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View Full Version : chaplains in schools thread 2



qpawn
29-10-2006, 03:43 PM
This is a topic worth revisiting. It now appears that the governmnet is going to allow government schools to apply for chaplains. MP Greg HUnt, the proponent of this scheme, defends any accusations of a church/state conflict by saying that the scheme is voluntary. With all due respect to him, that is a glib and pissweak response. Even if I accept that it is truly "voluntary" and not subtly tied to federal funding etc, there are serious issues here. One, where does the role of a chaplain start and stop in a government school? I mean, if the chaplain speaks at an assembly then he or she will be speaking to atheists, buddhists etc which is surely an intrusion. Two, if the chaplain has any counselling role then what about issues of moral and religious conflict, such as homosexual students, or a female student who gets pregnant? Three, what if teh chaplain expresses objections to aspects of the school curriculum such as evolution? Four, why should money be spent on a religious niche that can be satisfied outside of school hours in the student's own time, when the money could be spent on things that would benefit all students such as giving contract c;leaners more time to do a better job?

The only example of religious content in government schools that I have experienced was the RE [ religious education] content in primary school. There, it was absoilutely clear to parents that they had every right to have their kid not intend; indeed, there were some Malaysian kids who had very different beliefs who spent the time in the library. This program still goes on, to my knowledge; it has a very strictly controlled process for weeding out weirdoes: police check etc. But that whole process was pretty informal; the person's role was defined and there was no counselling. I don't see the issue of chaplains in schools being as clean and unproblematic. It should always be remebered that a religious qualification and vocation is never a substitute for a qualified psychologist/counsellor. To give someone counselling requires the maturity to be objective and not impose be;liefs upon the student; surely a religious bent is the opposite to this.

Southpaw Jim
29-10-2006, 07:53 PM
Without having seen anything beyond the headline, knowing as much as I do about Federal-State financial relations - I don't doubt that there is funding tied to this.

It disgusts me.

However, Australia voted for the little prick. It gets what it deserves - ie, an intolerant, narrow-minded, WASPish view of what Australia and Australian 'values' "should be".

Unfortunately, I suspect that Australia will subject itself to another 3 years of this rubbish come ~Nov 2007.

qpawn
29-10-2006, 09:59 PM
With regret I have to agree with you there Eurotrash; in all probability the Howard government will be returened along with its circus tent of clowns.

Last week that goose Brandis called for a book to be banned in governmnet school libraries because teh academic wrote that Robert Menzies was a "tyrant". Now, Mr Brandis should call for the bible to be banned as well; it is into some real way out stoning in a certain book called Exodus.

Where was Brandis in condeming that Sheik? So, THAT free speech is ok according to Brandis? But saying a bad word about the dear departed pig iron bob is not? Honestly, this twit Brandis is a one-man circus act.

Then you have that shifty little mongrel Nick Minchin. He is the hard-headed strategy man for the liberal party. I would have more trust in Jack the Ripper then that little maggot.

Southpaw Jim
30-10-2006, 07:29 AM
Then you have that shifty little mongrel Nick Minchin. He is the hard-headed strategy man for the liberal party. I would have more trust in Jack the Ripper then that little maggot.

I wouldn't trust anyone who is pushing T3 shares... :lol:

Steve K
30-10-2006, 10:11 AM
Federal funding (up to K$20 PA) for a school councillor is a great idea but the school council must be allowed to choose and appoint/dismiss the person as they see fit. If it's a religious based person so be it. If it is a street smart individual who can relate to street smart kids so be it. The only proviso is that the applicant MUST undergo a through background check.

This Liberal/Family First policy should be a vote winner for the ALP. Here's a chance for Beasley to crack the full toss to the boundary. He should support the idea but insist that the above conditions be applied. Unfortunately Beasley will more than likely get a thick edge and get caught in slips....again.

qpawn
30-10-2006, 10:39 AM
Steve K wrote:

Federal funding (up to K$20 PA) for a school councillor is a great idea but the school council must be allowed to choose and appoint/dismiss the person as they see fit. If it's a religious based person so be it. If it is a street smart individual who can relate to street smart kids so be it. The only proviso is that the applicant MUST undergo a through background check.

************

We will have to agree to disagree here. A counsellor is someone who is properly qualified to deal with student welfare; a religious qualification, in contrast, does not give someone the professional training to work with kids. If all a school ends up with is a chaplain then where does that leave a kid who has a problem but who is entirely uncomfortable with religion? surely that's discrimination against people with other beliefs? And will the chaplain impose his or her moral beliefs on abortion if a kid rockks up pregnant? To counsel someone requires maturity and objectivity.

