Presbyterian Youth and the NSW Council of Churches have welcomed the Federal Govern- ment’s recent proposal to fund school chaplaincy after a High Court decision in June ruled that the Commonwealth lacked executive power to fund the National School Chaplaincy Program.
Under the new arrangement, States and Territories will be eligible to receive the same federal funding but run the programs themselves. Council of Churches president, Rev Ross Clifford, said students in NSW schools needed the support that chaplains brought. “We encourage the (NSW) Baird Government to agree to the Federal proposal to fund faith-based school chaplaincy, and guarantee continued funding of existing chaplaincy programs in NSW schools,” he said. The NSW Council of Churches believes children and young peo- ple need positive role models and strong values, and school chap- lains help kids to develop skills and strategies to break negative cycles in their lives.” He said school chaplains built positive relationships with students and staff, and contributed to the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the school community in ways that were simply not possible for social workers and mental health workers. “The results speak for themselves and the Abbott Government is to be commended for its ongoing commitment to the welfare of Aus- tralian students through school chaplaincy,” he said. PY General Manager Murray Norman described current events pertaining to school chaplaincy as “really exciting, in spite of what you might think from the media”. “I’ve been in touch with the Coalition, Labor and CDP at a State level and have received positive statements from them about accept- ing the Federal funding for NSW Chaplains,” he said. “Generate Ministries – formerly Genr8, a partnership between Anglican Youthworks, Baptist Union, Scripture Union and Presbyterian Youth and the largest provider of school chaplains in NSW – has also negotiated guidelines with the DEC, which include the ability to use local school and community fundraising.” Generate CEO Rev Peter Robinson has a very dedicated staff which is working hard to encourage 1000 schools to apply for funding once applications open. “Currently we have 154 schools with chaplaincies and we would love to double that in the next round. We estimate well over a third of the 3000 schools in NSW will apply for 540 grants,” Mr Robinson said. “So we also want to encourage schools that miss out to talk to us about developing local fundraising to secure a chaplain into the future.” Mr Norman said he had also had a conversation with Par- liamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Senator Scott Ryan, who was looking after Chaplaincy, and he was really keen to talk about how Chaplaincy could be strengthened. “This looks like it will be the last round of funding, so Generate is focused on spending this time helping schools, churches and com- munities to move into a self-funding phase so that Chaplaincy can continue into the future, well beyond government funding,” he said. “It would be really good if people could be encouraged to pray. This is actually a really positive time for school Chaplaincy – with a support- ive Federal government (both sides), supportive State government (both sides) and four year round of funding to build the next phase.” Mr Norman said the best way to differentiate school chaplaincy from SRE was that chaplains were showing the love of Jesus, while SRE was teaching people about Jesus from the Bible.
What can local churches do?
- Pray – for your local school Chaplain, for your application, for your local school and community.
- Apply for a Chaplain in their primary or high school – don’t do this on your own! First step: contact Generate for an in- formation pack.
This will give you information to help you approach the school prin- cipal to suggest the idea, or your local Ministers’ Association etc. Anyone with a desire to see a Chaplain in their local school can get the ball rolling. Phone: 8268 3328 Note that if you already have a Chaplain, you need to reapply for funding – there is no automatic continuation of funding; and Gener- ate is set up to help you develop local fundraising if you miss out.