620 SCHOOL WELFARE OFFICERS TO BE SACKED FOR LACKING RELIGIOUS CONNECTION

THURSDAY, 28 AUGUST 2014

New Government documents have revealed the 620 schools across Australia whose qualified and trusted welfare officers are facing the sack as a result of the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains.

New Government documents have revealed the 620 schools across Australia whose qualified and trusted welfare officers are facing the sack as a result of the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains.

After the High Court ruling that it was invalid for payments to be made directly by the Commonwealth to schools under the program, the Federal Government is now giving the money to states and territories to administer, but on the condition it is used to only fund religious chaplains.

“It should be up to school principals and communities to decide what support is best for their students – not Christopher Pyne,” Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said.

“These 620 qualified welfare officers who already have trusted relationships in our schools, and the students they support, will be the ones paying the price for this radical move to impose ideology on school communities.”

“The only thing these dedicated, qualified and professional counsellors have done to deserve the sack is not have formal links to a religious institution.”

“It is entirely unjustifiable for the Abbott Government to ram its ideology down the throats of school students across Australia and disempower local school communities who know best what supports are needed for their students.”

Also of concern to Labor is the lack of detail on how standards will be maintained to ensure student interests remain paramount.

“The Government needs to detail how safeguards will be put in place, so we don’t see a return to the high levels of complaints we saw under the religious-only chaplains program set up by the Howard Government,” Kate Ellis said.

Labor previously expanded the program so school communities had the choice of hiring a qualified welfare officer or counsellor. 

*Link attached with each of the schools that have employed welfare offices attached. Schools with welfare officers are marked with SWW under Worker Type column: http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/eet_ctte/estimates/bud_1415/Education/Answers/ED0237_15_attachmentA.pdf