School chaplains here to stay

Increased funding for the school chaplaincy programme will be used to extend the reach of chaplains in an effort to stamp out bullying in Australian schools.

The Federal Budget papers released tonight stated the chaplaincy programme is being extended “on a permanent basis”, providing nearly $250 million over four years, with a focus on anti-bullying.

James Flavin, the CEO of Generate Ministries, the biggest provider of school chaplains in New South Wales, told Eternity he believes chaplains are well-placed to tackle bullying head on and says he is pleased by the confidence shown in the programme.

“We’re strongly encouraged by the government’s focus on stamping out bullying in schools. We know there is no one silver bullet for such a big issue, but school chaplains have skills to bring to this, working with school counsellors as well as principals and teachers.”

According to a 2017 report by the National School Chaplaincy Association (NSCA), a network of Christian chaplaincy providers, friendship/peer related issues and bullying are among the most common issues chaplains deal with.

Under the existing National School Chaplaincy Programme, school communities can apply for $20,000 per year to establish or expand chaplaincy services. In 2017, there were 1562 chaplains working in 1929 public schools, according to the NSCA.

Despite the programme’s at times controversial existence, demand for school chaplains still outstrips the funding available, says Generate’s James Flavin.

“The funding will enable schools to continue this valuable programme and we look forward to seeing even more students and their school communities benefiting from the support of a school chaplain,” he said.