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(Please excuse the use of the media release. I agree with it, but am too tired to think of the words right now)

Atheist Foundation of Australia president David Nicholls today expressed deep concern over Prime Minister Gillard’s announcement over the weekend to increase funding to school chaplains by $222 million.

In a submission to the public consultation process about the National School Chaplaincy Program, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) raised concerns about the credentials of many Chaplains providing counselling services as part of the Chaplaincy program in Australian schools.

In their submission they state that the ‘government is supporting a scheme which allows unregistered and unqualified school chaplains to work outside their boundaries as spiritual and religious personnel’[1] and point out that there is clear evidence that school chaplains are engaging in duties for which they are not qualified.

Although the government guidelines state that ‘school chaplains cannot provide services for which they are not qualified, for example counselling services or psychological assessment’[2] it also states that school chaplains are employed to support students for issues such as ‘grief, family breakdown and other crisis situations’[3].

‘Evidence shows that Chaplains with as little as 36 hours training[4] are counselling students and providing funding to support these chaplains is irresponsible and dangerous,’ said David Nicholls.

“There is a reason that Psychologists have a minimum of 6 years training before being able to provide psychological support services and to think that a two day course and belief in an imaginary being will help these children is ridiculous,’ he said.

One of the major providers of school chaplains the Scripture Union of Australia has as one of its aims to “make God’s Good News known to children, young people and families.”[5]

‘Providing funding to a scheme that supports this religious indoctrination in schools is a clear breach of the separation of church and state and atheists, freethinkers and secularists across Australia will be extremely disappointed in Prime Minister Gillard’s conservative and risky stance,’ said David Nicholls.

[1] Australian Psychological Society’s ‘Submission to the Consultation Process for the National School Chaplaincy Program’ July 2010.
[2] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations NSCP ‘FAQ’ page outlining the school chaplain’s roles.
[3] Ibid page 2.
[4] ACCESS Ministry course brochure 2010.
[5] SUA website

See further: http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/.

Funds should go towards appropriately trained teachers, psychologists, social workers or youth workers to provide services such as those outlined above.

Out today (in Australia, anyway), just in time to prep yourself for the upcoming month or so of carols, trees, presents, food and so on.

I also really liked Riayn’s post on the subject. Holidays and celebrations are what you want them to be. I, for one, will be using my Xmas shutdown to visit friends and family in Newcastle, eat pudding and wear silly hats. Noice.

Have had a wonderful easter weekend – sleeping in, cleaning the house, snuggling with Rish, reading up on to reasons atheism makes sense (finally started The God Delusion after having it sitting there for probably a couple of years since Rish first bought it – felt that easter time was a good as time as any!) :) As every long weekend should be, hey? Unfortunately, I spent some of the time with a headache that wouldn’t go away and a stomach that just wasn’t happy. Oh well. Going to Laksa for lunch today, then probably gym this afternoon and a relaxing evening before having tor remember that I do have to go to work in the morning.

I hope you had a good long weekend!

Mutterings:

  1. Animal :: liberation
  2. Temporary :: insanity
  3. Moan :: with pleasure :)
  4. Rapid :: eye movement
  5. That’s for me to say :: and for you to think about
  6. City :: slickers
  7. Bumper :: harvest
  8. Eclipse :: of the heart
  9. Problematic :: trouble
  10. If? :: Else?
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