Qld Catholic Education "positive" about chaplains

Debate continues over the Federal Government's chaplains funding proposal with the head of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, Mike Byrne, dousing fears over government vetting and describing the proposal as a "positive initiative".

"Catholic schools clearly place a high priority on the pastoral support and spiritual nourishment of the members of their communities and in my experience a school chaplain or campus minister can be a wonderful asset in this regard," Mr Byrne said in a statement welcoming the announcement of the National School Chaplaincy Program which offers schools up to $20,000 per year to fund chaplaincy services.

"The role can effectively complement other specialised student support services as well as support the work of our parish priests, religious and teachers with various faith and personal development activities and programs.

"Chaplaincy or similar programs are already in place in many Catholic schools and this funding will encourage more schools to introduce programs," he said.

Mr Byrne said while he recognised that the government had reserved the right to veto a chaplaincy appointment through the program, he welcomed the initiative in the spirit in which he believes it is intended.

"I congratulate the government on its commitment to the spiritual and pastoral welfare of our young people and I look forward to seeing more detail around the implementation process and regulations of the program," he said.

Mr Byrne said anyone employed in Catholic schools in this capacity, as per current practice, would be subject to the required professional checks and be supportive of the faith and ethos of Catholic schools.

The Australian Government plans to release guidelines for the implementation of the program in December with applications for funding to be submitted before the end of March 2007.

School Chaplaincy Program
"Positive Initiative" (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, Media Release, 31/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Queensland Catholic Education Commission
Catholic Education Commission Victoria

Pell cautiously welcomes school chaplain plan (CathNews 31/10/06)
Veto fears over Govt's chaplaincy funding scheme (CathNews 30/10/06)
Chaplains on agenda for state schools (CathNews 19/6/06)
Sydney Archdiocese to double chaplaincy on campuses (CathNews 31/5/2005)
NSW Govt "backflip" on hospital chaplaincies (CathNews 11/2/05)
Queensland Catholic Education welcomes $60m Budget boost (CathNews 7/6/06)

1 Nov 2006