Growing up you believe the world is meant to be the way it is. The older I get the more I realise that this is not the case. The world is full of injustices and atrocities that governments and the voice of faith expect us to accept, though with each passing year they grow fewer and fewer, at least one would hope. I have created this blog as a space for me to rant about all things science, politics, philosophy and religion, before it’s too late and the vessel of new atheism propelled by a growing surge in secularism solves all of the world’s problems for good.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Rant about the school chaplaincy program

Education Minister Peter Garrett (also former front man for Midnight Oil, when I used to like him) appeared on ABC's 7:30 last night about the school chaplaincy program. He stated that the Federal Government intends on expanding the school chaplaincy program even though fresh allegations of chaplains misbehaving has come to surface of late.

Chaplains have been exposed as to having offered formal counseling to students, though they are not adequately qualified to do so, while others are accused of acting inappropriately with students.
"They're obviously not there for discipline, they're not there for teaching, they're not there for religious instruction nor counseling..." says Garrett. (see video below)

Then what on earth are they there for?! And more importantly, why is it only chaplains are being pursued for this role they're playing at schools? Surely if they're not there for discipline, teaching, religions instruction or counseling, then this gap could be filled by almost anyone else, yet the Government are funding a religious group solely to carry out non-religious jobs... If their religion has nothing to do with it, nor their religious expertise, why are they the only adequate candidates for this seemingly easy-to-fill, credentials-less job?

These questions resound all the more loudly in light of the constant stories coming to air about proselytization of students and chaplains pushing their religion in schools, which wouldn't occur to the same degree, if at all, if the prerequisite of Christianity and involvement with Scripture Union QLD wasn't there.

I heard Senator Lyn Allison speak on the issues of the school chaplaincy program earlier this year at Melbourne University where she told of a few horror stories where chaplains had well overstepped the mark. From proselytizing in the playground all the way to taking students home with them for a weekend session of bible bashing in response to suicidal thoughts of which the student had informed the chaplain. Again, this wouldn't occur with non-religious, non-Scripture Union Qld affiliated people if they were offered this job. Furthermore, if we used the $222 million of tax payers money to fund professional counsellors, these sorts of issues could be addressed at the schools themselves, where currently chaplains have no counseling powers or use at all. Or better yet, put the funding into teaching jobs so that schools have access to more teachers who could undoubtedly fill this role more adequately than a chaplain.

Chaplains to me just seem to be a useless middle man, paid to be there for nothing more than a teacher's aid, ie. an extra pair of hands, and if they're informed of a student's issues and counseling needs they can do little more than pass that information on to a professional counselor to deal with, assuming they respect the guidelines of their position.

Teachers are currently untrained in the areas of counseling and thus by law can't counsel children and have to pass them onto professional counselors, much the same as the chaplains. Maybe this says something about tertiary education programs for teaching. Perhaps another area this $222 million could address, if it weren't wasted on chaplains, could be tertiary education programs for teaching and adding a counseling component that could give future teachers the appropriate qualifications to be able to counsel children. Two birds, one pay check.

I saw Tim Mander, CEO of Scripture Union Qld on ABC news last night saying something along the lines of... "Chaplains are there for the religious needs of the children". If that's the case it must be a pretty thin line between religious needs and proselytizing. So why even set up this program... We know why the chaplains are there, Christianity is losing its grip in today's world and in a last ditch effort to fight the separation of church and state it's attempting to be the guardian of our children. Clearly, just out of the goodness of their hearts. I'm sure it has nothing to do with their religion and wanting to convert and 'save' all of the godless children in our schools. Yet we open ourselves up to this danger, setting the wolves among the sheep and think that the predators' instincts will never kick in? And if they do, clearly it must just be an isolated instance, we can deal with it and move on... Rubbish... If we replace the chaplains with non-religious-affiliated average-Joes at the very least we've saved ourselves some of the issues that have already arisen in the short history of this ridiculous, poor attempt at a Christian vote gathering, program. It's about time the Labour Party started implementing useful programs the country needs, instead of focusing so hard on pandering to the religious right for support.

I can remember being in primary school when I was in grade 5 and 6 where we had high school students of about 16-17 yrs old come in each week and help out with the goings-on in the class. This was free, and I'm guessing part of the high school students curriculum, so both parties benefited. Why can't we install something similar to this if nothing else. It would cost tax payers nothing, and we're hardly lacking high school students located in close proximity to primary schools.

Either way, I want to see some evidence that the school chaplaincy program is having some positive effect on the schools with which it's involved. Show me some peer reviewed studies showing  that having a chaplain has significantly aided the teacher, the students and the school.

It's incredibly important we speak up against this chaplaincy program now and make ourselves heard considering the Government is about to expand the program by introducing a further 1000 new school chaplains. This is just the latest foothold in religion's war against secularism in Australia and it needs to be addressed ASAP.


  1. Great post. I think the reason our gutless politicians are paying the god squad to indoctrinate our children is because they believe there are votes in it for them. It's another good reason why as many people as possible choose “no religion" in the upcoming census.

    It's time the religious fanatics were put back in their dark caves where they belong. Science and reason are anathemas to them, schools should be for informing young minds, not poisoning them.

  2. Thanks a lot Blair, glad you liked it and agree with me. I definitely think you're right. All the more reason to fight it any way we can. Schools should always remain liberal in nature and void of conservatives and their dogma, yes inform children of religion and its historic and contemporary roles, etc. But yes, needs to remain 'teaching them about the real world' not 'teaching them to doubt the real world'.

  3. Pete some strange thought here: In a free society you want to ban the voice of conservatives?! I vote left but I'll fight hard for a society that will listen to all points of view. I don't want to be told what I can and cannot discuss, believe or act upon. It's dangerous thinking that would silence both George Bush and Martin Luther King Jnr "and their dogma": one because you despise his politics and the other his religious belief. Bummer.

    I'm sorry I don't have an ID. I don't normally comment on Blogs but an old church friend of the Caudal Lure pointed me here. Phil.

  4. Sorry I probably didn't voice my opinions properly in the last comment. I definitely don't want to ban the right and what they have to say when it comes to schools. I was reading something recently that referred to Universities as liberal by default as they encourage thinking, questioning, and don't require one to believe a certain thing etc, whereas conservative Universities would do the opposite, all as a result of their faith. I think that high schools should be liberal by default too, and not conservative, though that doesn't mean to say that conservatives can't have their say openly, it just shouldn't be absolute ever. If it were, it would make schools the opposite of what they should be, spaces to have freedom of thought and belief, and where anything can be discussed and learned.