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Media release: Community support given to chaplains, Constitutional support now being tested

Posted: 09-Aug-2011

Today marks the first day of the High Court challenge to the validity of the National School Chaplaincy Program. While this case is testing the constitutional basis for the program, public support for school chaplaincy is gaining momentum with close to 70,000 statements of support now received by chaplaincy representatives.

Tim Mander, CEO of Scripture Union Qld, the nation’s largest employing authority for chaplains, is in Canberra for the three day hearing, which is largely a matter of constitutional law.

Mr Mander said that the technicalities of the legal arguments are proceeding as anticipated, and that there is large public goodwill for having school chaplaincy as widely available as possible.

Mr Mander said, "Even this week, I've received correspondence from school principals praising the work of chaplains in schools. They don't want to lose their chaplain because they know that chaplains benefit the wellbeing of their school communities."

A parent who made contact with SU QLD this week said, "We are not religious... yet my children both really appreciated having the Chaplains there. They are people who listen without judgement and more importantly... they do it all with an open mind and no pressure."

"The feedback we're getting from the wider community demonstrates that chaplains are there to serve the whole school community and are doing so appropriately," said Mr Mander.

This challenge may also affect other federal funding programs, not just school chaplaincy, so is being watched widely by various parties. The hearing finishes Thursday with a decision expected later this year.

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