the case. It is not appropriate that this is delivering religious instruction – and the guidelines and the code of conduct expressly forbid that. In those small number of cases where charges of proselytisation have been made, they’ve been investigated. I’m very confident that this is a program that is delivering into school communities the kind of services they think benefits students.

Remember, this is a voluntary program. Schools choose whether they want to have a chaplain or, now, a student welfare worker and I’m very confident that schools will make that choice, taking into account the views of their school community.

QUESTION: When will that come in?

PETER GARRETT: We will process the opportunities for those schools that want to continue the chaplain program over the coming week. We’ll also then start to process the additional applications for the thousand schools that additionally the Government is committed to. I do want to place on record my thanks for all of those groups that participated in the consultation process, the chaplaincy service providers, the principals and parents associations, and other interested parties. The fact is that we are fully committed to making sure that we put schools in the driving seat to determine whether they want to have a chaplain working in the school to help students or whether they want to have a welfare worker working at the school.

QUESTION: Minister, Labor power brokers say that Julia Gillard has until the end of the year to turn things around for Labor or there will be a change of Prime Minister. Should Julia be dumped as leader if she doesn’t turn things around by Christmas?

PETER GARRETT: The Prime Minister has my full support and the support of the caucus. We’ll continue to prosecute what I think are the important issues that Australians do care about. That includes the announcement that I’m making today. That includes the reforms that we have underway with delivery of the National Broadband Network, the big education reforms that we’re rolling out, improving schools, making sure that kids get the best education they can. That’s what Australians are interested in us doing and that’s what I’m interested in talking about.

QUESTION: Why shouldn’t Kevin Rudd be given another chance as Prime Minister?

PETER GARRETT: Well, again, I’m not going to provide a whole heap of commentary around these issues. I think that everybody wants to see the Government continue to deliver the reforms that we think are in the national interest and that’s what we’re going to do.

QUESTION: So will you be hoping she gets elected for another [term]?

PETER GARRETT: There’s no question about that.

QUESTION: And how long can the party afford to wait before action needs to be taken?

PETER GARRETT: Well, again, the most important thing for us to do as a government is what we are doing – making announcements such as the announcement that I’m making today, committing ourselves to improving the educational opportunities for young Australians and making sure that we continue with the significant health reforms that are out there, ensuring that we have a focus on those Australians – say, for example, in the disability area, who have not been given the level of attention that they deserve by our coalition opposition in the past and are now getting the level of attention they deserve from this government.  These are the things that count and these are the things that we’ll focus on.

QUESTION: Minister, will you be a Labor candidate for Kingsford Smith at the next election?

PETER GARRETT: I’ve always said that I intend to stand again and, at the moment, I’m absolutely relishing the opportunity not only to serve the people of Kingsford Smith, but also to bring forward policies which I think are better for the people of Australia. If Australians care about the quality of political leadership, then the Opposition Leader today should distance himself from the actions of the Parliamentary Secretary, Cory Bernardi, who is providing a great succour to an extremist politician who has dangerous views which are completely at odds with Australian culture and Australian values.

And I am extremely concerned to see that Senator Bernardi, who has consistently put a hardline view on a range of issues, has now offered support to a Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, whose views are extreme and dangerous. And Mr Abbott should show some leadership, discipline this Senator, remove him from his portfolio responsibilities, and ensure that he makes it absolutely clear that there is no place in a country like Australia, where our values are values of fairness and tolerance, for the kind of actions that Senator Bernardi has embarked upon in offering to support this extremist overseas politician.

QUESTION: Well, John Howard had Pauline Hanson disendorsed from the Liberal Party in 1996. Are you saying Tony Abbott should have Cory Bernardi kicked out of the Liberal Party in 2011?

PETER GARRETT: It’s up to Mr Abbott to make clear what action he’s going to take in relation to Senator Bernardi’s dangerous and completely unacceptable offer of assistance to an extremist politician. The ball is in Mr Abbott’s court if he understands the significance of the actions that Senator Bernardi has taken, and I would like to think that he does understand the significance of them, then he ought to take the appropriate action – it’s in his hands.

QUESTION: Just a – do you support a return to offshore processing of refugees?

PETER GARRETT: I’ve already made my comments clear in relation to what I think the Government has in front of us following the High Court decision. You’ve seen the subsequent comments made by the Prime Minister and we’ll continue to deal with this issue in the most appropriate way, given the decision that the court has made. Thanks everybody.

QUESTION: I’ve just got one more question, sorry.

