On this page are some links and information on how to respond to the current issue of chaplaincy in schools.

Here is a paper written by chaplaincy providers explaining the issue and their concerns:

Response to Fiona Patten’s Proposed Education and Training Reform Amendm…

 

The Australian Christian Lobby has prepared a simple page to allow you to write to your local member of Parliament:

ACL Chaplaincy page

 

Here is a letter from Nicole Lane, the CEO of ECHO Youth and Family Services:

School chaplaincy is a vital way in which ECHO helps children, young people and families experience God’s love.  We currently have chaplains in 5 local schools, supporting over 2,000 students, families and school staff.  The work of chaplains is greatly valued by school staff and communities, particularly during this especially challenging time.

But right now, school chaplaincy is under threat, and we need your help today.

In the Victorian Upper House, Fiona Patten from the Reason Party, has tabled an amendment to the Education and Training Reform Act.  This amendment is an attempt to secularize the role of a school chaplain, dismissing the intrinsically spiritual nature of the role.  The amendment, if passed, would prevent government schools from utilising chaplaincy providers such as ECHO to employ, resource and support school chaplains.  Our main concern is that the government may pass the legislation with an agreement with Ms. Patten.  The amendment will be debated and voted upon on 14th October.

ECHO, along with other providers, strongly advocates for faith-based school chaplaincy as a vital part of students’ wellbeing, and we are seeking for this proposed amendment to be rejected in the Parliament.  We need a groundswell of support for school chaplaincy to convince Members of Parliament to reject this proposed amendment.  Attached is our more detailed response to the proposed legislation if you would like to learn more.

This is what we need you to do. 

  1. Pray for our school chaplains in their significant spiritual role in their school community, and pray for the decision making around this proposed amendment.
  2. Use the email template below or write your own brief email to the following Victorian MPs.  Copy and paste the content into individual emails as a group email is not as effective.  Please do not write a letter as it is unlikely to reach them in time.

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Subject Title: Concerns with Fiona Patten’s Education and Training Reform (School Employment) Amendment Bill 2020

Dear <MP’s name>,

I am writing to you in response to the above Bill that has recently undergone a second reading in the Upper House. Since its inception, the School Chaplaincy Program has played a pivotal role in supporting the local school community and bringing the spiritual dimension to the holistic wellbeing for the whole school community. Fiona Patten’s Bill seeks to undermine the fantastic work that is done by so many school chaplains and will have a detrimental impact on our school communities.  My concerns about the Bill include the following points: 

  • There are significant unintended consequences of this Bill that would have a devastating impact on the role third party providers play in supporting school communities. Many school and government funded initiatives rely on the support of hundreds of third-party providers to provide specific support programs to the school community, which would be compromised under this Bill.  If this Bill is passed, schools would not only lose the supports of local expertise, but would have to shoulder the burden of managing programs such as School Focussed Youth Service out of their own resource.  
  • School chaplaincy providers play a key role to assist the role of a chaplain to support the whole school community (students, families and school staff).  Chaplaincy providers the administrative needs of the role such as recruitment and ongoing training. They work effectively as a conduit between the school and local community groups to engage volunteers and build capacity in the role of the chaplain to be able to run programs such as breakfast clubs and other family supports. Significantly, through localised and centralised fundraising, they contribute around a million dollars of additional funding to the program that enables school to benefit from their school chaplain for extra days at no additional cost.
  • Ms Patten asserts that schools are forced to choose a Christian Chaplain. This is an incorrect statement. Under the NSCP, the framework of the program allows for school chaplaincy providers of any faith to provide school chaplaincy services to schools. The Department of Education and Training determines who can become a provider and allows schools the free choice of their provider.  In Victoria, a non-faith based provider has also been approved. 

It is unthinkable that in the midst of the COVID crisis and the mental health challenges that schools are currently experiencing, any consideration would be given to dismantle a key support in schools that independent research confirms is highly effective and is strongly valued by the school communities. If anything, consideration should be given to providing schools with additional funding for school chaplains during this time. 

I implore you to vote against this Bill to ensure it does not undermine the wellbeing of our local school communities.  The role of School Chaplains has never been more important. 

Warmest regards

 <Your name>

The Hon. James Merlino Education Minister Australian Labor Party james.merlino@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Jenny Mikakos Northern Metropolitan Australian Labor Party jenny.mikakos@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Mark Gepp Northern Victoria Australian Labor Party mark.gepp@parliament.vic.gov.au
Ms Harriet Shing Eastern Victoria Australian Labor Party harriet.shing@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Jaala Pulford Western Victoria Australian Labor Party jaala.pulford@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Gayle Tierney Western Victoria Australian Labor Party gayle.tierney@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Shaun Leane Eastern Metropolitan Australian Labor Party shaun.leane@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Nazih Elasmar Northern Metropolitan Australian Labor Party nazih.elasmar@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Jane Garrett Eastern Victoria Australian Labor Party jane.garrett@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Cesar Melhem Western Metropolitan Australian Labor Party cesar.melhem@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Jaclyn Symes Northern Victoria Australian Labor Party jaclyn.symes@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Lee Tarlamis SE Metropolitan Australian Labor Party lee.tarlamis@parliament.vic.gov.au
Dr Tien Kieu SE Metropolitan Australian Labor Party Tien.Kieu@parliament.vic.gov.au
Ms Ingrid Stitt Western Metropolitan Australian Labor Party Ingrid.Stitt@parliament.vic.gov.au
Ms Sonja Terpstra Eastern Metropolitan Australian Labor Party Sonja.Terpstra@parliament.vic.gov.au
Ms Kaushaliya Vaghela Western Metropolitan Australian Labor Party Kaushaliya.Vaghela@parliament.vic.gov.au
Ms Nina Taylor Southern Metropolitan Australian Labor Party Nina.Taylor@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Enver Erdogan Southern Metropolitan Australian Labor Party enver.erdogan@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Stuart Grimley Western Victoria Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Stuart.Grimley@parliament.vic.gov.au
Ms Tania Maxwell Northern Victoria Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Tania.Maxwell@parliament.vic.gov.au
The Hon. Adem Somyurek SE Metropolitan Independent adem.somyurek@parliament.vic.gov.au
Dr Catherine Cumming Western Metropolitan Independent Catherine.Cumming@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Tim Quilty Northern Victoria Liberal Democrats Tim.Quilty@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr David Limbrick SE Metropolitan Liberal Democrats David.Limbrick@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Jeff Bourman Eastern Victoria Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Victoria jeff.bourman@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Clifford Hayes Southern Metropolitan Sustainable Australia Clifford.Hayes@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mr Rodney Barton Eastern Metropolitan Transport Matters Party Rodney.Barton@parliament.vic.gov.au
Dr Samantha Ratnam Northern Metropolitan Victorian Greens samantha.ratnam@parliament.vic.gov.au