Media Release

For release: Sun Aug 8, 2010

The Australian Christian Lobby today welcomed Labor’s commitment to continue and expand the hugely popular school chaplaincy program.

In an interview with ACL’s Managing Director Jim Wallace uploaded to ACL’s election resource website australiavotes.org.au, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she sees a long term future for chaplaincy beyond the planned review of the program.

She also committed Labor to ensuring the faith character of chaplaincy was retained, recognising that like the Salvation Army’s motivation for welfare, faith was a critical determinant of the nature of the pastoral care provided by chaplains.

“My view about the chaplaincy program is yes, it would continue as a ‘chaplaincy’ program with everything that that implies,” Ms Gillard says in the interview.

“The work chaplains are doing – sensational work – and pastoral care in schools today, particularly when families are often under stress – we’ve got problems with family breakdown, problems with many kids, single income families, single parent families may not have say an adult male in their lives – particularly important for boys – the chaplaincy program has met a real need there,” Ms Gillard says.

“The reason we are reviewing it is not because we are concerned in any way the program is not meeting its objectives, quite the reverse. We think it has been a great success and what we wanted to see is to make sure schools around the country were fairly benefiting from it.”

Labor today announced it will allocate an additional $222 million towards chaplaincy which will not only allow it to continue beyond 2011 but will expand the program by one third, increasing the number of schools with chaplains to 3700.

Mr Wallace welcomed the announcement and Ms Gillard’s comments that the faith-based nature of chaplaincy would be preserved.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan 0408 875 979.