Stop the National Schools Chaplaincy Program!

Who do you believe?

God

"I am not on some crusade... Religion is a personal thing... I don't ram my beliefs down people's throats..." PM, John Laws, October 30, 2006

"Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense" Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 1746

The Devil

God, John Howard, the Devil or none of the above!


Media Release www.stopthenscp.org Announcement of the first round of funding under the National School Chaplaincy Program condemned.

28 June 2007

The web site www.stopthenscp.org today condemned the Prime Minister John Howard announcement of the first round of funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) with funding given to 1392 of the 1503 applications received. By the Government's own figures this represents around 15% of Australian schools. At the same time the PM increased the program funding by $25 million to a total of $115 million over three years.

The underlying message of the Prime Ministers announcement and the Education Minister's earlier press release on 30 May is that the popularity of the program should somehow silence its critics. Of course, what neither point out is that the 85% of schools who may be uneasy with the program, and have not to-date applied for funding, will get nothing.

At the time of its announcement the NSCP attracted criticism from teachers, principals, education unions, peak bodies, some politicians and the general public. A reference group was announced by the Government in late November 2006 and it included no teacher or principal representatives. The Program Guidelines were released in late December 2006.

www.stopthenscp.org criticises program on the grounds that it:

 involves direct government funding of religion and undermines the separation of church and state. Indeed, the government has provided no details on what religious groups are being funded under the program.

 breaches the spirit of the Australian Constitution.

 is at odds with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981) ("the Religion Declaration" ) which are incorporated into Australian Law through the operation of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 .

 is divisive, particularly for schools with students and parents from a diverse range of backgrounds.

 is internally inconsistent as it requires chaplains to be religious, yet to put aside this religiousness in delivering services.

greatly favours private schools over public schools.

 puts the Prime Minister's personal world view of religion and spirituality ahead of the best interests of students.

 requires no educational qualification and experience of chaplains - unlike school counsellors and teachers.

is at odds with the Government's own Values for Australian Schools which is entirely non-religious as well as stated Government education and Liberal party policy.

discredits the Commonwealth Government and the Department of Education, Science and Training in particular to be promoting religion.

Taxpayers' money spent in education should employ the best people available to help students, not just the religious. The preferencing of the religious, over the non-religious, for no reason other than their religiousness, is unacceptable in Government policy. Either the program should be stopped or at the very least it should be open to schools to employ non-religious counsellors or welfare workers under the program.

It is also a misuse of public funds for 45% of the funding under this program to go to schools which already have chaplaincy programs, including some of Australia 's wealthiest private schools.

www.stopthenscp.org is an information resource for those opposed to the NSCP and can be contacted on the email link


Media Release - www.stopthenscp.org launched

June 2006

The web site www.stopthenscp.org was launched today. It is a information resource for those opposed to the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). The NSCP was announced in October 2006 by John Howard and provides $90 million of Commonwealth funding over three years for school chaplains.

www.stopthenscp.org brings together information from government, legal, media and other sources as well as suggestions for further action.
The launch of the web site co-incides with the lodging of a complaint about the discriminatory nature of the program to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.

At the time of its announcement the NSCP attracted criticism from teachers, principals, education unions, peak bodies, some politicians and the general public. A reference group was announced by the Government in late November 2006 and it included no teacher or principal representatives. The Program Guidelines were released in late December 2006. At present applications are being received.

www.stopthenscp.org criticises program on the grounds that it:

• involves direct government funding of religion and undermines the separation of church and state.

• breaches the spirit of the Australian Constitution

• is at odds with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981) ("the Religion Declaration") which are incorporated into Australian Law through the operation of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.

• is divisive, particularly for schools with students and parents from a diverse range of backgrounds.

• is internally inconsistent as it requires chaplains to be religious, yet to put aside this religiousness in delivering services.

• greatly favours private schools over public schools.

• puts the Prime Minister's personal world view of religion and spirituality ahead of the best interests of students.

• requires no educational qualification and experience of chaplains - unlike school counsellors and teachers.

• is at odds with the Government's own Values for Australian Schools which is entirely non-religious

• discredits the Commonwealth Government and the Department of Education, Science and Training in particular to be promoting religion.

Taxpayers' money spent in education should employ the best people available to help students, not just the religious.The preferencing of the religious, over the non-religious, for no reason other than their religiousness, is unacceptable in Government policy.

Either the program should be stopped or at the very least it should be open to schools to employ non-religious counsellors or welfare workers under the program. As Michelle Grattan in The Age wrote "t
here are good reasons why in principle and practice the Government's chaplain initiative is a bad idea. It would be one thing if this was a wider counsellor program, within which people who were ministers, imams, or whatever would be eligible for the funding. But to say that $90 million over three years of taxpayers' money should go to a scheme to employ only those attached to a religion is discriminatory. Discriminatory against non-believers, for a start. And against government schools."

www.stopthenscp.org will be following the progress of the program and will be regularly updated. The convener of the web site is a Sydney based political commentator and he can be contacted on the email link.

 

 

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