Australian Education Union calls for Chaplaincy program to be abandoned

While many organisations have welcomed the announcement from Education Minister Jason Clare that the National Chaplaincy Program in schools will no longer be restricted to staff linked to religious bodies, the Australian Education Union (AEU) has added it’s voice to those calling for an overall of the entire program.

While staff employed under the program are not allowed to speak about religion directly, over the decades that the program has run there has often been concern about how closely this requirement is monitored and enforced.

“Public schools are no place for religious proselytising and instruction,” AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said.

“The AEU has always said that students and families who need support should be able to access evidence-based mental health, social and wellbeing assistance from qualified professionals. Further this must be backed in by fully funding schools so that they have the resources necessary for teaching and learning.

“We welcome this initial step from Education Minister Jason Clare and urge the Federal Government to go further.”

The AEU has long opposed the National Chaplaincy Program, saying it is biased towards Christian organisations.

“The program was a stalking horse for an ideological push to get Christianity into public schools. This was demonstrated by Federal Government data that showed the program almost exclusively involved the use of Christian chaplains, despite the diversity of religions and cultural practices in Australia.

“We encourage the Federal Government to abolish public funding for religious involvement in public schools in favour of investments in appropriate student wellbeing and mental health programs, professional development for teachers and to employ qualified school counsellors in every public school across the nation,” Haythorpe said.

New Education Minister Jason Clare has indicated that he plans to work with his state counterparts on how the program will operate in the future.

Graeme Watson, stock image. 


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