Scripture Union Chaplaincy began in 1990 when a group of Brisbane pastors asked local schools if they could employ chaplains to provide pastoral care and support.
Since that time it has grown into a massive youth ministry catering to more than 400,000 students throughout Queensland.
SU Chaplaincy South Queensland coordinator David Jutsum said during the 1990s chaplains were funded entirely by local churches, schools and businesses. Under this model chaplaincy exploded and the government began to recognise its potential.
“It was this incredible movement as schools saw the difference chaplains could make,” David said.
In 2007 the state government provided funds for chaplaincy services and the federal government followed suit, providing enough funds to employ 150 chaplains.
“Almost overnight we employed over 500 chaplains,” David said.
Within four years the government expanded the funding again and another 100-150 chaplains were employed.
Currently more than 67 percent of Queensland state schools have a chaplain.
Since 1990 SU Chaplaincy has also developed a number of youth events including holiday programs, camps and community outreaches and now run more than 100 events a year.
Recently however, the High Court case has presented trials for Australian chaplaincy.
Under the new ruling, government funding is transferred to state governments who transfer it to the school community who are invoiced by SU, rather than the money being paid to SU directly.
David said the challenge for the future will be to ensure SU can continue to support chaplains regardless of the funding model but is confident chaplaincy will continue to play an important role in supporting students.
“The High Court challenge has validated the legitimacy of chaplaincy, and has validated how chaplaincy is meeting key needs of school communities,” he said.
He said one of the key benefits of chaplaincy has been to bring school communities together during crises.
“We’ve seen that in the Bundaberg floods, and in day to day interactions. Chaplains shine in those circumstances.”