Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Legislation Committee
Thursday 18 October 2012
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Senator WRIGHT: These questions are in relation to the National Schools Chaplaincy program, which I think is program 2.3.
Can you tell me, please, under this program, what are the key responsibilities and functions of chaplains? For instance, what role are they intended to fulfil in schools?
Mr Sheedy: The functions are set out in the guidelines for the program which have been renewed for the program that began this year. The roles and responsibilities are set out in some detail in section 3.1 of those guidelines. Just reading from the beginning of that section, it says that 'school chaplains and student welfare workers are responsible for supporting the spiritual, social and emotional wellbeing of their students'. There is more detail in the guidelines, but the way in which those functions are performed are dependent on the wishes of the school and the school community.
Senator WRIGHT: What sort of qualifications and professional experience is required of chaplains?
Mr Sheedy: The minimum qualification to be a chaplain for student welfare worker under this program are a certificate IV in either youth work or pastoral care.
Senator WRIGHT: I would like details on the total amount of Commonwealth funding for the program from 2009-10 up to and including this year and then for forward estimates, if that information is readily available.
Mr Sheedy: I have it year by year.
Senator WRIGHT: Is it by calendar year?
Mr Sheedy: No, I have it by financial year.
Senator WRIGHT: Take me through, starting with 2009-10.
Mr Sheedy: For 2009-10 I can tell you the money that was expended in that year. It was $52,576,000.
Senator WRIGHT: And the next year?
Mr Sheedy: In 2010-11 it was $45,310,000.
Senator WRIGHT: What was it for this year?
Mr Sheedy: For this year I will have to add two figures. For this year, if we are talking about 2012-13-
Senator WRIGHT: Actually, I was after 2011-12.
Mr Sheedy: In that case, it was $45,900,000 approximately. Moving on to this current financial year, the budget for this year is $74 million. For this year and for the three-year period of the new program, the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program, there is a total of $222 million available. As of 15 October, $16,409,000 has been expended.
Senator WRIGHT: Thank you for that. Is that program envisaged to continue irrespective of the new funding formulae for schools? Is that a totally separate program that will continue to be funded, as far as you are aware?
Mr Sheedy: A decision will be made in the future-
Senator WRIGHT: But that is not analogous to the other programs we have been discussing which may be rolled into the new school funding or it is not clear whether that is the case or not?
Mr Sheedy: I am not able to comment on that.
Ms Paul: No, because it is not about the teaching. It is a separate program to support pastoral care. So the consideration by government of the future of the program would be made separately.