Anti-chaplaincy campaigner disputes claims

Ron Williams outside the High Court of Australia. Photo Nelson Lau
Ron Williams outside the High Court of Australia. Photo Nelson Lau Contributed

ANTI-school chaplaincy campaigner Ron Williams has challenged the validity of Scripture Union claims that a record 891 schools have submitted applications for a chaplain.

SU Queensland CEO Peter James said it proved the widespread popularity and effectiveness of the chaplaincy program.

But Toowoomba-based Ron Williams, who successfully challenged the funding of the program in the High Court, disputed the claim saying the applications were from schools who were mostly reapplying.

He said the process was covert, with little or no public consultation.

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"Any reasonable person would expect that the school community would be consulted about it or be put to a parents and citizens' meeting, which it wasn't," he said.

Mr James said the process had proven that Queensland schools valued chaplaincy.

"Despite the many sceptics it's really clear to see that those who know and engage with a chaplain find the program to be a benefit to the school community, its staff, students and families," he said.

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Mr Williams said there was no evidence to say that the chaplaincy model was a positive one.

He said SU, which receives more than $17m in funding, had a conflict of interest and was not qualified to state the benefits of chaplaincy.

"No other bodies support the concept of having religious people handing out what they call general spiritual advice in supposedly secular schools," he said.

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Mr Williams is seeking advice from solicitors on the government's funding arrangements, which became public this week.

"I've been inundated by questions from parents asking what's going on in our schools," he said.

He said guidance officers were the best qualified look after the needs of students.

Topics:  chaplaincy ron williams scripture union toowoomba

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