For release: November 21, 2009

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s clear support for the school chaplaincy program and the Federal Government’s decision to extend funding for the program until the end of the 2011 school year.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the Prime Minister’s announcement to the ACL National Conference in Canberra today was warmly welcomed by the many church and denominational leaders in attendance, as well as grass-roots Christians.

“Mr Rudd spoke of his clear and long-standing commitment to the school
chaplaincy program, dating back to its beginnings in Queensland. He has a strong appreciation of the valuable role chaplains are playing in helping both school students and their families in a wide variety of situations,” Mr Wallace said.

“We congratulate the Government on its commitment of $42 million in funding over the 2010 and 2011 school years – representing an extra year’s funding over what had previously been allocated.

“The Prime Minister indicated today that during that time the Government plans to consult with the community as to how best to shape chaplaincy and pastoral care programs for the period beyond.

“Given the overwhelming success of the school chaplaincy program – as borne out by recent research – we are strongly hoping this will lead to the school chaplaincy program being not only funded but also extended in the future.”

“We congratulate the Government on its commitment of $42 million in funding over the 2010 and 2011 school years – representing an extra year’s funding over what had previously been allocated.

“The Prime Minister indicated today that during that time the Government plans to consult with the community as to how best to shape chaplaincy and pastoral care programs for the period beyond.

“Given the overwhelming success of the school chaplaincy program – as borne out by recent research – we are strongly hoping this will lead to the school chaplaincy program being not only funded but also extended in the future.”

Mr Wallace said that the theme of this year’s ACL National Conference was ‘Putting Kids First’ and support for the school chaplaincy program is one key way of doing this.

“This year’s National Conference, attending by around 250 people, really focussed on the many challenges confronting children in today’s society and the crucial need to better advantage children in public policy,” Mr Wallace said.

“Our aim is to see the best interests of the child put at the forefront of public discussion – a need that cannot be overstated if we are to genuinely care for our future generations.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979