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School Chaplaincy Was Bound to Blow Up

August 14, 2011

And if today’s report proves right it has: a Queensland chaplain organizing a lecture by a creationist to argue against evolution in the school where your tax dollars pay for him to be chaplain.

It is common sense. If you give a religious fundamentalist access to a school to counsel students, it is only a matter of time before he gives into the temptation to corall a few young converts on the way. While he is, in effect, on the taxpayer payroll.

De-fund school chaplaincy in the next budget.

  1. Paul hamilton permalink
    August 14, 2011 3:18 pm

    Defund and eject please

  2. August 14, 2011 4:40 pm

    Could you provide a link to the story? I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      August 14, 2011 5:36 pm

      Heard it ABC radio news 8am or 9am.

      • jayjay permalink
        August 14, 2011 6:17 pm

        We are still waiting for a better theory of the creation of our species. Evolution theory is an opinion with too many unanswered questions and gaps in evidence.

      • August 14, 2011 8:25 pm

        Without meaning offense, I think you should really look into the wealth of evidence that there is for evolution. Just to be clear, a theory in science doesn’t mean a “guess”, it’s the name given to an overall idea about a series of facts. The facts of evolution number in, quite literally, their millions now.

        A great place to start is Neil Shubin’s book “Your Inner Fish”, which details not only some wonders of evolution, but also some interesting tidbits.

    • CrazyHorse permalink
      August 14, 2011 9:43 pm


  3. Peter permalink
    August 14, 2011 4:59 pm


    Please keep up your public comments against the Schools Chaplaincy Program. We need more public intellectuals to enter this debate on the secular side of the argument. I can understand the Machiavellian mind of John Howard with its divide and conquer logic would introduce quasi clerics into public schools but am totally amazed that the Labour Party under Mr Rudd and Miss Gillard have said “me too”. If you ever need an example of how the ALP has lost it social democratic soul this is it. I had voted Labor all my life but in the light of the Chaplaincy program even a good Labor local member will not dissuade me from voting (in protest) for the Secular Party.

    • Jayel permalink
      August 14, 2011 9:13 pm

      I’ll second Peter’s request. Please keep up the comments!

  4. August 14, 2011 5:14 pm

    Yep! The concept of “separation of church and state” seems quite reasonable. Why are we still struggling with this idea in Australia?

    I want a refund for that part of my taxes that has gone to pay for religious anything in public schools … or private schools, for that matter.

    At the very least, why don’t I have a box to tick on my tax forms that asks me whether I wish to voluntarily fund religious training in schools?

    Religion is a _personal_ decision. Forcing all tax payers to subsidise any religion debases that religion to the status of “rent-seeking single-interest party”, involved in grubby, self-interested, partisan, political mud wrestling that passes for governance these days in Australia.

    This does no good for the religions involved, and certainly no good for society.

    • Shimano6000 permalink
      August 14, 2011 6:07 pm

      Yawn. The chaplains might hale from the Christian faith but we don’t proselytise. If the Church is representing its faith well then social concern for the poor and suffering is actually a major part of our focus. I work in a school, within a community, with heaps of housing commission (not in itself a problem) but heaps of broken families struggling with alcohol, violence and drugs. Kids who are not cared for, abused, ignored and downtrodden. As soon as you come with a better program than chaplaincy that allows adults other than teachers (who have authority) and counsellors (who have an agenda but also a stigma – they are the counsellor) an adult in their life who shows them acceptance, without agenda, and at times, will be the parent they deserve (as in will sit down and listen and even just play a game with them) then I am looking forward to your involvement and tax money 🙂

      • August 14, 2011 7:08 pm

        There is one. It’s called Ethics. Please stop pretending that only religious workers can care about children or befriend them, or give them moral support.

      • Barb permalink
        August 14, 2011 9:04 pm

        A better program is simply having more support workers in schools. Teacher aides and counsellors. I do understand what you mean by the “stigma” that some counsellors have, but I find this to be to certain individual counsellors. I personally would never have gone anywhere near the chaplain at my school, because I didn’t want to go anywhere near someone who I found to be way too happy to mention god whenever possible infront of the whole, forced to be there, school (at a public, non-religious school). Also, at least counsellors usually have actual qualifications. A lot of issues such as say, depression and domestic violence, that chaplains try to help youths with, are things that
        should be seen to by an actual councellor. While I understand why you mention “sitgma” in relation to councellors… I’m curious as to what this “agenda” they have is. I’m pretty certain the religious agenda of particular chaplains is more notable that any agenda of councellors.

