Changes to National School Chaplaincy Program

The Australian Government has announced that it will be introducing changes to the National School Chaplaincy Program using the feedback of an extensive community consultation that took place earlier in the year, as well as the recommendations of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The changes will meet some of the main concerns held by the community, including concerns over the appropriateness of a chaplaincy program in secular schools and the lack of qualifications held by chaplains to deal with some of the mental health issues that students might be facing.

School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said the government will be extending the scheme to an additional 1000 schools from 2012.

“It was great to see so many organisations, schools and individuals taking part in our consultation and their feedback and suggestions played an important part in the Government’s decisions to expand the scheme,” he said.

Key changes:

  • Secularisation — The program is being extended to fund schools’ employment of secular student welfare workers in addition to chaplains. The program is being renamed the ‘National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program’ to reflect these changes.
     
  • Minimum qualifications — From 2012, all new chaplains and secular workers will need to have a Certificate IV in Youth Work, Pastoral Care or a similar qualification, and existing chaplains who do not meet these minimum qualifications will be required to complete two units of Certificate IV in Mental Health and Making Referrals.
     
  • Extra assistance for remote schools — Remote schools will now receive priority funding and an increased maximum grant amount of $24,000.
     
  • Improved complaints mechanisms — Schools will now be required to keep a complaints log and have a designated complaints officer.
     

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