Greens say chaplaincy group stacked

The Australian Greens education spokeswoman, Kerry Nettle, says that the Government's new nine-member chaplaincy reference group, which includes the chairman of Victoria's Catholic Education Commission, has been stacked to favour private schools.

Education Minister Julie Bishop had earlier announced the makeup of the reference group for the National School Chaplaincy Program, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The government last month announced that schools would be able to apply for a $20,000 grant to employ a chaplain, conditional on them making a suitable appointment.

Under the three-year, $90 million program, schools would employ chaplains to provide pastoral care, advice and support to students and staff.

Schools will apply to the Education Department to participate in the program and will receive funding once the government has approved their choice of chaplain.

The group membership includes representatives from the Australian Council of State School Organisations, Independent Schools Council of Australia, the Australian Coordinating Committee of Jewish Day Schools, the Australian Council for Islamic Education in Schools, the Churches' Commission on Education, the Scripture Union Queensland, the SA Schools Ministry Group, and the Federal Department of Education, Science and Training.

Neil Brown, chairman of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, is also a member.

But Greens education spokeswoman Kerry Nettle told the Herald that the group looked like they catered more for private school students than the public sector.

"School counsellors are the professionals trained to understand students' wellbeing needs but there are none represented on this reference group," she said.

Nuncio emphasises "Catholic" education

Meanwhile, Holy See Nuncio, Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli told Australia's bishops at their meeting in Sydney this week that the faithful must be prepared and equipped to live their faith by the provision of sound education in both schools and in adult life.

Archbishop De Paoli focused on the value of education in his speech during the opening session of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Plenary Meeting.

"The Catholic school is very much a part of instructing in the faith, although not the only one," he said.

"You have an enviably extensive, strong and justly esteemed system of schools in Australia which serves the Church and society. To keep it so, a periodic re-visit to its fundamental double challenge is necessary."

Archbishop De Paoli says education in the faith is not limited to children in Catholic schools, he said.

"The question of instruction of adults not involved in Church ministries and leading them further in understanding the faith is perhaps even more challenging than that of instructing children and, perhaps, even more important. And this is especially true when the adults are parents," the Nuncio said.

Faithful must be equipped to live their faith - Apostolic Nuncio (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Media Release, 29/11/06)
Greens unhappy with chaplaincy group (Sydney Morning Herald, 30/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Greens Online
Catholic Education Commission Victoria

Catholic school "windfall" attacked (CathNews, 20/11/06)
Poll punishes Greens after senator mocks Catholics (CathNews, 14/2/06)

30 Nov 2006