For many years, Victorian public school students been supported by qualified Christian chaplains who provide spiritual and emotional advice and counsel.
Unfortunately, under Fiona Patten MLC’s Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Employment) Bill 2020, Christian chaplains would be removed from public schools in a perverse reversal of “religious discrimination”.
“Ms Patten argued in her second reading speech that hiring Christian chaplains is religious discrimination, but her Bill to prevent schools hiring chaplains through Christian providers is what is actually discriminatory here,” Australian Christian Lobby’s Victorian Acting Director Jasmine Yuen said. “Christian chaplains are an essential component of holistic support for students. Christian chaplaincy organisations play a vital training, resourcing and supervisory role to ensure chaplains are qualified and perform at a high standard. School Councils should also have the freedom to decide whether to hire chaplains that suit their school culture and community.”
“Depression and anxiety have been on the rise among school children. The COVID-19-related health crisis and economic impacts will see students needing even greater support. Banning Christian chaplains during this pandemic robs our children of the support they deserve.
“Some difficult topics in our society need spiritual perspectives to settle anxious souls. Schools should have the right to choose chaplains suitable for their community. This Bill from the self-styled ‘Leader of Reason’ sin-bins Christian chaplains for no sound reason. It is simply discriminatory and unfair.”
ACL calls on Ms Patten to let schools decide their own needs and stop meddling in their internal affairs. ACL also calls on the MPs from both houses to respect religious freedom and reject the Reason Party’s unreasonable bill.