The Federal Government has already committed itself to extending the federal funding of school chaplaincy until the end of 2014, but an important public discussion about chaplaincy is taking place right now that will shape the scope and direction of the program in the years ahead.

The Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), which is responsible for the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), have released a Discussion Paper asking for feedback on the program. It is absolutely vital that those people supportive of the chaplaincy program have their say by the deadline: Friday, 18 March 2011.

Although the Discussion Paper is overwhelmingly supportive of the NSCP, the vocal opponents of school chaplaincy have already mobilised to contribute their own submissions. It is therefore extremely important that supportive stakeholders, such as teachers, students, church communities and volunteers respond to this opportunity for feedback on the program.

The DEEWR Discussion Paper has raised four key issues: minimum qualifications for chaplains; minimum standards for service providers; the option for a secular pastoral care worker instead of a chaplain; and, flexible models of delivery of chaplaincy in remote and rural settings. Some technical expertise may be required to respond to these issues. Some of the state-based chaplaincy oversight organisations have produced guiding documents in helping supporters to respond.

Access Ministries – Victoria

Scripture Union Queensland

Youthcare – Western Australia

There are three ways you can respond:

Online questionnaire:

Emailing a response: [email protected]

Posting a response: NSCP Consultation, Australian Government, DEEWR, GPO Box 9880, Adelaide SA 5001

Please take this opportunity to help shape the future of school chaplaincy in Australia by writing a submission by March 18.