And yesterday MP Greg Hunt went into a zone that Mark Holden would call goo goo to the max times ten. Hunt sees a reason for chaplains as being the incident in Werribee with the DVD. What on earth is th relevance of that incident? A chaplain would have stopped it happening??? Nonsense. The kids in question need a chaplain? More likely they need a pair of handcuffs. It raises the issue of exploitation of the chaplains: are they being used as some sort of magic cure for the ills of society such as the Werribee incident? It is grossly unfair to expect such magic-wand waving from anybody.

I will be taking political action against the policy of chaplains in schools. More details will be provided in this thread at a later date. It is the second point in a dangerous slippery slope in the church/state overlap. First, we had the Lord's prayer in parliament. Then we had that idiot bishop Fisher come out and ban stem cell treatments in hospitals. [ what the hell has your medical treatmnet or mine got to do with him? Surely it is only a matter for you and your doctor?] Now, we have chaplains in GOVERNMENT schools. What next? Banning classes on evolution because the chaplains don't like it?

The whole policy is a disgrace and the fact that both major political parties support it is a summation of Howard's successful wedge politics of the last 10 years.

Steve K
30-10-2006, 11:51 AM
Do you agree that schools, all schools, should provide counselling services to its students? If your answer is no then we are certainly in disagreement. If you agree that a paid school councillor is a good idea then why shouldn't that councillors be a church representative if that's what the school council want? My preference is that it isn't a religious representative but why should my opinion override the wishes of the school council?

I agree that whoever is appointed must be qualified although I'm not aware of exactly what courses/training is available.

The issue of the Werribee (just down the road from me) DVD incident wasn't the spark for this initiative. It's been proposed for some time now but the Government (as Govt's are prone to do) is making political mileage out of it by being seen to be doing something about the issue. Opportunism? You bet but why would anyone be surprised.

My main worry is that the ALP will screw this up big time and Howard will wipe his boots on them again. To argue that the councillor cannot be a church representative is asking for a beating in the polls. Now that's a serious matter.

qpawn
30-10-2006, 12:07 PM
I thought that the following was clear enough. Since it isn't...

I am surprised at your assumption that school councils make a voluntary choice about getting a chaplain. Surely any notion of "choice" is a half-truth. The Federal government has a political agenda driving this poicy: that of pleasing Senator Fielding to secure his support in the senate. Any school that does not follow this agenda puts further federal funding at risk; every principal knows that. There is also the issue of compulsion for the students at the school. What about their rights? Are they going to be pressured into becoming religious? Either overtly, by the chaplain preaching, or covertly by feeling like an outcast bec uase they can't get religious "counselling" due to a conflict of morals or beliefs.

Lastly, I advise you to be a bit wary of a school council having the "right" to make whatever decisions it wants however silly. That sort of unbridled pseudo-democracy reminds me a lot of what Barry Jones said about being a politician: I am the people's representative but not their delegate.

I add this on becauuse I posted just before you editied your post:

I find any argument that Beazley should fall into line with wedge politics quite ludicrous. First, this is not a poll-trigger issue anyway; Beazley is quite free to express a dissenting or unpopular point of view if he has the courage to do so. Second, the arguments against the blurring of church and state in schools are so easy to attack that someone as bright as Kim Beazley is quite capable, if has the gumption, to articulate them clearly.

Steve K
30-10-2006, 12:36 PM
I find any argument that Beazley should fall into line with wedge politics quite ludicrous. First, this is not a poll-trigger issue anyway;

It will be if Beasley takes it on


Beazley is quite free to express a dissenting or unpopular point of view if he has the courage to do so. .

I'm almost sure he'll botch this up


Second, the arguments against the blurring of church and state in schools are so easy to attack that someone as bright as Kim Beazley is quite capable, if has the gumption, to articulate them clearly.

Strongly disagree - his track record in complicating simple ideas is boundless.

I hate to be the one to bring you this newsflash but an issue like this will blow up in the ALPs collective faces. There will be plenty of voters who will be offended if church representatives are prevented from applying for these positions and not all of those who will be offended will be church going people. As I said in my initial post there is a way that the ALP can benefit from this and it is a low risk approach. Your strategy is high risk and IMO will ultimately harm the ALPs chances at the 2007 poll.

Southpaw Jim
30-10-2006, 12:53 PM
I'm not happy about my tax dollars funding something that is essentially religious (notwithstanding the assertion that the parents apparently get to choose). Moreover, it seems to be a Federal move to circumvent the role of State-employed school counsellors.