      • Jayel permalink
        August 14, 2011 9:09 pm

        And if you and the religious employing authorities were truly concerned about providing the best help for the kids you would open the position up to people with experience and qualifications, regardless of faith or lack thereof. Instead, SU, Access Ministries and other employing authorities limit applicants to people who agree to and operate under their aims and working principles, which openly state evangelism, their statement of beliefs, and/or one or more of the creeds of the Christian Church (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed and/or Athanasian Creed). You cannot claim to be without an agenda if you are employed under these conditions.

        Then there’s the problem of why religious people are considered so much better at helping out kids than non-religious people…

      • August 14, 2011 10:22 pm

        Simple. Remove the religious requirement and call them Pastoral care workers (or ‘pasties’ 😉 ).
        It’s the religious requirement and at the same time the ‘we don’t proselytise’ ‘rule’ which is the clearly insidious bit. We simply can’t trust anyone who abides by clearly conflicting rules

      • Shimano6000 permalink
        August 15, 2011 7:02 am

        Jayel, you could sit down and question my qualifications as a chaplain but that would be a disappointing exercise for you in the end. However, can you tell me what training you need to sit down and play Uno with a child who has no caring adult in their life? You going to leave your current employment and do it? I was working in IT before doing this. I wanted to make a more significant contribution than what I was. What qualifications do you need to coordinate a roster of people from the churches to make morning tea for staff to encourage them in their work in a tough environment? Maybe mine help, but I doubt it.

      • Rhonda Cale permalink
        August 17, 2011 4:12 pm

        What “agenda” do you infer to the counsellor role? – please explain and qualify this inane comment

    • Shimano6000 permalink
      August 18, 2011 6:42 am

      Agenda is not always evil. You have an agenda in an organised meeting. The counsellor has an agenda to help move the person they are counselling through current issues in to a healthier place where either issues are resolved or strategies are formed to cope. Stating as I did that counsellors have an agenda (and acknowledging it as a good agenda) hardly makes it inane. As a chaplain I have an agenda as well. It is to be an adult male in their life that doesn’t reject them or write them off. I don’t and shouldn’t have the same agenda as our school counsellor (and I make that clear when I meet with parents). But some people (as in the case this week) need a safe place to talk while they do the single parent thing with a child who won’t see his 10th birthday because of cancer. This parent is seeing a counsellor, but they were keen to just have a place where they could chat, and their child to have an adult male to be around because their Dad has bailed. Hardly an insidious agenda, especially when it is the community asking for it, not me seeking it. I don’t need to seek people to speak to. Some of you (and I am not directing this at Rhonda) because of your anti-God/anti-church “agenda” are just failing to accept that in some communities and schools, the church and chaplains are actually representing what they believe well and having a positive impact. Maybe we should get rid of the police because their exist corrupt police? Maybe we should get rid of Dr’s because some of them are incompetent? Maybe you should just start focusing on the major issues that have a created a need for chaplains such as poverty, alcohol, gambling and drug abuse. Maybe if you guys could fix that stuff, then we’ll be out of a job 🙂

  5. Shimano6000 permalink
    August 14, 2011 5:17 pm

    Hang on. Not all us chaplains think this appropriate!

    • August 14, 2011 5:39 pm

      Doesn’t matter if you think it’s appropriate. We don’t think that your tax-funded position is appropriate.

      • Shimano6000 permalink
        August 14, 2011 6:00 pm

        As per below. Speak to the schools. You going to spend time with troubled children who are abused, don’t have breakfast, are bullied, are ignored and observe self abuse from parents, and be an adult in their life and who encourages them, cares about their opinions and views and reinforces an opposite message about their worth? I imagine from your comment you would rather the former happen than the later?

      • August 14, 2011 7:11 pm

        Actually I’ve seen in done in rural Australia. The breakfast programmes and after-school programmes in many schools have nothing to do with religion and yet the counsellors are there to do all of these things. And yet an ignorance persists that putting childrens’ welfare first requires religion? How sad. And how exclusionary for the many caring parents who are not religious.

