Friday, May 25, 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby said yesterday’s announcement by Schools Education Minister Peter Garrett that new chaplains are about to commence would seem good news if it didn’t herald another broken promise to the Christian community.

Managing Director Jim Wallace said ACL did not have a problem with the government introducing secular student welfare workers but this should not have come from the pool of money promised to the National School Chaplaincy Program during the 2010 election campaign.

“The Government announced the expansion during the campaign but its commitment was that the chaplaincy program would retain its unique faith-based pastoral care emphasis,” Mr Wallace said.

In a video interview (commences at 16min, 27 seconds) conducted just two weeks before the election, Mr Wallace asked Ms Gillard to reassure the Christian constituency that there were no plans to change this.

Here is an excerpt:

Jim Wallace: The unique pastoral care that is given by chaplaincy is because it draws particularly on its Christian faith just as Salvos have a unique form of pastoral care drawing on their Christian faith particularly in welfare areas. Their (the Christian constituency’s) concern is very much that the program wouldn’t be secularised and that it could retain its unique flavour through its link to Christian faith. Do you see that continuing, would that be your objective?

Prime Minister: Yes I do see that continuing….. My view about the chaplaincy program is yes it would continue as a chaplaincy program with everything that that implies.

ACL went to considerable effort and expense to communicate this, and other commitments made by Ms Gillard, to Australia’s Christian constituency.