Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Support for School Chaplaincy

I have just read a great article in my wife Joan's War Cry. [A great weekly magazine that is always worth reading.]

On 21 November, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd became the first serving PM to address the Australian Christian Lobby’s national conference.

He spoke positively of the role of school chaplains and argued that it is proper for governments to fund them.

In part of his speech, he spoke about Allan and Kari Taylor, a couple in their 50s, who were killed in the most tragic circumstances in a road accident on the Sunshine Motorway. They were both involved in school chaplaincy. The impact of their lives was so great that more than 3000 people attended their funerals.

Mr Taylor believed so much in the value of the school chaplain that he stood down from being a school principal and took a big pay cut so that he could serve in that role.

The title above is a link to his speech in which he commits the government to ongoing funding.

David McKay


Peter Robinson said...

Those who there at the conference said that the PM spoke from the heart when he got on to talking about chaplaincy.

Having certainty to the end of 2011 is really encouraging. The PM also spoke positively about the continuation of chaplaincy beyond 2011 after a parliamentary committee recommends the form in which it will continue.

Most of the advocacy for the extension of chaplaincy came from the National School Chaplaincy Association who have worked hard for the last two years to secure this extension.


Link here also to the Effectiveness of School Chaplaincy research report commissioned by the NSCA as part of the lobbying process.

As the largest chaplaincy provider in NSW GenR8 Ministries is part of the NSCA. Unlike all other states and the ACT where the major providers are responsible for 75% to 99% of chaplaincies, NSW chaplaincy is very fragmented with most providers employing just one chaplain.

To improve advocacy for extending and increasing chaplaincy beyond 2011 NSW providers are encouraged to contact GenR8 at genr8ministries.org or 02 8268 3328.

NSW stands to have the greatest increase in chaplaincies beyond 2011. There are only 207 chaplaincies among 2200 state schools - less than 10%. Qld has 650 chaplaincies which is 65% of state schools. 99% of these are employed by Scripture Union.

Peter Robinson CEO GenR8 Ministries

David McKay said...

Thanks for this, Peter.
We appreciate your work with GenR8, which is used by our Bathurst Christian Education committee to facilitate paying Jon Blencowe, our excellent Christian educator.

Peter Robinson said...

Thanks David.

You never know who you're going to flush out on the web!

I was directed to your post by my Google Alert for school chaplaincy.


David McKay said...

G'day Peter
Would being a school chaplain impose restrictions on what one says and does, compared with being a Christian Educator?

Peter Robinson said...

Dear David,

The NSCP Guidelines (see the DEEWR website) make it clear that state school chaplains may not proselytise. Teaching students of families that in some way identify with the Christian tradition from the Bible about the Christian faith is an SRE function, not a chaplaincy function.

At GenR8 we see schools ministry as consisting of three complementary approaches, each conditioned by the legislation or regulations they are governed by. The first is SU accredited students' groups - ISCF or Supa Clubs; the second is SRE; the third is chaplaincy. They are different but complementary.

Our purpose is to present the message and reality of Jesus through word and deed in a professional educational setting that is for all young people of school age in the community who are not educated elsewhere. State schools are free and secular. Secular means non-denominational , not non-religious in the Education Reform Act 1990.

SRE is predominately word; chaplaincy is predominately deed. We want committed servant-hearted chaplains who demonstrate the love of neighbour by the way they contribute to the well-being of school communities. They build credibility for the church communities that support them.

Chaplains can be asked about their faith or specific faith questions, but the initiative must lie with the student, teacher or parent they are talking with. See the Chaplains Code of Conduct on the DEEWR site. They must be fully respectful of the religious (or non-religious) backgrounds of those they work with.

I know of a chaplain who led a teacher to faith in Christ recently because she was asked what led her to become a chaplain - she had been working in the school for years in another capacity.

GenR8's aim is to see a paid SRE teacher for every possible student in all 414 NSW state high schools, and to see a chaplain in ever high and primary school. The three approaches to ministry are a powerful combination to support and bless school communities and their members in appropriate ways, without violating people's freedom to reject Christianity per se or not to have to deal with it. Which is how God treats us.