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NSW minister praises prison chaplains

Corrective Services Minister in the NSW Government, John Watkins, has paid tribute to the work of prison chaplains in the wake of an historic signing of a formal memorandum of understanding between the chaplains and the government.

"Chaplains have always been in prisons providing the heart and soul of the correctional system," Mr Watkins said. "They can play the role of psychologist, welfare worker, pastoral carer and theologian.

"Chaplains also help prisoners adapt to the frightening reality of being behind bars and support the families who are left behind," Mr Watkins said.

The Catholic Weekly reports that a formal agreement was recently signed to promote high-quality service delivery and adequate funding for the Civil Chaplaincies Advisory Committee and to outline religious data that may be collected in prisons.

The NSW Government provides $1.6 million to the committee, distributed to the various religious groups to which the more than 70 chaplains belong.

Fr Harry Moore, a chaplain based in the Department of Corrective Services, said it was the first time the relationship between government and the chaplaincy had been formalised.

He said this would help preserve institutional knowledge when chaplaincy staff changed.

"There's a mutual obligation and partnership between Churches and the government in regard to the incarcerated," Fr Moore said.

Catholic Weekly