  6. lincoln liffey permalink
    August 14, 2011 5:46 pm

    Chaplaincy, as I understand it, should provide support, comfort – a receptive ear – to students and teachers alike.Because a few chaplains err, does it mean we should ‘can’ the whole program? The Salvos do fantastic work. They do it openly in Jesus’s name. Should we ban them from providing support, comfort – a receptive ear – in disaster disaster zones? The armed forces have chaplains. If they are paid for in a government budget should they be banned?

    • August 14, 2011 9:07 pm

      The NSCP is a gigantic waste of money. It maligns minority religions, denominations, and non-believers by ensuring only the most prevalent religious beliefs get a representative chaplain. Every effort to hire a suitable (religious) person must be exhausted before the schools can consider better qualified people who do not profess the “correct” religious belief.

      Then, once obtaining the position, chaplains are barred from acting religious. Given they have been hired on the basis of their religion (against section 116 of the constitution) rather than their qualification, what exactly are they supposed to do?

      No wonder Tim Mander says their mantra is “refer, refer, refer, and when in doubt, refer”. Religious people may not be have the necessary skills to help troubled children, or recognise the signs indicating professional help is required.

      The program in its current state is discriminatory, divisive, and dangerous – it must be scrapped immediately.

      • August 17, 2011 8:46 am

        Andrew, the late addition by Gillard, long after the NSCP was launched, allowing a handful of schools to fill the chaplain position with a non-religious person, was not a provision that applied to the majority of schools.

        Gillard introduced this as a sop to the ALP dissenters in the Left when Rudd came to the Lodge.

        To raise it as if it were a constant provision, from the start, is to fundamentally misunderstand where it came from, when and why.

        Even when Gillard introduced this, it did not form part of the general information but was hidden and DEEWR had to write to schools to let them know about it.

        It is highly unlikely that this stop-gap solution will continue once Garrett finally releases the results of the ‘community consultation’ he is currently hiding from us all.

    • August 14, 2011 10:26 pm

      That’s all great, but remove the religious requirement and no-one would complain. It’s this ‘don’t you care about kids!’ argument which is the really nasty bit. The IDEA of semi-trained helpers who are simply nice people is great, since we can’t afford councilors in every school. But the religious requirement is insidious on many many levels.

      • August 17, 2011 8:37 am

        Cameron, how is it that we can afford a school principal in every school and do not seek to fill those positions with a school chaplain with little more than ‘God given gifts’?

        How do we afford police officers?

        How do we afford civil engineers to build bridges?

        Who says ‘we cannot afford a counsellor in every school’?

        Repeating the shibboleth of ‘can’t afford’ is unhelpful. But do we ‘need’ them? No one really knows for sure because no research is done into what
        schools need.

        That might be a starting point, finding out what schools need, within the ‘secular public school’ model, and then funding that.

  7. Shimano6000 permalink
    August 14, 2011 5:56 pm

    How about you spend some time speaking to principals who are happy to have chaplains in their school and ask them why?

    • Jayel permalink
      August 14, 2011 9:12 pm

      In the case of my kids’ school all they want is “an extra pair of hands” (exact words) and they don’t care how they get it. Nor did the principal attempt any meaningful consultation with the parent body. It was a handful of church-goers who pushed it through.

      • Rhonda Cale permalink
        August 22, 2011 5:00 pm

        Jayel, the “extra pair of hand” argument was strongly articulated at our school recently when the NSCP debate re-reared its ugly head. I have to say our school – like most, i presume, is desperate for additional support and resources so that argument held quite a bit of sway with the parent and community body. However, your principal was extremely remiss for not engaging in any appropriate community consensus on this issue – if you look into the QCPC guidelines i believe it is written into the policy that the consultation process must engage all members of the parent/community body – let them know you are not happy with the process – or lackthereof

    • CrazyHorse permalink
      August 14, 2011 9:18 pm

      “speaking to principals who are happy to have chaplains in their school” would invoke ‘confirmation bias’, as was the case with the often cited survey that found “98% of principals who like having govt-funded chaplains wanted govt-funding for chaplains”. Doh!

      Would you advocate speaking to families in those same schools – or any school – who appose chaplaincy?

