Followup on school chaplains program (religious discrimination)

(This is a followup to my previous post concerning the Australian Federal Government’s announcement of a discriminatory plan to fund religious positions in government and private schools.)

The Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) has a page on the National School Chaplaincy Programme (NSCP) and a fairly enlightening FAQ. Most significantly, it describes the eligibility requirements for who can be a school chaplain (and clearly prescribes that they have a religious affiliation).

The NSCP and FAQ page are riddled with weasel words and phrases. They government reminds us that chaplains play an significant role in many schools (disregarding that teachers and cousellors play an integral role in all schools). They remind us that the chaplains are to helps students regardless of the students’ religion (to detract from the fact that the chaplain is necessarily non-secular). They remind us that they are contributing funding to other programs (even though the total for these other programs amounts to less that the NSCP funding and more than half is for drug education).

I think perhaps the most incredulous thing about the NSCP FAQ page is that the government is clearly contradicting all of the values they are presenting to students under their ($29.7 million) National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools program:

  • If the government were “doing their best”, they would not be introducing a discriminatory program unfairly biased towards private education.
  • The government is denying professionally trained secular consellors “a fair go”.
    By ignoring the overt discrimination and using weasel words, the government is not being upfront and “honest”.
  • The government shows no “respect” for professional education and personal traits, because they value then less than religious faith.
  • By introducing this program, the government is communicating that it sanctions religious discrimination. This is clearly not “responsible”.
  • The NSCP is clearly not “inclusive” because this funding is only available to hire people with a religious affiliation.

Details of the application process and assessment criteria will be made available in December.

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