Chaplaincy funding should be redirected immediately to support student needs

19 June 2014

The High Court’s decision to declare the funding of the Abbott Government’s Schools Chaplaincy Program unconstitutional is an opportunity to redirect $245 million to areas of greater need, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the AEU has considered the Chaplaincy Program a misguided program from its inception. Apart from undermining our secular traditions, this additional funding should have been allocated to schools to better meet the educational needs of students with trained, specialist staff.

“There are great needs within our school systems. We have 100,000 students with disabilities not receiving the support they need, as well as shortages of other trained support staff. This must be a higher priority than chaplains,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Before the 2013 election, the Abbott Government promised an extra ‘disability loading’ for students with disability from 2015.

“It failed to deliver on its promise in the Budget, but found an extra $245 million for chaplains.

“The Government must admit it has let students with disability down, and redirect the Chaplaincy funding immediately.

“It also removed the option of a secular welfare officer from the Chaplaincy Program, restricting schools ability to choose what best suited them.

“Schools need a wide range of expert trained professionals to support student welfare and educational needs, such as specialist counsellors/school psychologists, as well as staff trained to meet the needs of students with disability.

“The Abbott Government needs to fund all schools properly, not use funding to impose its ideological agendas on schools.

“They must commit to funding the full six years of the Gonski agreements with the States, so that all schools can be resourced to a decent standard and all children receive a quality education.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291