Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Australia Modifies School Chaplaincy Program To Also Fund Secular Welfare Workers

In 2007, the Australian government began offering schools up to $20,000 per year to fund chaplaincy services. (See prior posting.) Around 2700 schools have received funding under the program. However,  the Australian Psychological Society argued that the program is dangerous to children's mental health because many children are seeking out chaplains rather than psychologists to deal with mental health problems. (See prior posting.)  According to today's Canberra Times, the government has now changed its guidelines so that schools can choose to use the money to employ secular welfare workers instead of chaplains-- an alternative that was previously available only if no chaplain could be found. So far of the 2512 schools that have reapplied for funding, only 8% of  have chosen this secular option, 89% are sticking with chaplains, and 3% are still deciding. Meanwhile a constitutional challenge to the entire chaplaincy program is still pending in the courts.