The National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) "supports the wellbeing of students and school communities through pastoral care services" and is currently active in over 3000 schools around Australia. It costs taxpayers around $62 million each year.
Many aspects of the program have been criticised, including its employment practices, the low training and qualification requirements for those providing care, and the lack of formal monitoring of content and measurement of outcomes.
It has twice been successfully challenged in the High Court of Australia, and the acrobatics performed by the Federal government in order to guarantee the continuity of the program raised larger questions about the methods by which government funding is legislated.
Although non-religious care workers were briefly eligible for employment in the program under the Gillard government, the NSCP has generally operated in a way which many suggest is contrary to anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws.
The Albanese Labor government is now again looking at changing the scope of the chaplaincy program to allow schools to choose non-religious chaplains.
In line with this, the Department of Education is conducting an independent evaluation of the NSCP for the years 2019 to 2022. This evaluation will assess the program’s effectiveness in supporting the wellbeing of school students and the broader school community.
As part of the evaluation, feedback and submissions are being sought, and an online survey has been published seeking input from the wider community. The survey will be open until 13 September 2022.
You can access the survey here. Aside from answering the survey questions, there is also the facility for you to upload a Word document or PDF if you wish to make a more comprehensive submission.
Please spread the word to all those who may be interested in providing feedback on the program.