The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations (Council) welcomes the move away from religious chaplains in ACT public schools. The Council, which represents parents at the Territory’s public schools, recognises that ACT schools must be secular and that the real need is for qualified mental health professionals in our schools.
“Our schools need counsellors, not chaplains,” said Council President Kirsty McGovern-Hooley. “With suicide the leading cause of death among young people in Australia, access to qualified help is imperative.”
“A national program which employs only religious personnel is a misdirection of funding. It takes resources which could be used for qualified social workers, mental health nurses and counsellors in schools to assist students and families.”
“Overwhelmingly, our members have told us that school-based mental health workers should not be affiliated with a religious body. Many parents do not think it is appropriate to have personnel identified as religious in our secular government schools.
“Our schools serve diverse communities and appointing a chaplain of one religion is inappropriate and likely to alienate those of other faiths,” she said.