School Chaplains

School chaplains and religious groups have been given $222 million (AUS/USA) in extra funding to the National School Chaplaincy Program.  This, on the surface, sounds promising. At present 2,700 schools across Australia partake in the Chaplain Program and with this addition money another 1,000 will be able to participate. This is great news.

Here is the question . . . what is the role of the chaplains in schools?

Did anyone mention religious activities, prayer groups etc...?

I hope not.  According to the Federal Department of Education: "they are allow to provide support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships, spirituality and religious issues, the provision of pastoral care".  But without "pushing religion" onto the students.  Therefore any spirituality and religious issues discussed must be done without really talking about religion. NO discussion of God or the Bible. No sharing of ones faith and no offering of prayers together.

Those chaplains that do provide "faith based" guidance are running into hot water. According to Helen Walton, the president of the Federation of Parents and Citizens in New South Wales  "We will continue to push for schools to have the right to choose someone that is going to provide the welfare they want for their school, with no faith-based aspect... and no religious aspect to any service that they provide."

My son, when he was having issues at school, went to chat with the school chaplain.  He found the chaplain much easier to talk to compared to the counsellor, someone who was interested and cared about him. 

Even though many in the community want this service stopped and the money spent on funding school counselors (arguing that school based chaplains are not qualified counselors), it is positive that the current government still supports and funds the programme. Especially in this day and age when this sort of programme is cut to "save money".  The National Greens have called for chaplaincy funds to be scrapped to be re-allocated to provide government schools with "properly trained and  desperately needed welfare staff". I wonder how long it will last?



  1. I saw this on Question and Answer. They have certainly tied the hands of the chaplains. We all know that since God has been taken out of schools here and in the States, that society has suffered. It wouldn't hurt our kids to hear about Jesus of course... what are the politically correct do gooders afraid of? SOciety will reap what it sows! Blessings!

  2. Very true, Glenys - they will reap what they sow.
    The thing I think is that we really DON'T want government to get involved with pushing religion anyway - if that was to ever happen, there would be a horrible mess on our hands and they wouldn't be pushing Christianity anyway. Far better when government stays away from religion and keeps to its own business.
    Let Christian workers get to these kids some other way - it's far better that way.

  3. Clara - even though the government isn't pushing religion by using chaplains (I think the use of chaplains are a cheaper option to counsellors) it appears it is getting messy without much effort with this fear that they “might” do something that they shouldn’t be. Comes back to that fear that Glenys mentioned.

    I agree that Christianity shouldn’t be pushed at school, but if approached by a child who wishes to discuss Christianity the chaplains hands are tied. Very tricky one.

    This was introduced by John Howard at the end of his term so I was surprised that it was kepted. In reality, the schools only get $25,000 each to run this programme - which is hardly anything.

    Our personal experience with the chaplain was very good – the chaplain didn’t try and analyse my son (as counsellors like to do), rather just sat and chatted with my son which he really needed. No Christianity was discussed.

  4. Chris Pyne, a South Australian politician, believes that the Bible should be read in all schools.

  5. Jo: up here many schools, even into High school, alocate a 1/2 hour a week for RI ~ & yes, you can specifically talk about the bible, God, religion etc. I know; I've done relief RI. Chaplaincy is sort of a why? in my book. I don't like school counsellors either but I don't really think you can teach ethics in a vaccum. On the other hand with so many women working getting the volunteers to take the RI classes is getting harder & harder & many hate taking high school classes because of the way the kids can carry on ~ but for some it is their only opportunity to hear the gospel preached.

  6. Ganeida - I think chaplains were introduced as they were a cheaper option compared to counsellors/welfare staff- $25,000 doesn't buy very much at all. From my experiences, I don't like counsellors either and haven't found them very good at all. Often the youth worker is better.

    I think most states/territories have Religious Instruction and I know in NSW Ethics classes have been tested as an option for those children not attending RI. It isn't run in our high schools only at primary school. it would be interesting to know how RI influences children who attend.

  7. Anonymous - not likely to happen and should it? Is schools the place?

  8. Out of interest - what happens in the US?


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