    • August 14, 2011 10:30 pm

      Of course they’re happy. I’ve no doubt most chaplains do a great job and who would protest a free helper? That’s not the point at all though is it. Just remove the religious requirement and name association. No, changing the name from chaplain is not going too far because it’s evangelising through association which is underhanded and frankly, creepy.

    • August 15, 2011 2:36 am

      The position should be funded by the school, school community (parents, ect), and the church(s) where the school(s) reside. There is no need for government funds.

      I suspect that if the above have to fund the program themselves, all of a sudden the chaplains wont be needed as much if at all.

      If government funds are to be used then, the ‘requirement’ of faith should be removed, and the best available applicant get the position, no matter the faith or lack thereof.

  8. Ian Milliss permalink
    August 14, 2011 9:14 pm

    Children do need support. That is exactly what the money wasted on the chaplaincy program should be used for. Right now it is simply a back door way of funneling public money to religions while allowing them access to prey on vulnerable children. I really don’t understand what Labor thought it was doing in continuing this corrupt program. Yes, can the whole program, the Salvos like all the other are basically about looking after themselves and perpetuating their delusional and predatory organisation.

  9. Paul permalink
    August 14, 2011 10:07 pm

    Speak to the principals in the schools where the chaplains are – they are more than happy for them to be operating in the schools, providing support that other people cannot.

    • Jayel permalink
      August 14, 2011 11:22 pm

      <> ????

      Why can’t they? Oh, that’s right…only religious people can do that!

    • Vance permalink
      August 15, 2011 11:20 am

      Paul, who are you to decide what other people can or can’t do?

  10. lincoln liffey permalink
    August 14, 2011 10:54 pm

    Bob: Remind me again how many Australians declare a belief in God? And how many pay taxes? And therefore what’s wrong with Govt funded chaplaincy?

    • Bob Carr permalink
      August 15, 2011 6:43 am

      Separation of church and state.

      Logic of your position is that the state should fund more church activity than just chaplains in schools.

    • August 15, 2011 2:57 pm

      That’s depends is you mean BELIEF in God or whether they marked down what RELIGION they ‘are’. The census question is extremely leading ‘what religion is the person’ with ‘no religion’ underneath the ‘other’ box. Plus this doesn’t actually ask whether they believe in God as a concept as some do with no religion also. Most people will put down what they were born into, but if you had a simple ‘Do you believe in a God or Gods?’ I think you’ll find a large discrepancy.

  11. Maria permalink
    August 15, 2011 5:39 am

    As a teacher and parent I’m aware of 100s of examples of subversive activities by chaplains. Yes, many are well meaning and helpful. Not the point. It’s true that principals are happy for extra help however they can get it. It’s also true that many principals have a religious perspective and are happy to turn a blind eye or facilitate the backdoor missionaries. Consultation with parents is poor – most parents who would object are from non-christian backgrounds, often migrants and refugees – fearful of school authorities and of speaking out.

  12. August 15, 2011 5:07 pm

    When you have been in a cult for ten years and lost your mind you wont think that chaplains are so great. When you come out of that cult and turn to the person your school has taught you, you can trust and they rape you. You wont think chaplains are so great.

  13. lincoln liffey permalink
    August 15, 2011 8:11 pm

    The issue here is that one known incident prompted Bob to call for a stop in Govt funding of chaplaincies. If chaplains step outside the boundaries of their employment contract, that should be dealt with in the same way as one would deal with a teacher, social worker etc. But to call for the elimination of chaplaincy based on one incident is disingenuous. Let’s stay with the real issue – church and state; one belief system versus another. Let’s not be reductionist. That’s a journalist’s trait. Not a thinker’s.

    • Vance permalink
      August 16, 2011 3:08 pm

      The problems go much further than this incident, as anyone who has been following the issue will know. Adequate boundaries for NSCP chaplains have not been defined, and probably never will. That’s why the program should be scrapped.

    • August 17, 2011 8:50 am

      Lincoln, I think it is fair to say that Bob Carr was opposed to the NSCP from the outset, and said so quite publicly.

      Also, it is clear that NSW, under Mr. carr and others since, do not support chaplains within the NSW education system, since they have none, even now.

      Nile may try to change that but NSW has been a beacon of ‘secular’ public schooling for many years.

