Urgent – Lobby Greens to Uphold High Court Challenge Ruling on Chaplaincy

National School Chaplaincy/High Court Challenge Update:

This is urgent. It would be great if everyone could get behind this today and promote it to your own networks. This is the time to mobilise folks.

The Federal government announced last night they are going to pass legislation to circumvent the High Court ruling on funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program. This is a cynical, underhanded move which, I imagine, won’t impress the High Court at all. It is not at all clear that this attempt to snub the ruling won’t end the government back in the High Court, but we have to wait to see their legislation first.

What we can do immediately, although it won’t overturn the legislation, is try to get the Greens to stand up in Parliament and oppose it – or at least demand amendments to the program. This will get publicity about what is going on and shine a spotlight on what the government is doing. But we need *you* and your networks to help.

As a matter of urgency, please send an email to the following list:

senator.milne@aph.gov.au, adam.bandt.mp@aph.gov.au, senator.dinatale@aph.gov.au, senator.hanson-young@aph.gov.au,
senator.ludlam@aph.gov.au, senator.rhiannon@aph.gov.au, senator.siewert@aph.gov.au, senator.waters@aph.gov.au, senator.wright@aph.gov.au, senator.whish-wilson@aph.gov.au

Here is a sample letter. You can use your own words if you like, but please use the three dot points as they appear so we present a cohesive message.

Subject: Funding – National School Chaplaincy Program

Dear Senators and Mr. Bandt

You will be aware the ALP are planning to rush legislation through parliament to subvert the High Court decision in Willams v the Commonwealth and Ors.

This is an opportunity for the Greens to hold the government to account. The High Court has made a ruling which provides a greater level of public accountability and now the ALP – undoubtedly with the support of the coalition – intend to circumvent that ruling through legislation.

This is an opportunity for the Greens to make a public stand for some incredibly important issues, including public accountability, separation of church and state and our children’s right to a secular public education system.

I would be grateful if the Greens would represent my views in respect to this matter. They are as follows:

1) I do not support the Howard-Gillard program that supplies chaplains of any faith in Australia’s public schools, and I urge you to prevent the continuation of chaplains in today’s forthcoming legislation.

2) If we are to have Commonwealth assistance supplied to schools in this manner then I am firmly of the view that they must be fully qualified as school counsellors, which means they are qualified teachers with a degree in psychology and postgraduate qualifications in school counselling, and nothing less can do.

3) It is time to stop outsourcing this work to third party contractors and these fully qualified school counsellors must all be employed as public servants in the relevant Education departments in each state and territory in order to ensure some high level of confidence in their training, integrity and the outcomes.

Yours sincerely


Fellow bloggers – can you please consider reblogging this – either cut and paste this post or rephrase as you see fit, but please keep the three dot points intact.

PS:  Perhaps Gillard, Garrett and Roxon should listen to Foreign Minister, Bob Carr who said last May that the chaplaincy program was “abhorrent” – Bob Carr slams chaplain funds.

Update:  Greens want tertiary counselors and Bringing down the House? Anne Twomey, a constitutional lawyer predicts the new legislation will see the government ‘clobbered’ in the High Court.

15 thoughts on “Urgent – Lobby Greens to Uphold High Court Challenge Ruling on Chaplaincy

  1. Glenn Crouch

    Tweeted (although I have next to no followers !), Facebooked and I have sent my own personalised email. Thanks Chrys for providing this valuable information. Here’s hoping the Greens take notice and at least raise a bit of a ruckus in parliament.

  2. Pingback: Urgent – Lobby Greens to Uphold High Court Challenge Ruling on Chaplaincy | SemiArticulate

  3. Duke

    Thanks again Chrys.

    This is important stuff.

    Consider it done. Very important that this absurd program is not reactivated.

