By Ella Feinberg Large, Imogen Knowles
Teachers unions in Queensland and Victoria are fighting to end The National School Chaplaincy Program, which was introduced in state schools in 2006.
Teachers unions say religious study no longer has a place in the state education system.
Queensland Teachers’ Union president Steve Ryan says schools in the public sector should have no religion threaded through them.
“The religious education in schools should be entirely voluntary, if it has to be there at all, and certainly we don’t believe there’s a role for religious education in schools,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan says the program can prevent positions for other qualified guidance personnel in schools.
“The chaplaincies in schools program is an easy cop-out for state education authorities where they don’t employ enough counsellors and guidance officers,” he said.
“We have concerns that that program is in fact cutting down the numbers of guidance officers and counsellors in schools.”
But the latest Federal Budget said it has plans to inject $222 millioninto the program.
Scripture Union chief executive officer Tim Mander says the union doesn’t want to see students robbed of an important pastoral care program.
“There is also a spiritual element to it as well resource for those kids that might want to explore those types of issues now it’s something that’s not imposed, a voluntary service, so they do bring that perspective to a school that other professionals don’t have.”
Mr Mander says the union has collected more than 30,000 signatures over a five week period for a petition urging the Federal Government to ensure ongoing support of chaplains.