      You might want to read a leading Christian view on the role of secular public schools and take a trip to the Hon. Michael KIrby web site to see how a declared Christian agress with Bob carr on the need for secular public schools and the ‘wrongness’ of having school chaplains in public schools.

  14. wearestardust permalink
    August 15, 2011 10:34 pm

    This again points to how, leaving aside the question of whether taxpayers should be paying for chaplains, how essentially incoherent the entire scheme is. Chaplains are selected because of their beliefs, but they are precluded (quite appropriately) from proselytising. They are there to provide support in precisely the situations for which they are generally not qualified. The whole thing is nonsense.

    • August 17, 2011 8:53 am

      Nonsense? Yes, and Justice Gummow went as far to tell the Commonwealth advocate, as he read from the NSCP Code of Conduct, that the document was ‘garbled’, raising quite a ripple of laughter around the courtroom.

      Garbled has to be the starting point, and it goes downhill from there.

  15. August 16, 2011 9:00 am

    The expose of the Gympie high school supporting Creationism as an ‘alternative’ response to what is taught in Science is not an isolated incident by any means. This goes on all over Qld, all the time.

    Premier Bligh and EQ minister Cameron Dick support the teaching of ID and Creationism in our non-secular public schools on the basis that it is up to the school teacher, once the curriculum has been covered, to introduce any other element the teacher believes will enhance the education of the students.

    The ASL have numerous emails from EQ and the QSA, the people who write the curriculum here in Qld informing us of that.

    The High Court challenge participants spent many days discussing the Australian Constitution at Part V, 51, xxiiiA, where the phrase ‘benefits to students’ appears.

    Garrett, Wong, Gillard, Bligh, Dick and Scripture Union all argue that having Creationism introduced by the chaplain is a ‘benefit to students’. You may or may not agree, but that was the position put to the Full Bench.

    It is worth noting also, that the chaplain at Gympie also teaches ‘Religious Education’:

    Apart from the fact that there is no such subject taught in any Qld public school, there is only Religious Instruction, it is worth noting because Scripture Union have been at pains to tell the world that chaplains are not connected to and have no part in the provision of RI in state schools.

    Again, this is a widespread, consistent, role that chaplains do undertake in our non-secular public schools.

    One facet of this debate that becomes clear to any long term observer is the lack of truth and transparency on the part of governments involved.

    It would be far more productive if people concentrated on the role of ‘secular’ public schools in the creation of the particular brand of democracy we enjoy here in Australia, and stopped pretending that ‘only’ a chaplain can provide a ‘breakfast club’, something that existed in schools long before chaplains and the NSCP came along.

    Mr Carr is consistent in his cry of ‘church and state’, and is correct in this focus. That is the starting point for this debate, not ‘listening ears’ or ‘breakfast clubs’, all of which, if indeed they serve any useful purpose, can be provided in myriad ways.

    However, as far as breakfast clubs go, the ASL has been unable to find any dietician prepared to support a ‘white toast and jam-vegemite’ style of breakfast as being a suitable start for the day. REcent reports on Radio National even suggest that this sort of breakfast sets students up for long term problems leading up to lunch, making the problems that ‘breakfast clubs’ hope to remedy, even worse.

    The problem is that no research, none, has been conducted on anything to do with the NSCP by any government, and Rudd, Gillard & DEEWR relied only on the ECU survey and incidental anecdote to justify the $43m and the $222m of taxpayers monies.

    There was a considerable amount of ‘fudge’ delivered to the Full Bench by some of the defendants, but there was also considerable evidence to feel that our Justices do not take kindly to ‘fudge’.

    We live in hope.

  16. August 16, 2011 1:43 pm

    My best friend from school is in a cult. She wont talk to me because I apparently have DEMONS. Her two sons are homeschooled as she does not want them to be posessed by the ‘World Spirit’ and end up in HELL. How many cults are in Australia? Hundreds! All Chaplains do is prime kids up for predators. Kids need to be taught not to trust such people. There would be thousands of stories just like mine. Only problem is you will never hear about them as they end up in the Mental Health System sedated on enough medication to tranquilize a horse! Or stuck in the sick cult for the rest of their lives. Too scared to speak or leave lest they burn in the eternal fire of Gods WRATH.