UNKNOWN: Just when you thought you were –

QUESTION: It’s about the chaplains or the secular workers actually.


QUESTION: Where are the secular workers going to come from?

PETER GARRETT: Look, they’ll come from the community and from those areas of expertise of people who have those qualifications.

QUESTION: But the chaplains don’t get paid very much so you’re asking non chaplain workers who are supported by their churches to come and do the work with them for the same amount of money?

PETER GARRETT: Yeah. It’s the same figure for the chaplains or the welfare workers, other than that we’re providing the additional amount up to $24 000 for the remote and disadvantaged areas.  Look, I’m confident that there will be a source of people that want to come in and do this work. I know that we have people who are coming through the TAFE system, through the university system, through non government organisations and others, who have these equivalent qualifications who would relish the opportunity of working in schools, and providing assistance and support to kids in those schools.

QUESTION: For $20 000 a year?

PETER GARRETT: Well, I don’t have any doubt at all that in the same way as we’ve seen chaplains come into the schools for two days during the week normally, that the same opportunities will arise for the welfare workers.

QUESTION: Is the expansion of this to the secular workers a recognition that not everyone was happy with the religious nature of the program?

PETER GARRETT: The broadening of the program is a recognition that we want to provide schools with every opportunity to exercise a range of choice as to who they want to have operating in their school community. The fact is that the chaplains program has been a popular and positive program. It’s well supported by schools and given that it’s a voluntary program, I have every expectation that we’ll continue to see large numbers of chaplains in schools, but we’re also providing the opportunity for schools to make a choice about the kind of person they want working in their school. And if they do desire a secular worker in the school, then that opportunity is there for them.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, the $24 000 a year, that’s for ones in regional or remote areas – so is that outside capital cities? How would that criteria work?

PETER GARRETT: Look, there’s a series of definitions that the Department applies to those criteria and that will be made clear to the applicants.

QUESTION: So would the Central Coast of New South Wales be part of – considered regional or would that be part of the Sydney metropolitan for chaplains?

PETER GARRETT: Well, in terms of the Department’s definition, that’s something for them to determine but the point of the additional investment that we’re providing to the program is to enable schools that are in remote and regional areas and in disadvantaged communities as well to take advantage of this program. So the Department will have a set of indices that apply to that and the guidelines will make clear what they are and schools will have the opportunity of applying.

Thanks, everybody.

High Court challenge to school chaplaincy discussed on The Drum

Theologian and former Uniting church minister, Scott Stephens from ABC Religion makes sound sense in discussing the “messy” role of chaplains in Aussie schools, also defending the High Court challenge by Ron Williams.

Part of Christian service is to be clear about ones beliefs influencing the way one lives, Scott stresses. This leaves chaplains to deal with the reality that they will always promote Christian living, whether they proselytise or not. Part of Christian service is to express their own experience as followers of Jesus. Most chaplains Scott knows have “no idea… what are we supposed to be doing on school grounds?” They end up “a defacto teacher’s aid”.

Brilliantly he identifies Gillard’s extension of chaplaincy funding as a way to “baptise her faith in schools” and thus curry favour with the Christian Lobby. He is “not at all” in favour of chaplains in schools due to the the “moral quagmire” that follows government funding.

As church attendance has fallen lobbying plus reliance on government funding has grown. This plus “… reliance on legislation to cement it’s role…that’s a pretty clear sign church leaders no longer believe in God”. Tim Mander can make up as much piffle as he likes in defending his dodgy scam and free ride, but the facts are clear. Money changes everything.

Problems arose after The Australian yesterday published an article on creep and bigot, creationist John Mackay lecturing at Gympie State High School at the invite of a Scripture Union QLD chaplain. Other comments from Andrew Clennell and Tim Wilson.

High Court Challenge to School Chaplains

ABC 7:30 Report segment on Ron Williams’ High Court challenge to Australian National School Chaplaincy Program


Twitter: #NSCP #StopNSCP #HighCourtNSCP

The “weeping sore” of the National School Chaplaincy Programme

It hasn’t been the best week for the sellers of the National School Chaplaincy Programme Beta version, firmly ensconced in schools following a dishonest campaign by the National School Chaplaincy Association. Look for qualifications or a definitive role and about all one finds is the made up sales jingle by Scripture Union and other NSCA members that they are affectionately called “chappies”.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman Report, embedded below, raises serious concerns about the ill defined role of chaplains, no minimum qualifications and the non existent code of conduct or definition of proselytising. Added to this is the absence of minimum qualifications and a clear avenue for complaints. Even defining the terms “pastoral care” or “chaplain” properly has been recommended. It’s hardly surprising given that Australians were hoodwinked by a self serving 2009 review conducted by the NSCA itself that magically turned a 25% survey response rate into a 97% request for ongoing funding for chaplains. “You can’t argue with facts like that”, boasted NSCA’s Tim Mender in late 2009. Two days ago he was piping the same tune;

Chaplaincy is welcomed in school communities. They are making a wonderful contribution to the welfare of our kids, and schools are saying that in droves.

