Chaplains on agenda for state schools

Politicians from all parties have come out in support of a Federal government plan to encourage state schools to take on fulltime chaplains.

The Age reports that a plan to encourage state schools to take on full-time chaplains has won overwhelming Federal Government backing and is being seriously considered by Prime Minister John Howard.

The proposal was presented to a meeting of Coalition MPs on Tuesday where it received strong support from both Liberal and National MPs.

Four Liberal MPs have written to Mr Howard suggesting that the Commonwealth match funds voluntarily raised by state schools wishing to take on a full-time chaplain.

The four MPs met on Wednesday with Education Minister Julie Bishop to discuss the details of the plan and how it could be implemented in co-operation with the states, which have formal responsibility for primary and secondary education.

Ms Bishop has already publicly expressed her support for the plan, known as a National Schools Chaplaincy Program.

In Victoria, chaplains have been operating government schools since 1955 and there are 65 chaplains working in secondary schools and 17 in primary schools.

Chaplaincy programs also exist in most other states and operate largely without state or federal government funding.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello - who is an ordained Baptist Church Minister and brother to federal Treasurer Peter Costello - said that he had been a long-time supporter of chaplains in state schools, and that Commonwealth support for a national program would be most beneficial to the community.

Howard backs school chaplain bid (The Age 17/6/06)

Sydney Archdiocese to double chaplaincy on campuses (CathNews, 31/5/2005)

Is it right to have God in the classroom (The Age, 17/6/2006)
State school chaplains push (The Age, 10/6/20)

19 Jun 2006