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School chaplains program is not fit to support our kids: Greens

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 31 May 2018

Questionable religious organisations using their fringe ideals to treat depression, anorexia, combat bullying and push gay conversion therapy methods are being invited into schools under the Government’s $247 million school chaplaincy program.

“School chaplains are supposed to be prohibited from proselytising, but in Senate Estimates today the Minister wasn’t able to actually explain what this meant,” Greens education spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“If nobody knows what’s prohibited, nothing is prohibited. Schools are not recruiting grounds. They are schools.

“We’ve got school chaplain providers that believe in bizarre, discredited theories around demonic possession, exorcism, gay conversion therapy and that eating disorders are simply ‘hungering for the world of the Lord’.

“And in Estimates today the Minister could not give parents any assurances that their tax dollars weren’t funding this fringe fanatical stuff.

“One in five children and young people are affected by mental health problems and disorders.  Is the best we can do for these kids a school chaplain program delivered by people who believe they can be ‘cured’ by prayer?

“The reality is that the Turnbull Government is spending a quarter of a billion of taxpayers’ dollars on a program that mental health experts say could be making kids worse, not better.

“Kids don’t need exorcisms, they need counsellors.

“The Minister for Education has got no idea if the organisations being paid to provide chaplain services can actually be trusted to support our kids. They’re not counsellors, so we know they’re already not qualified.

“Scrap it and put real counsellors in schools. Australian kids deserve better than this.”

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