  17. August 16, 2011 1:50 pm

    My best friend from school is in a cult. She wont talk to me because I apparently have DEMONS. Her two sons are homeschooled as she does not want them to be posessed by the ‘World Spirit’ and end up in HELL. How many cults are in Australia? Hundreds! All Chaplains do is prime kids up for predators. Kids need to be taught not to trust such people. There would be thousands of stories just like mine. Only problem is you will never hear about them as they end up in the Mental Health System sedated on enough medication to tranquilize a horse! Or stuck in the sick cult for the rest of their lives. Too scared to speak or leave lest they burn in the eternal fire of Gods WRATH.

  18. August 16, 2011 10:06 pm

    It would help if people actually understood what the term ‘secular’ meant when it was included in the first Education Acts. Henry Parkes was one of those behind the push for public education. The Public Instruction Act 1880 was his work.

    Here’s the guts of the Act:

    7 Secular instruction

    In all schools, the teaching shall be strictly non-sectarian but the words ‘secular instruction’ shall be held to include general religious teaching as distinguished from dogmatical or polemical theology.

    17 Hours for secular instruction

    (1) In every school, 4 hours during each school day shall be devoted to secular instruction exclusively and a part of each day, not more than 1 hour, shall be set apart when the children of any one religious persuasion may be instructed by the clergyman or other religious teacher of a religious persuasion but, in all cases, the pupils receiving the religious instruction shall be separated from the other pupils of the school.

    (2) And the hour during which the religious instruction may be given shall be fixed by mutual agreement between the school board in consultation with the principal of the school and the clergy of the district or the other person that may be duly authorised to act in his or her place and any classroom of a school may be used for the religious instruction by like agreement:

    (a) provided that the religious instruction to be so given shall in every case be the religious instruction authorised by the church to which the clergy or other religious teacher may belong; and

    (b) provided further that in case of the nonattendance of any clergy or religious teacher during any part of the period agreed to be set apart for religious instruction the period shall be devoted to the ordinary secular instruction in the school.

    18 Objection to religious instruction

    Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in section 17, no pupil in a school shall be required to receive any general or special religious instruction if the parents or guardians of the pupil object to the religious instruction being given.


    When state schooling was started, ‘secular’ meant that priests of all denominations could undertake religious education at a state school. It was designed to stop the previous practice of only one brand of religion being taught at schools. ‘Secular’ meant a level playing field for all religions in state schools – it did not mean “no religion”. The phrase “strictly non-sectarian” is key.

  19. August 17, 2011 8:20 am

    Henry Parkes had nothing to do with the 1875 Education Act of Queensland though, did he?

    Samuel Griffith visited Victoria and had a look at the situation there just after the settlement of Moreton Bay split from NSW to become Qld. He knew well the problems with the NSW Education Act.

    The result was a much stronger attitude towards ‘secular’ in Qld than anywhere else. There was no RI allowed and no use of school buildings for any religious purpose.

    Briefly, there was an attempt to run RI lessons on school grounds but before/after school.

    This breached the Qld notions of a secular school and were halted.

    There was also a most important ‘clause 5’ that prohibited any non-secular material being taught by the school teacher.

    As with today, Christians were outraged at being excluded from the raw material for filling their pews, and they forced a referendum to introduce both RI and BIble reading, given by the school teacher.

    In 1910 the Yes case won the referendum and all mention of the word ‘secular’ was removed from the Qld Education Act as RI and Bible lessons were introduced.

    Qld still has the Bible lessons, complete with a Y1-7 Bible curriculum, fully supported by the ALP and possible of being used as the model for the Tony Abbott (and Gillard) ambitions to have Bible lessons run in every public school in the land.

    Of course, we still have RI too, like every other state and territory.

    But Qld no longer has a secular public school system, something that Anna Bligh is very proud of and has no intention of changing.

    Had we had a ‘clause 5’ prohibition in our 2011 schools, as we did in 1875, then we would not have Creationism and ID, or Bible lessons, being thrust upon students as a serious attempt at ‘education’.

    Finally, if you want to see a comparable situation, look back to the 1940s in Victoria, when the same Christians sought to remove the ‘secular’ clause from that Act, in order to emulate the Qld situation and turn Victorian schools into extensions of the Christian church, as they are today, in Qld.

