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July 2014 News

School Chaplaincy future still bright

  • Written by  Ian Anderson
SU Qld CEO Peter James responds to the High Court ruling Photo: AAP

While it seems like local Toowoomba father Ron Williams won his battle against the Government over the School Chaplaincy Program funding, the future remains bright for our school chaplains.

It’s not the first time that Mr Williams has successfully challenged the Government’s decision to fund the Chaplaincy Program. In 2012, the High Court ruled that the Government had exceeded the Commonwealth’s executive spending powers under the constitution.

After a re-shuffle of the funding model by the Gillard Government, the Chaplaincy Program was able to continue. Last month’s High Court ruling means another change is needed, and this time it’s the Abbott Government who will have to reallocate the budgeted $243.5 million to state and territory governments in order to see the program continue.

Scripture Union Queensland CEO Peter James said he was disappointed but not surprised about the outcome.

“I want to stress, this is not an anti-chaplaincy ruling, but rather a ruling about where the balance lies between State and Federal government spending powers,” he said.

“In fact, the High Court’s Chief Justice and four other members of the court have made very positive comments about chaplaincy and how it benefits students.”

One of the comments stated that “provision of [chaplaincy] services will be of benefit to [students]. It will be of ‘benefit’ to them in the sense of providing them with an advantage or a good.”

Mr James said that the current funding for chaplains will continue until the end of 2014.

“The benefit of such a quick decision is that the government can make the corrections to ensure continued funding for our chaplains,” he said. “I will be working hard with the Commonwealth, and other relevant bodies, to put in place a new funding model in time for 2015.”

“What has struck me over this time is the incredible community backing for school chaplaincy, shown through signed statements of support, personal emails, and the countless conversations I’ve had with friends.”

“It has emphasised in me the importance of continuing the work that we do.”

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