Steve K
30-10-2006, 01:08 PM
I'm not happy about my tax dollars funding something that is essentially religious (notwithstanding the assertion that the parents apparently get to choose). Moreover, it seems to be a Federal move to circumvent the role of State-employed school counsellors.

I'm not happy about my tax dollars funding all sorts of things (e.g. an illegal war in the Middle East) but that's the prerogative of Governments. With the level of community general awareness of issues such as the incidence of youth suicide, religious intolerance, bullying, and child molestation and ... (please enter your own issues in this space) ... it will be seen by the community as a good initiative to provide funding for schools to employ a councillor. To oppose the idea outright will be a political error. It is important in principle to support the idea and it is important in particular to argue that each school community should have a major say on who is appointed and whether that person will be a church representative or not.

The issue of withholding Federal funding is not to be taken seriously. Yes, there'll be an idiot or three on the Government's side that will talk about withholding funding but Howard’s too smart to go down that road.

It's also important to remember that there will be no compulsion to use the service.

qpawn
30-10-2006, 01:11 PM
Better for Beazley to stand up for something for once even if it is "high risk". I guess that is like that cliche that it's better "to die on your feet rather than live on your knees".

Beazley should say the following:

The labor party supports more funding for qualified school counsellors who can benefit all students; not chaplains who cater to a small niche group.

***********

Beazley does have some ability to coin a phrase: wheat for weapons being a good example. He did ok with his opposition to nuclear power; that was articulated well. His communicative abilities are not to be underestimated.

Steve K
30-10-2006, 01:12 PM
I'm not happy about my tax dollars funding something that is essentially religious (notwithstanding the assertion that the parents apparently get to choose). Moreover, it seems to be a Federal move to circumvent the role of State-employed school counsellors.

Who are the state-employed counsellors?

Steve K
30-10-2006, 01:13 PM
Better for Beazley to stand up for something for once even if it is "high risk". I guess that is like that cliche that it's better "to die on your feet rather than live on your knees".

Beazley should say the following:

The labor party supports more funding for qualified school counsellors who can benefit all students; not chaplains who cater to a small niche group.

***********

Beazley does have some ability to coin a phrase: wheat for weapons being a good example. He did ok with his opposition to nuclear power; that was articulated well. His communicative abilities are not to be underestimated.

Now we are almost in agreement although I wouldn't call it a niche group. And I don't believe that to die on one's feet is as smart as living to fight another day.

sigh

qpawn
30-10-2006, 01:18 PM
I think taht the issue of federal funding is to be taken seriously. Look at some of the threats to withdraw funding that the federal governmnet has already held over the states: Scoresby freeway, flagpoles in schools, school report cards, history being taught how Howard wants it. This government's track record of fiscal bullying is appalling. If I were a principle of a school I would be very concerned.

Howard leads a very extreme big L liberal party; he has got rid of and/or marginalised the moderates. There is enough extremism there to withdraw funding from schools that don't do it "his way".

antichrist
30-10-2006, 01:19 PM
over the last decade Howard has cut fantasic important programs that only cost a few million a year, now he wants to waste 90 million on religious rubbish - anything to get votes.

qpawn
30-10-2006, 01:30 PM
State-employed counsellors come in 2 main forms. Let's take Mt Eliza Secondary College as an example; it is near where I live so I know this school well. There is a school "welfare officer" there who handles student issues like the uniform, study problems etc: the run of the mill stuff. This person is a teacher and, as far as I know, employed full time by the school. Their qualifications usually include a dip of ed, a degree and a specialist counselling diploma and/or degree in social work, applied counselling, adolescent health etc. Then there is the psychologist. He or she is contracted out by the school and comes in, say, once a week. I suppose that in a technical sense this person is not "employed" by the school. This person has done the whole box and dice of internship etc. They handle any heavy stuff. If someone wants to jump out of a three storey window, has jusy tipped boiling water over a fellow classmate, or is on drugs, then the psychologist will deal with it. Of course there may be additional services used in some cases such as the police, psychiatrists etc. Of course there is some overlap between the two roles; the welfare officer may handle some bullying but if the bullied person decides to harm him or herself physically then the psychologist comes into play.

Mt Eliza Secondary College is very lucky to have a full-time welfare officer and a consulting psychologist. I am sure that some schools are not so lucky. Surely, those unlucky schools deserve someone who can benefit all students; not just a small group.

