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The end of Christ-centred chaplaincy?

The chaplaincy programme in state schools throughout Australia is now under threat from the new Federal Labor government. This will be to the detriment of student wellbeing. Chaplains provide vital support for our children, particularly those in disadvantaged circumstances. Since John Howard introduced the chaplaincy program in 2006 it has spread to 3,000 schools across the country, with people of all faiths contributing chaplains. Many parents of non-religious backgrounds feel that the programme has done much good, for which they are deeply grateful.

However, Family Voice is now reporting that after less than a month in power, the Albanese Labor government has announced a change to the National School Chaplaincy Program that will effectively see the end of school chaplains. Significantly, the new Prime Minister is seeking to discard the compulsory religious requirement for the programme, thus ensuring that thousands of schools will be vulnerable to pressure from radical activists who will demand that they replace their chaplains in favour of a secular alternative. As social researcher Amy Isham recently wrote regarding the parameters and benefits of the programme: “The chaplains I know haven’t had an opportunity to teach much religion at all. They have committed themselves to working to build positive relationships at school and have helped in a difficult high school where many children are in cycles of problematic choices.”

This is what we’re in danger of losing if the current government gets its way. Sadly, the Labor government at both federal and state levels are showing every sign of continuing its discrimination against people of faith. Premier Daniel Andrews in Victoria has announced that: “The Andrews Labor Government is today making the biggest single investment in student mental health in Australian history, delivering the support young Victorians need to grow up both happy and healthy and catching mental health concerns earlier so children aren’t slipping through the cracks in the system. The Labor Government will invest $200 million to expand the successful Mental Health in Primary Schools programme to every single government and low-fee non-government primary school in Victoria – 1800 school campuses. Scaling up across the state from 2023, by 2026 every school will employ a Mental Health and Wellbeing Leader to implement a whole-school approach to wellbeing which will support individual students, help teachers better identify and support at-risk students and build relationships and referral pathways to local mental health services.”

Two hundred million dollars may be a massive financial investment, but it overlooks the excellent work that thousands of people of faith have been doing already. Much like military chaplains in the armed forces, school chaplains provide more holistic care for the person that includes – but also goes beyond – the psychological. We are gradually losing our soul as a nation, especially when we fail to understand people as having been made in the image of God. If the chaplaincy program loses its religious focus our children will not be encouraged to explore deeper issues of faith and meaning, and that will ultimately be to everyone’s loss.

Let's now move on to another disturbing topic….

Ahead of a recent press conference with Greens leader Adam Bandt, a Greens staffer moved the Australian flag out of the TV camera's field of vision. When asked why, Mr Bandt said Australia had “work to do on racism”, and that the flag was “hurtful” to many Indigenous Australians.

This was a classic display of fake guilt by an individual who derides Australia as racist while living sumptuously courtesy of taxes paid by hard-working Australians. Green herbs come in many types, but Dill is the best descriptor for this one! Hannah McGlade – a respected lawyer and lifelong advocate for the human rights of Aboriginal women and children – told The Australian she had known Mr Bandt since law school and he had never shown any interest whatsoever in indigenous issues.

Mr Bandt’s supposed plan to unite the country is to divide, divide, divide… and then divide again. His comment was: “For many people, this flag represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation. Through treaties with First Nations’ people and by moving to a republic, we can have a flag that represents all of us.” From this it would seem that Mr Bandt hopes to convince the majority of Australians to vote for his pet reconciliation projects by insulting them, their history, and their family members who died fighting under the Australian flag. Our flag was good enough for military personnel at Anzac Cove, in Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and in many other places, but not good enough for Mr Bandt to stand beside. One should perhaps note that while he is offended by the Australian flag, he has no issue with the status, salary and privileges provided to him by the Australian people.

Perhaps he felt he needed to double down on the zealotry in some symbolic but pointless form in order to ensure that his recent olive branch to Labor on climate policy wasn’t misconstrued by his constituency as a shift towards reason. Typically, the Greens announce ridiculous policies that are either uncosted or totally unaffordable, safe in the knowledge that they will never win enough votes to have to implement them. It’s not at all surprising that Mr Bandt’s moving of the flag was the only newsworthy thing to come out of his media conference.

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