State Parliament may only be sitting occasionally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that has not dissuaded Reason Party Leader Fiona Patten MLC from slipping a bill into the Upper House targeting student spiritual support through school chaplains. The bill claims to ‘deal with religious privilege and uphold secular values.’
“The Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Employment) Bill 2020 will prevent a public school hiring non-teaching staff through a third-party provider. This is intended to prevent schools engaging Christian chaplains,” ACL Victorian Acting Director Jasmine Yuen said. “This move diminishes spiritual support for children in public schools. If parliament supports this bill, it is telling children their faith does not matter and that relevant questions cannot be answered for students with faith.”
“Fiona Patten’s Bill marks a new wave of attacks on faith-based freedom and support in schools.
“Providing counselling for students through a chaplain has been a very good thing for student wellbeing. Nobody is seriously claiming otherwise.
“Right now, with so much uncertainty, spiritual guidance forms part of a holistic support strategy. Parliament should see this brazen attack on student’s spiritual and emotional needs during the darkness of a pandemic for what it is and reject this unreasonable bill."