Steve K
30-10-2006, 01:36 PM
If I were State premier (ALP) or Kim Beasley I'd LOVE the Government to declare that it would link funding with school chaplains. "Bring it on" I'd say. This is a very different issue than flagpoles in schools, school report cards, the teaching of Oz history and the like - it is easy (and dishonest) to argue that it's unAustralian to adopt certain positions. Religion in schools is not a similar argument. The funding that will be withheld will be the K$20 and that in itself will be a risky strategy.

arosar
30-10-2006, 01:42 PM
I'm not happy about my tax dollars funding all sorts of things (e.g. an illegal war in the Middle East) but that's the prerogative of Governments.

Yeah? Well how about this country's military increasingly becoming expeditionary in nature rather in mainly defensive? We are buying large Boeing aircraft (not adequately publicly debated, btw) to transport all sorts of stuff from Australia to other regions of the world. In particular, we'll be transporting M1A1 Abrams tanks which, although the most impressive weapons platform of its type in the world, will likely never be used in anger on behalf of this country. And how about our purchase of helicopter carriers? How about the JSF? Cost for that has is ballooning!

All this apparently to be more interoperable with Americans.

AR

Steve K
30-10-2006, 01:45 PM
... Mt Eliza Secondary College is very lucky to have a full-time welfare officer and a consulting psychologist. I am sure that some schools are not so lucky. Surely, those unlucky schools deserve someone who can benefit all students; not just a small group.

The schools my children attended did not have that luxury. It's not a question of luck it's a question of income/fees/funding and how available funds are then spent. Making K$20 that could only be spent on counselling available is a take it or leave it option which I support this. The main questions/concerns I have are How is to provide the service? and whom are they answerable?

arosar
30-10-2006, 01:46 PM
Anyway, to get back on point - a single-faith chaplain should not be allowed. Former NSW premier Bob Carr, on the radio this morning, was correct when he said that this can only lead to two problems: (i) how is the PTA of a school suppose to decide which religion to select? And (ii) there is a clear erosion of here of the separation between church and state.

AR

Steve K
30-10-2006, 01:47 PM
Yeah? Well how about this country's military increasingly becoming expeditionary in nature rather in mainly defensive? We are buying large Boeing aircraft (not adequately publicly debated, btw) to transport all sorts of stuff from Australia to other regions of the world. In particular, we'll be transporting M1A1 Abrams tanks which, although the most impressive weapons platform of its type in the world, will likely never be used in anger on behalf of this country. And how about our purchase of helicopter carriers? How about the JSF? Cost for that has is ballooning!

All this apparently to be more interoperable with Americans.

AR

No arguement from me but start your own thread if you want to branch out from the schools discussion.

Oh, I see that you've now brought it back on line.

I'm at work today so I'm looking forward to listening to the analysis later today. It's a pity Carr is making sooooo much money out of politics as he'd have been a great Federal representative.

qpawn
30-10-2006, 02:52 PM
Bob Carr has made a good point that has occurred to me also.

What happens to school students with other beliefs? I once lived next door to a family of seventh day adventists. They were peaceful, normal people with whom I got on despite my atheism. Is a chaplain being asked to make his or her religion m0re important than any other system of belief ??? I assume that "chaplain" means a person of the Anglican church. I "assume" becuase like the LPG policy on the run, there has been no thought or clear articulation given to this policy by the Howard governmnet. I can see so many problematic conflicts in this policy. What happens if a kid is found with drugs in his or her bag and the chaplain has a different view from that of the state education department? Will the chaplain be kicked out or what???



By the way I don't subscribe to a point of view that I have heard from some people - that the catholics are breeding so fast that chaplains in schools have to be there to counteract it all.

Desmond
30-10-2006, 03:05 PM
... the catholics are breeding so fast ...I think we all know the reason for that :eek:

arosar
30-10-2006, 03:06 PM
Gentlemen, gentlemen...I wish to share a couple of articles.

First, in the last issue of The Monthly, shadow foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd wrote an essay entitled "Faith in Politics". If you can no longer get this from your newsstands, let me know and I can make arrangements.

Secondly, see this: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060901faessay85504-p0/walter-russell-mead/god-s-country.html

AR

Manny Ordonez
30-10-2006, 04:11 PM
The schools my children attended did not have that luxury. It's not a question of luck it's a question of income/fees/funding and how available funds are then spent. Making K$20 that could only be spent on counselling available is a take it or leave it option which I support this. The main questions/concerns I have are How is to provide the service? and whom are they answerable?
Don't most private schools already have their own chaplans? I am aware of schools that have interfaith chaplans, meaning they offer emotional and personal support for students of all religious backgrounds.