This is not true. As Commonwealth Ombudsman Allan Usher succinctly observed;

There is a degree of uncertainty in the community. There are many organisations who are rather nervous about what’s happening in the schools.

A brief look at Peter Garrett’s response to the Ombudsman’s report gives away his predetermined agenda to maintain the programme. His department “broadly agrees” with the recommendations, which he stresses have already been identified by the government. His release includes;

Whenever I visit a school taking part in the scheme I am always reminded of the high level of support among principals, teachers and students, and have seen first-hand the difference school chaplains can make in student well-being. [….]

The Government is extending the scheme to 2014 and expanding it to 1000 additional schools, and we remain committed to ensuring as many schools and students as possible receive the benefits of what has been a successful and valuable program.

The government’s insouciant neglect of chaplaincy shortfalls, community needs and attitude hasn’t been missed by Dr Monica Thielking and Associate Professor David Mackenzie from Swinburne University. They’ve called for a “comprehensive independent review of student support services”. Noting the “ambiguous” and evangelism prone “pastoral care” aspect showered with praise by Garrett and the NSCA, along with the upcoming High Court challenge, their media release, School chaplains: Where’s the evidence?, includes;

The ‘weeping sore’ of the chaplaincy program would be better treated by comprehensive independent research on student support services in Australian schools. The focus of the research should be the degree to which student support services are meeting the mental health, welfare and educational needs of students. While various jurisdictions are seriously interested in improving student support, there is no national approach and there has not been a review of all of the models and programs currently operating, let alone a process of reforming our student welfare services provision for the 21st Century.

“The focus on the chaplaincy program is a divisive distraction from what really needs to be done. Whether there should be a chaplaincy program or not should be ultimately considered as part of a thoroughly conducted program of research and development on how best to support young Australians through school and into life.

The so-called “federal inquiry” clearing ACCESS Ministry of their stated mission to convert children by “planting the gospel in schools… to go and make disciples” who “without Jesus… are lost”, was a whitewash. Two days before she got the all clear, Evonne Paddison’s ominous challenge to “bring on the inquiry”, because “the one we serve is the same yesterday, today… forever and his purposes will not be thwarted!”, tells us much of where Peter Garrett’s intentions lie. It is thus right and proper to have serious concerns about the future of the school chaplaincy programme under Garrett’s auspices.

The 2010 Ombudsman investigation in the Northern Territory of a school chaplain living with a convicted paedophile – raising parental concern of trust by association – other chaplains accessing children alone at home, counselling without qualifications, having no limitations placed on “religious propagation”, poor record keeping and more is a reminder of how wrong misplaced confidence can be. Since May 22nd this year, nothing more has been heard about allegations of rape and sexual misconduct directed at a chaplain or in what context these allegations from The Secular Lobby were framed.

However, the other issue they raised with Peter Garrett was that DEEWR and Scripture Union were co-developing an evangelical bible based resource – The Daniel Quest – for use by NSCP funded chaplains. S.U. QLD had made much of this project, which was most unusual given ACCESS Ministries were supposedly being investigated by Garrett and DEEWR for evangelising. Following a complaint from a parent, both the Scripture Union QLD’s Daniel Quest and a Bundaberg school web page hosting the project vanished. Readers familiar with ACCESS Ministry will recognise this tactic.

The ACCESS federal inquiry whitewash, Northern Territory’s five fold funnies, departmental neglect, invented statistics and inflated support, DEEWR double standards and the vanishing evidence of a bible project all point to an independent inquiry into the NSCP “weeping sore” as being justified. Recent online sex talk from a female chaplain to a student’s friend, distribution of homophobic material to students, active suppression of community awareness of inappropriate and bigoted conduct, fundamentalist, creationist and anti-science agendas – all enveloped in self serving, deceptive extremism are corrosive dynamics indeed.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman reported this week on page 5, that chaplaincy guidelines state the role of a chaplain is as a;

Reference point for students, staff and other members of the school community on religious, spiritual issues, values, human relationships and wellbeing issues. This includes providing support for grief, family breakdown and other crisis situations.

