The Australian federal government has passed through an overhaul on the National School Chaplaincy Program. School Education Minister Peter Garrett has announced that secular youth workers will be allowed to take up equivalent positions as school chaplains as of next January.
However, this doesn’t seem to have satisfied Ron Williams, the father who self-funded the case against the NSCP heard in the High Court last month. He stated that:
It is still just as silly an idea as what it started out with.
I don’t think important things such as the mental wellbeing of our children should be contracted out to third parties.
If we do have children in dire circumstances in those schools requiring protection or help it should be provided by public servants … who are tertiary trained.
The main reason for Williams challenging the NSCP was related to how the program being funded by the government in the first place. These recent changes are effectively Minister Garrett and the federal government putting their fingers in the dike.
The majority of people opposed to the NSCP are more worried about unqualified people, whether Christian, secular atheists, or anyone in between stepping in to deal with the mental wellbeing of our children. This was never about atheism or secularism getting a leg up and over religion. It’s always been about what is best for our children’s lives.
Requiring secular youth workers as well as chaplains to complete a Certificate IV in youth work, which only includes a single unit on mental health and making referrals, is laughable really. These 100s of millions of dollars should be going towards tertiary educated counsellors, full stop!