With a review of the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) well underway, and a High Court challenge to the federal funding of the program soon to take place, there was some good news for chaplaincy this week with strong support coming from the Education Minister, Peter Garrett.

ABC featured the NSCP on its Hungry Beast program, with Mr Garrett restating the government’s commitment to school chaplains, saying, “You can’t get better evidence than that more and more schools want this program, and that’s what’s happening”. He also said:

“The feedback that we get from principals is that this program is one which they welcome. It is a program where there’s significant demand for the services that chaplains are providing. And on that basis we’re really excited about the possibility for its expansion.”

The report also featured clips of Prime Minister Julia Gillard outlining her support to the ACL’s Jim Wallace is an interview recorded prior to the last federal election, and of her predecessor Kevin Rudd announcing an earlier expansion of the program at the 2009 ACL National Conference.

The support of the chaplaincy program from the government is a testament to its success, but it does have its detractors, some of whom were interviewed for the Hungry Beast report. A psychologist explained that more support services for required professional.

Tim Mander, CEO Scripture Union Queensland, the country’s largest chaplaincy provider agreed, saying: “We believe there should be more psychologists in schools. We want as much care for our kids as possible, but we don’t think it should be at the detriment of school chaplaincy.”

Angelo Gavrielatos, Federal President of the Australian Education, however, called the NSCP a “wasted opportunity”, claiming that the government was clearly trying to please ‘the religious lobby’ with its support for chaplaincy, and failing to see its benefits for school communities.

The report also repeated the claim that chaplains are ‘non-qualified’. This misconception about chaplaincy and more like it are featured on SU Queensland’s ‘Support School Chaplains’ website, which is an excellent source of information in the lead up to the High Court challenge.