The Coalition has upheld its election promise by extending funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program, a decision welcomed by the Australian Christian Lobby.
The Coalition pledged
before the election to continue the National School Chaplaincy Program in Schools to support the emotional wellbeing of students.
This month's federal budget revealed that a total of $243.8 million will be allocated to the program over the next four years. Under the program, Australian schools can apply for $20,000 grants from the government to hire a school chaplain. Many school communities raise extra funds so their chaplains can work more than two days per week.
Along with other groups, ACL has advocated for government support of the chaplaincy program, citing widespread community support for chaplains and the important pastoral care role they provide students.
In an interview
on ABC News last week, Cabinet Minister Senator Eric Abetz commended the school chaplaincy program, saying:
‘The chaplaincy program is a wonderful investment in national building because if you talk to any school chaplain or indeed, any school principal that has a chaplain in their school, they will tell you what a wonderful investment it is in the spiritual wellbeing of young Australians.’
Scripture Union Queensland (SU QLD) - the largest provider of school chaplains in Australia - recently appeared before the High Court a second time to defend the chaplaincy program after an attempt by a Toowoomba resident to prevent funding of the program.
During the first High Court challenge, 85,000 Australians showed their support for school chaplains by signing a statement of support organised by SU QLD. They hope to present over 100,000 signatures to key members of parliament to show that school chaplaincy is important to thousands of families. ACL encouraged its supporters
to get on board with the campaign earlier this year.
CEO of SU QLD Peter James recently spoke to ACL's Katherine Spackman about the challenge. Listen to the interview here
. A verdict is not expected for some months.