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NSW Govt "backflip" on hospital chaplaincies

The Civil Chaplaincies Advisory Committee (CCAC), the state's peak chaplaincy body representing nine major Christian churches and three other faiths, yesterday expressed strong concern about the Carr Government's $4.5m "backflip" on hospital chaplaincy services.

CCAC Secretary, Rev Harry Herbert of the Uniting Church's UnitingCare, said that for the first time in the organisation's 45 year history members feel it necessary to express public concern at government indifference to the chaplaincy needs of sick patients and vulnerable families.

"Two years ago today, the previous Health Minister, Mr Knowles gave a firm commitment in the presence of church and other faiths' leaders to provide 120 chaplains' subsidies over a five year period," he said. "Most regrettably, his successor, Mr Iemma, has authorised only 30 subsidies, which supports chaplaincies in some metropolitan hospitals."

He says that as a result, most NSW hospitals are without proper chaplaincy services and patients attending those hospitals are disadvantaged by an inequitable policy.

Mr Herbert's comments echo the sentiments of the CCAC's 2004 Annual Report, which was also being released yesterday.

"The CCAC is alarmed that chaplaincy services in NSW have become fragmented and discriminate against patients on the basis of where they are treated," Mr Herbert said. "This government policy is detrimental to tens of thousands of patients of Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist faiths across NSW."

Mr Herbert said the CCAC is seeking the Premier's intervention to instil an equitable policy across NSW.

Iemma's $4.5 million backflip on nsw hospital chaplaincies (Civil Chaplaincies Advisory Committee 10/2/05)

Spiritual health of patients under threat, chaplains say (Sydney Morning Herald 8/12/05)

Pell blesses new residential aged care community (CathNews 9/12/04)
Catholic patients "denied access" to chaplains (CathNews 26/11/04)

11 Feb 2005