National Secular Lobby Joins Push for Chaplaincy Inquiry
With funding changes for the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) up for consideration in May, many are questioning the program's discriminatory practices.
"The chaplaincy program is again being challenged by secular organisations around Australia, with a call to the Human Rights Commission to rule that it breaches anti-discrimination laws," says Associate Professor Paul Willis, science communicator and ambassador for the National Secular Lobby.
"Under the current program, all chaplains must be 'religious' and hired exclusively by evangelical churches in every state -- despite the fact that chaplains have no religious duties."
"This is a clear case of discrimination against secular youth workers who are better qualified to provide the full range of support services for children in schools," Assoc. Prof. Willis stated.
Associate Professor Willis said that teachers, parents, mental health and education professionals want the current program either changed or scrapped as it provides no benefit to students.
"Under the Rudd government, schools were able to choose either a religious chaplain or a student welfare worker, but that option was removed in 2014 by the Abbott government," he stated.
"$250 million was granted to state governments over the 2014-2018 period but there are no federal regulations for the program's operating requirements or for reporting the program's effectiveness."
"Permanent funding of the chaplaincy program will be decided in the May Budget, but the public has a right to know how discriminatory and ineffective the program is."
Assoc. Prof. Willis said that concerned organisations across the country have made a formal request to the Australian Human Rights Commission to hold an inquiry into the discriminatory practices of the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) and NSL is campaigning to have its funding stopped.
National Secular Lobby Limited