    The arguments put then, by a few far sighted Reverends, and others, saw off the attempt but the literature they produced warned Victorians of what would happen if the Christians had their way.

    What they described, in about 1946, is what anyone who wants to look can see in Qld today.

    Yes, there was a particular use of the word ‘secular’ by Parkes, but we had the most advanced secular system, from 1875 to 1910, and that is what we need to return to, a ‘clause 5’ style.

    Secular public education of the 1860s was a genuine ‘education revolution’, something that today’s crop of vote-seeking history deprived politicians would have no comprehension of, particularly Gillard with her vacuous ‘education revolution’ and Bligh with her pandering to the ACL forces in her desperate grasp for continued power.

    Ironically, Bligh is sowing the seeds for Mander to take over as Ed Qlds next minister, and then see just how many chaplains there will be in our public schools.

  20. Kerry Wright permalink
    August 20, 2011 6:25 pm

    As a teacher since 1977 I could see clearly that good role models were losing in many state schools, despite differences from school to school, community to community.

    Most of my dear friends want excellent teachers for their children. None of them want their privileged kids to become teachers.

    There are so many things to consider in why a culture denigrates and downgrades itself and its education system (media, money, drugs, teachers, parents attitudes to education, ratio of excitement outside schools as compared to within, polarization of schools according to income, selective schools draining off the top examples for others to see, even excitement as a cultural more…).

    I asked over a thousand students between 12-16 recently if any of them knew Paris Hilton (all, laughter) Lara Bingle (all, giggles) Brittany Speers (all) Aung San Suu Kyi …. (just one 10 year old girl, on a bus from Annandale).

    I have heard ‘churches’ in the new ‘American Christian’ traditions that are now so popular in some places in Australia now, cheer that ‘We are winning’ by getting the young groovy ‘teachers’ into schools on the Central Coast (where what they were teaching would have made any politician cringe)!

    What is needed is not this old rehashed argument. What is actually needed is clear discussion about where education (and Australian culture) is actually going. For this you have to travel and listen.

    Just as Pauline Hanson was swept in on a wave of popular discontent, so too do we have clear problems approaching from outside the inner city, Eastern and Northern suburbs, Canberra etc. The ‘dumbing down’ process of polarizing our schools and exhausting our teachers is complete.

    Gough Whitlam didn’t grow up with TV. He moved education on tremendously. It is an honor now to be taking some of this progress and growth to India (and Tibetan and Burmese schools). But it is too much now to try to uphold cultural standards in our own schools, too exhausting.

    This needs to be looked at. It is not just about religion and dogma. It is about respect, and realistic models, and some kind of moral authority as a benchmark.

    Ms Gillard started off well, with a long and clear seminar, where teachers from private schools amazingly apologized for their shocking and disproportunate wealth and conditions/resources. Then the Howard model of creating more ill-conceived divisions (eg rewarding ‘good’ teachers – in schools rife with bullying and nepotism!) was adopted! Why continue the car crash, when there are so many older committed brilliant experts from a time of truly high standards still around to advise?

    Good education is not rocket science. It can be achieved with good planning and conscious effort, taking experience and vision into account. Including the teaching of respect.

    Gough (rightly) was disappointed in the final 21st C outcome. Me too.

  21. Peter permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:15 am

    And of course the rot set in for the public system when state aid was extended to parochial schools. Any “planning and conscious effort, taking experience and vision” in government and administrators would have resisted this move or at least imposed the rule that no fees were to be charged nor selective entrance tests imposed (as in Scandinavian countries).

    Fee charging and pupil selection became the filter to set up the ‘poor man’s’ private school leaving the state public system for the secular minded hard core and the economically less advantaged. Now we have the disingenuous situation, due to pupil drift from the state systems, of parochial schools not being essentially schools for the practicing faithful but hybrid public cum private schools with a shallow religious education turning out mostly humanists or people of tepid belief. Meanwhile the cash starved public system has to deal with the “heavy lifting” of the disadvantaged and socially disturbed with a comparison of being education of last resort. This careless and ill thought policy is typically Australian in the ‘she’ll be right mate’ mode. The chaplaincy in public schools program is in the same mode, i.e., a muddle-headed sop to the religious establishments irrespective of how it might impact upon the character of free, compulsory and secular education.


  1. Chaplains « aprimaryteacher

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