    I have written about chaplaincy program previously in these terms:

    Imagine the outcry if the Commonwealth Government commenced a publicly funded program to place Buddhist monks, pagan priestesses, Scientology
    ‘auditors’ and shamans in schools across the nation and that, under the program, for a $20k fee, these assorted religious folk would provide pastoral care and other general, largely unspecified, guidance to students about… well… stuff.
    You know, hang out with the kiddies, shoot the breeze, do the odd pep talk, tell ‘when I was a young shaman’ stories or provide advice on correct crystal placement for ensuring the efficient capture of moonbeams at night.
    Imagine if the program cost $165,000,000 to get started and that later another $222,000,000 was pledged so the program could run until 2014 (That’s approaching the best part of half a billion dollars).
    No need to imagine.
    Welcome to the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) except instead of the the priestesses, monks, L. Ron Hubbard disciples and so on, an ill-defined group called chaplains get the cash.
    This is a group of people who, as nice as I’m sure they are, have as their sole qualification an unerring belief in the presence of a supernatural superintendent who reigns supreme over the universe and who can read your thoughts.
    That’s it.
    No need for teaching, counseling or psychology qualifications. Just so long as you believe in the big guy in the sky and can get some other like minded folks to back you up, then you are in!
    It’s tremendous!
    The NSCP was the brain child of a think-outside-of-the-box John Howard back in 2005 but has been continued under Rudd and, more recently, our atheistic Prime Minister Gillard.
    Just prior to its launch, Howard said of it:

    ‘Students need the guidance of chaplains, rather than just counsellors. Yes, I am calling them chaplains because that has a particular connotation in our language, and as you know I’m not ever overwhelmed by political correctness. To call a chaplain a counsellor is to bow to political correctness. Chaplain has a particular connotation, people understand it, they know exactly what I’m talking about’
    ABC News 29 October, 2006

    The only requirements for being a school chaplain are that the person putting their hand up to perform this nebulous role is recognised:
    by the local school, its community and the appropriate governing authority as having the skills and experience to deliver school chaplaincy services to the school and its community; and through formal ordination, commissioning, recognised qualifications or endorsement by a recognised or accepted religious institution or a State/Territory government approved chaplaincy service.

    If these completely half-arsed, puff-ball, eligibility criteria are still too onerous to get a particularly substandard ‘chappy’ through the school gates then, ‘in particular circumstances, alternative endorsement arrangements may be considered’! What these alternative arrangements might entail I can only imagine.
    Good times my friend, damn good times.

    A number of chaplain factories very enthusiastically embraced the program, two of the most prolific being Access Ministries and the Scripture Union who have both run into a little bit of trouble with some of their chappies drifting outside the program guidelines which are supposed to prevent proselytising.
    Besides being just plain bad in-principle, the entire program is open to abuse. You can drive a truck through the guidelines (and the Commonwealth Ombudsman did) and there has been little to the administrative oversight of the program that would give confidence to the tax payer that he or she is getting even a smidgeon of bang for buck out of this crazy little boondoggle.
    Let’s now turn our attention to the heartwarming story of ‘Chappy’ that was included as a case study in the Ombudsman’s 2011 report on the program:

    ‘Mr Y contacted the office to bring his experience with the Chaplaincy Program in his child’s school to the attention of the Ombudsman. He advised that it is his experience that the chaplain at his school has unfettered and unsupervised access to students. For example, he explained that 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. Although Mr Y recognises that the chaplain is generally cited as being a “good bloke” by many at the school, he is seriously concerned that if he requests that the chaplain has no access to his children there will be no choice but to exclude his children from regular play time, school sporting activities, school camps, and the numerous other school activities in which the chaplain is heavily involved. Because of these issues, 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. This highlights the difficulties in practice of managing chaplain contact with students in the school environment.’

    I don’t even know what to say about this…

    And then along came Ron Wlliams and co and the rest is up to us!

  4. Pingback: Chaplains in Australian Schools. Stop this abhorrent program! « mutterings

  5. Sam Sweeney (@SamSweeney)


    When I was enrolled in my local state school in 2009 I saw first hand what the chaplaincy program was all about.

    The entire grade was taken to the school hall to listen to members from the local christian church sing songs about jesus and tell us how they found god and why we should also try to find god.

    All in class time that would have otherwise been spent on studying for my final exams. No permission, no warning, just taken out of class.

    That was the only time I ever saw the chaplain.

  6. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

    Update: Thanks to all those who emailed yesterday and today. I don’t know how much influence we had, but it couldn’t have done any harm! Take a look here: Greens want tertiary counselors – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/greens-want-tertiary-counsellors/story-e6frf7kf-1226409913823

    Also see – Bringing down the House? – http://theconversation.edu.au/bringing-down-the-house-keeping-school-chaplains-means-a-surrender-to-the-executive-7926 – Anne Twomey, a constitutional lawyer predicts the new legislation will see the government ‘clobbered’ in the High Court.


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