Released on behalf of Reason Road 23.6.14
Is government defying the High Court on Chaplaincy funding?
Termination of the controversial Chaplaincy Program may now be in doubt, despite last Thursday’s High Court ruling that funding for the scheme is unconstitutional, according to president of Reason Road, Ms Moira Clarke.
The National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) began in 2006 under John Howard and has twice been contested — on both occasions the High Court has found the scheme’s funding to be unconstitutional. There are now concerns that the government is again finding ways to circumvent the ruling.
“It’s worrying that the federal government may have anticipated defeat on the NSCP challenge and changed its funding arrangements to allow the financing of chaplains through to December, in spite of the High Court verdict, ” Ms Clarke said.
“Chaplaincy providers should be repaying those unused funds, but it seems the government has written off that debt.”
“If this is true, we call on the federal opposition to pressure the government and explain to Australian taxpayers why they have essentially donated $37 million to chaplains, to year’s end, in spite of the program now being invalid.”
Ms Clarke added, the government would typically try to recover the entire debt. We think that would be overly harsh but from 30th June we do expect all unused chaplaincy funds to be returned – however, it seems providers will keep the $37m already paid.”
She stated it was essential the public receives information about why the NSCP is bad for schoolchildren.
“WA Senator Louise Pratt spoke recently in parliament on this very issue; students stigmatised for their sexuality have not been helped by poorly qualified chaplains with a religious agenda. No research indicates that schools need chaplains, it has no assessable outcomes, and numerous mental health experts, teachers and parents have criticised the program.”
“The chaplaincy program was never designed to benefit kids, it was always an ideological scheme, and what seems like a cynical attempt to keep it going adds to the image of government desperation,” Ms Clare said.
CONTACT: Moira Clarke, President, Reason Road Inc. Mobile: 0423 413 534
Prepared by Brian Morris, Plain Reason.