This, as with the NT Ombudsman’s Report raises concern about chaplains being placed in situations where they are forced to act as counsellors. Tim Mender fails to realise many community members and parents want neither pastoral care nor chaplains acting as counsellors. His reassurance to ABC that chaplains are well trained and “equipped to know the difference”, always working with professionals in the school environment is a fallacy. As former chaplain Beau Walker claims;

I would be asked from the school to maybe go and speak to a child who had a relative pass away. The guidelines say no counselling, but what else can you do in that situation?

Written up large on the Scripture Union QLD “chappy” page is Renee’s story of helping a “student whose mum died”;

I was able to take her through a program that deals with the effects and process of grief and loss… and talk with her throughout the whole process. [….] We are on a journey and each step is getting a little less painful for her. I am so proud of her and the amazing strength she shows each day. As chaplain, I am available to students and not tied down with other jobs. I think it’s amazing that supporting students is my role! They are the reason that I’m here. They aren’t keeping me from my job – they are my job!

What is also of concern is the “out there” evangelistic beliefs and Biblical fundamentalist views summed up perfectly by Christine Burford, interlocutor with God and chaplain from ACCESS Ministries, who is proud of her “covert mission”. In the Ombudsman’s report we read of the anxiety any parent would feel in knowing they have no say as to the “unfettered” access chaplains have to children. There are no departmental guidelines as to how parents are informed of chaplaincy access to children or how they may reciprocate. There are no requirements for the department to inform parents of their right to complain to the department itself. If parents act to restrict their children’s exposure to chaplains, given the ubiquitous nature of the programme it is likely to lead to divisiveness. On page 13 of the report one reads that a Mr. Y contacted the ombudsman’s office to say;

… three days after his five-year-old daughter started school she came home and told him, ‘Today I played hide ‘n’ seek with Mr Chappy!’ This caused him some concern as he understands that the chaplain does not hold any qualifications in education, early childhood learning, counselling or psychology. Mr Y advised that he then became aware that the chaplain is a missionary of a local Christian church and that this church has an agreement with the school to use its facilities on weekends to, among other activities, conduct miracle healing sessions. Mr Y advised that this church is also part of a religious movement which believes childhood behavioural disorders are caused by demonic possession. [….]

Mr Y believes that the implementation of the Chaplaincy Program at his local primary school is starting to foster principles of exclusion and discrimination, and he also believes that chaplaincy is becoming a divisive issue within an otherwise harmonious school community.

On page 8 it’s reported that despite the application guidelines that Peter Garrett holds dear and cites as virtually impenetrable, it appears they can be easily set aside. Ms. X reports that at a school with a high number of non English speaking non Christian families a survey that painted the chaplaincy programme in a strongly favourable light was sent home with students. Many parents weren’t aware of this and there was no language translation. On balance the responses did not support the chaplaincy programme. It was implemented anyway because the school felt it was not bound by the survey results thus Garrett’s department deemed the application a success. Ms. X also believes the decision was based on the belief the chaplain would act as a school counsellor.

It’s clear that despite Garrett’s preaching about the “guidelines” over and again, they are quite poor and in need of strong review. Proper complaint handling must be implemented with parents well aware of their rights. The Commonwealth Ombudsman made suggestions to deal with the flaws of this NSCP Beta version. Improved community consultation is required before implementing a chaplaincy programme. All key participants must be accountable under the funding agreement.

Mechanisms for assessing compliance with guidelines and national monitoring are needed. Protection of children and the rights of parents must be central to administration of the programme. Best practice as to how parents voice consent should be pursued. Strict definitions of what is and is not proselytising need to be provided by the department. The Ombudsman made 8 recommendations which can be read over pages 19 – 22.

Many members of the NSCA are also members of the international group, Arrow Leadership, compelled by the ”Lausanne Covenant”. This evangelical manifesto seeks nothing less that to make ”disciples of every nation”. Notice the spelling already used by the NSCA in Australia. “Program”. ACCESS’ co-architects, Evonne Paddison and Bishop Stephen Hale are on the board. They are not playing around folks.

If anything we can take away one general conclusion. The National School Chaplaincy Programme was not, is not and will not be implicated for the benefit of schools, children or families. It exists to maintain the influence of Christianity in a secular education system. To ensure the privilege of evangelism, to dilute the influence and cultures of a multi-faith community and to combat free thought, the pursuit of reason and skeptical enquiry.

No Australian should be expected to accept that.

7:30 Report, July 27th