Monday, 26 March 2018
Statements by Members
School Chaplaincy Program
I wish to talk about school chaplaincy. There are 129 schools in the electorate of Mallee. A lot of those schools are reasonably stressed in their budget, but one of the things they are very passionate about is the School Chaplaincy Program. In 2014, in the 44th Parliament, we were able to dedicate ongoing funding to chaplaincy and I look forward and hope we will see it funded in the forthcoming budget.
I have written to the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, and passed on multiple letters from all those schools. It surprises me: Mallee is not particularly religious. However, we need to be clear that the chaplaincy program, when it's run in Victoria, is not a religious program; it is actually working with students. Had those students in those country towns not had a chaplain, they wouldn't have had someone to go to, someone to talk to or someone who's in their corner when they're going through difficult times.
The chaplaincy program must be funded in the next budget. It is so worthwhile. It is something that I hope will be supported in a bipartisan sense, and we must work with students and travel with them on the journey of life. When you're a country student, there often aren't the services available. When I started as a member of parliament, we had no headspaces in Mallee. We now have three—they are very welcome—but we'd like to see the chaplaincy program funded in the next budget. I think it would be a good thing to fund.