Okay now I’m more than a little ticked off today. In education Australia has tried to maintain the separation of church and state when it comes to public education. State schools have access to funds to have counselors, chaplains etc available for their students but it has always been at the discretion of the school with interaction from the parents as to what role they play.
In the past there have been incidences of volunteer chaplains [with no training in counselling] talking/preaching to students regarding sexuality from the perspective of it being against ‘god’s law’ in regards to homosexuality and other issues that resulted in serious problems and more than one suicide.
This was stopped and the criteria for determining who was allowed to act as guidance counselors and the boundaries were more clearly defined. Abbott has now taken away that choice from the State Schools. As part of the changes to the federal budget and spending Abbott has now crossed the line between Church and State. A statement from the Australian Greens today shows that:
Abbott is pouring a quarter of a billion dollars into school chaplains, removing the option for schools to employ a secular youth worker. Under Tony Abbott’s plan, schools will no longer get to choose. They can have a chaplain or nobody at all…
This is not appropriate and more importantly not the business of government. If the parents are happy to have a chaplain at the school that is fine but what we have now is the government saying if you want counselors for your students they are either from the church or you receive no federal funding at all. According to the Mercury The Australian Psychological Society’s psychology [APS] in schools adviser, Darren Stops, of Hobart, said there were concerns about the lack of training of chaplains.
When a young person decides to seek help, it often takes a lot of courage. I want them to be seeing someone who knows how to respond and how to assess risk. Chaplains can listen to their concerns but if they can’t do anything a child can learn that nobody can help them, that they’re the problem and their problem isn’t solvable
The Australian Greens have set up a site where you can add your voice and let this government know that it is the responsibility of government to assure that those who counsel and guide our youth, especially considering the suicide rates in Australia amongst young people, are qualified to identify risk and respond without an agenda based on theological beliefs.