#916 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 29 Jun 2014.
On June 19 the High Court ruled unconstitutional federal government laws permitting funding of the National School Chaplaincy Program. The Court found that chaplaincy services did not fall under the Commonwealth’s power to make laws that provide “benefit to students.”
This does not imply the demise of chaplaincy in state schools. Within hours of the decision being handed down, Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated his support for the program, and it will continue to be funded via conditional grants to State governments.
There is overwhelming community support for continued federal government funding of school chaplaincy, as well as strong support from school principals and teachers around the country who see the value added by school chaplains to the school community every day.
Queensland state schools were recently given the option of employing a secular welfare worker in place of a chaplain, and 98 per cent of schools chose to retain their faith-based chaplain.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.