So Our Say had an online poll to decide on 3 questions to ask the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Personally the question I used my 7 votes on related to the national disgrace that is asylum seeker children being held in detention centres. Unfortunately that question didn’t even get close to the top 3, so I was pleased to see that, thanks to encouragement from Pharyngula readers, a question about the National Schools Chaplaincy Program, managed to knock out a silly question that was set up by the climate change deniers. That this seriously pissed off Andrew Bolt is really just a bonus :)
The National Schools Chaplaincy Program is one of my pet peeves and I’d love to hear Julia Gillard give some kind of reasonable and rational justification for it, or, even better, agree to can it altogether. From the ‘Stop the National Schools Chaplaincy Program!’ website:
The National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) was announced in October 2006 by the Howard government. It provided $90 million of Commonwealth funding over three years for school chaplains which was subsequently increased to $165 million. The Rudd government announced that it would honour these funding commitments and that the program would be reviewed and expanded to include secular counsellors, but only if a suitable religious chaplain could not be found by the schools. As it currently stands the Commonwealth is committed to funding religious chaplains in around 2600 schools across Australia.
So it will include secular counsellors, only if a suitable religious chaplain can not be found. And of course our current government has increased the funding yet again. Access Ministries are the largest provider of chaplains to public schools here in Victoria. Have a look around their site for yourself. I certainly don’t want representatives from them at my child’s school. At the moment, I am free of that concern as we are in a relatively new area so there are no religious groups established here. Yet. Regardless, if the government has money to spend on education, I absolutely do *not* want it spent on unqualified people who are sent into schools primarily to evangelise to our children. If children need support within schools, which I have no doubt they do, then they deserve those people to be appropriately qualified to actually help them. They also need to be absolutely unequivocally guaranteed that they will not be judged if they need to talk to somebody about feelings relating to sexuality and other areas where these Christian groups have extremely judgmental beliefs. There are plenty of Christian schools and churches around if parents want their children to be indoctrinated, but this absolutely should not be occurring in our publicly funded public schools. Of course the Christian schools are also primarily publicly funded but that’s a rant for a whole new day :)
Anyway, if you want to see the Prime Minister’s non answer (surprise surprise) on the National Schools Chaplaincy Program, go to the Deakin University youtube page here. The relevant bit is at the 52:00 mark.