If what is being proposed is along those lines, then I see it as the public system simply catching up.

Oepty
30-10-2006, 05:13 PM
Despite being religous myself I am against this idea unless it can be shown that having chaplins in schools instead of non religous counsellors provides a specific benefit. If it can be proven that there is a significant proportion of students would only discuss certain non religous issues only with a chaplin then they should be there. Examples could be that it is discovered that students would only speak to a chaplin, and no other person, if they or a friend was contemplating suicide, or they were being abused, sexually or otherwise. Unless something like this can be proven then keep them out of schools. Even if something like this could be proven there would need to be very strict controlls. One of these would be that students could only bring issues to the chaplin, not the chaplin bringing issues to the school, no preaching allowed.
Scott

qpawn
30-10-2006, 05:44 PM
Freddy:

Despite being religous myself I am against this idea unless it can be shown that having chaplins in schools instead of non religous counsellors provides a specific benefit. If it can be proven that there is a significant proportion of students would only discuss certain non religous issues only with a chaplin then they should be there. Examples could be that it is discovered that students would only speak to a chaplin, and no other person, if they or a friend was contemplating suicide, or they were being abused, sexually or otherwise. Unless something like this can be proven then keep them out of schools. Even if something like this could be proven there would need to be very strict controlls. One of these would be that students could only bring issues to the chaplin, not the chaplin bringing issues to the school, no preaching allowed.
Scott

********
I wish that I written the above. It sums up my viewpoint so well that I don't need to wtite any more.

I will add that there have been problems with religious ministers in private schools in my area. In one case a preacher came along and performed this ceremony where students had to lie down and go "unconscious" as part of their faith. Many parents were disturbed by this and it was reported in the papers. It shows how careful you have to be with religion. Freddy is right. IF chaplains are going to be in schools there must be more tham mere guidelines; the chaplain should have to sign something that they are not going to interfere in the tecahing of evolution etc. This is absolutely reasonable to ask; in private schools that are religious the corollary is done - teachers who are not religious sign a contract saying that they will not interfere in the religious running of the school. And come to think of it a similar contract is signed if you do volunteer work for the salvation army; you are not required to be religious but you sign a contract that you won't sdo anything against their religion etc.

What disturbs me a lot about this proposal is that there is so much that has NOT been ruled out by Greg Hunt et al. Communion in schools hasn't been ruled out. Speaking at a general assembly hasn't been ruled out. Imposing moral beliefs onto students such as abortion, gay rights etc hasn't been ruled out.

This whole issue is a typical example of the decline of the quality of political "debate" over the ten years of the Howard government. All a governmnet has to do to get votes is to spew out wishy washy claptrap about the incident in Werribee and chaplains somehow being moral saviours of it all. No substance. No newspaper column becuase Howard's spin doctors and Nick Minchin have advised against it. After all, in this age of 30 second spin who needs debate any more in politics? Nobody has any attention span anymore for debate. Everything is instant. So too should the citizen's political life involve instant gratification delivered in a 30 second news grab. I add here that I am just as critical of many intellectuals in this country for letting John Howard get away with yet another pea-brained policy. Where is Robert Manne? Nowhere. He could do something useful and discuss this issue of church/state riights. But nope. He's speaking garbage on the 7:30 report. Or he has his head still stuck in Quadrant.

And if anybody diasgrees with me about the quality of debate I will say this. In the Hawke Peacock debate at least the environment got a guernsey. Where the heck is the environmental debate now?? And that statement on interest rates always being lower under a liberal governmnet; if I wrote that in a year 12 economics exam paper the sixth letter of teh alphabet would be scrawled across my script. Yet, Howard got away with such nonsense again. :mad:

Southpaw Jim
30-10-2006, 09:00 PM
Who are the state-employed counsellors?

Our state system has school counsellors and social workers. They might be shared between several schools, but generally in a close geographical area. I don't suggest for a minute that this system is perfect, far from it - a friend of mine is a school social worker and is perpetually overworked.

Why do we need chaplains - why not pump this money into the existing systems? The answer is that Howard's government, as in many other areas, is pushing their own specific policy agendas through tied funding. This is happening across the board - health, education, indigenous issues, industrial relations, water management, etc.

Howard et al love putting money into restrictive agreements that don't seek to obtain outcomes, and then when things don't work out they can throw their hands up and say "we gave buckets of money to the State governments and look how they've squandered it". The problem is that the States are so busy trying to meet the administrative and procedural requirements forced upon them to get the funding, that they can never actually achieve anything.