There are so many things wrong with the Abbot Government it’s difficult to know where to begin.
There are two things that I find just as worrying as the punitive budget. Which will do nothing but hurt the young.
The first is the school Chaplaincy Program, initially started by the Labour government as a support system for schools that could not afford appropriate support staff such as councillors. Initially you could get a Chaplin if you were one of 2,700 identified schools and the cost of the Chapin who was supposed to be fully trained as a councillor as well and the cost would be subsidised by the government. Many people whilst recognising the need for these support staff questioned why the money that this would cost wasn’t being directed towards getting professional secular staff for schools that would perform the same function without having an unnecessary religious bent.
Although always the wrong religion….
A national public consultation process was undertaken in 2010-11 to consider the future of the National School Chaplaincy Program, the precursor to the current National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program.
Acknowledging that the “people of faith only” idea wasn’t popular in 2011 the Labour government changed the rules to allow secular youth support workers into schools allocated the budget for the chaplaincy program and suddenly you had a choice. You could go the secular option should you wish. It wasn’t the world’s best compromise but it was a compromise.
It should be noted that the support staff are really only half measures anyway, they are only employed for usually a maximum three days a week in a school.
Much like the Job Network centre nonsense that goes on all the time, this money that is being funnelled has pushed religious organisations to create centres where they push out school chaplains and then they go into schools. Such as the “Scripture Union Australia”
Training institutions like this one have sprung up:
The National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program was first subject to a High Court challenge in 2011.
On 20 June 2012 the High Court handed down its decision finding that the Funding Agreement, under which the Commonwealth provided funding to Scripture Union Queensland for the programme, was invalid as it was beyond the Executive Power of the Commonwealth under section 61 of the Constitution to enter into such an agreement. The High Court further held that subject to certain exceptions, legislative authority beyond that provided by the relevant Appropriation Act was required for the Commonwealth to expend funds.
To address the High Court’s determination, the Financial Management and Accountability Act and Financial Management and Accountability Regulations were amended to provide the necessary legislative authority for the programme.
So basically the High Court said no and the government just changed the rules to allow it.
On 8 August 2013, a further challenge to the constitutional validity of the programme was filed in the High Court.
This claim seeks declarations from the High Court that the amended Financial Management and Accountability Act and Financial Management and Accountability Regulations are either invalid, or alternatively fail to confer validity on the funding agreement between the Commonwealth and Scripture Union Queensland for the Commonwealth to expend funds for the programme. The claim also seeks a declaration that the funding agreement is void and payments made in accordance with it were beyond the Executive Power of the Commonwealth, under the Constitution.
The Commonwealth is defending this action, which is expected to be heard by the High Court in the first half of 2014.
Sadly this has been deferred again.
The program has come under fire for being weirdly inconsistent, for instance it asks that the chaplains put aside their own faith to do the job, however if that’s what you want…why have a Chaplin in the first place? Also organisations like the Scripture union state that their aim is:
. to make God’s Good News known to children, young people and families.
. to encourage people of all ages to meet God daily through the Bible and prayer.
so that they may come to personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, grow in Christian maturity and become both committed church members and servants of a world in need. (Scripture Union Australia web site)
So how on earth would it be possible for them to put aside their faith when that does directly against the tenants of their organisation?
Another very fair complaint was that initially the Chaplin’s required no formal qualifications all that was required was that the prospective candidate be:
“person who is recognised:
• by the local school community including the principal, parent body and/or school’s
governing body, as an appropriate appointee and as having the skills and experience to
deliver school chaplaincy services to school communities; and
• through formal ordainment, commissioning, recognised qualifications or endorsement by a
recognised religious institution.”
Abbots Celebratory cake.
The rules have now been changed because that was clearly insane. They must have a minimum Certificate IV in Youth Work or Pastoral Care or equivalent. They must sign a code of conduct and pass working with children and police checks.
This is still not good enough as they will be often fulfilling the role of a councillor for which much higher mandatory qualifications are required in schools, usually a councillor needs to have an education degree, years of school and teaching experience, some kind of counselling qualification and an undertaking for a certain number of hours of Personal development that is relevant to counselling a year. And even then that is seen in the wider psychological community as laughable.
It is very hard to become a child psychologist the careers guide states:
People who study degrees in Child Psychology will normally encounter lots of different opportunities to work with children in other types of jobs, before they ever encounter an opportunity to work as a Child Psychologist.
There is no easy or obvious road to becoming a child psychologist.
High level university qualifications are essential; but qualifications alone will never make you into a good child psychologist. It is important to develop broad life skills and experience at the same time as studying; even if that means your studies take many more years to complete. The studies without experience will greatly limit your opportunities, and the experience without studies can similarly limit your opportunities.
The main problem being of course that becoming a councillor is laughably easy as it’s not a protected term in Australia. Anyone can become a councillor.
So what has changed with the Abbot government? Well not surprisingly Abbot LOVES the school chaplaincy program and in an austerity budget it wasn’t cut….nope it was boosted and changed.
All schools will be invited to apply for 2900 chaplain places. Schools with higher disadvantage will be given priority. Schools will receive $20,000 a year to hire a chaplain. Schools in remote areas will receive an extra $4000 a year. This will cost you and I $245.3 million over five years.
Chaplains can be from a range of faiths but they can no longer be secular youth workers.
Yep. He’s removed the secular part of the scheme.
Australian Council of State School Organisations president Peter Garrigan said: “The chaplaincy program in its entirety should have been scrapped and the money given to provide … services like psychologists, speech pathologists or dentists. But if the program has to operate there should be a non-religious option.” *Source: The Age*
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Some people might know that there is a Royal Commission into Child Sexual abuse going on.
To me a Royal commission is a useless thing, a toothless beast; it talks to a lot of people, wastes a lot of money and time and then generates a report and a list of recommendations that the Government can just ignore. It’s the thing you do when you really don’t want to do anything. To me the thing to do is to get prosecuting, get arresting, find the people who have perpetrated the abuse and put them on trial. Because that’s what you do when people have done the wrong thing and it should not matter at all that these people did so within the confines of a church or that the church somehow gets to go “Oh…don’t worry about that, we’ll take care of that”.
However there is one going on and I suppose those if you’re going to do it you might as well do it properly. So it’s somewhat disheartening that millions of dollars that was provided for the inquiry into sexual abuse has now been re-directed to another inquiry about the insulation scheme and the deaths that resulted from it.