Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today expressed concern following the release of Government documents that reveal that 8 local schools are at risk of losing their welfare officers due to the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains.
The High Court ruled that it was invalid for payments to be made directly by the Commonwealth to schools under the program, the Federal Government is now giving the money to states and territories to administer, but on the condition it is used to only fund religious chaplains.
“School principals and their communities know what is best for their students – they should be able to make the call on what their students need – not Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott,” Sharon Bird said.
“There was a high level of complains under the religious-only chaplains program put in place by the Howard Government – in Government Labor expanded the program so local school communities had the choice of hiring a qualified welfare officer or counsellor, not just a religious chaplain.
“Local welfare officers have trusted relationships within the school community. The interests of students should be the focus – not Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott’s radical ideology,” Stephen Jones said.
“The Government needs to advise what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that students interests remain of utmost importance.
*Link attached with each of the 452 schools across Australia who have employed welfare offices attached. Schools with welfare officers are marked with SWW under Worker Type column: http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/eet_ctte/estimates/bud_1415/Education/Answers/ED0237_15_attachmentA.pdf