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A letter to my federal House of Reps ALP candidate about School Chaplains

August 15, 2010

I live in the marginal seat of La Trobe in Melbourne’s outer East, held by the Libs with a slim 0.5% majority. Naturally the candidates are campaigning hard, and here more than most, every vote truly counts.

Compelled to act after reading

this-morning I penned the following email to my lower-house ALP candidate, Laura Smyth with whom I have communicated on other issues previously.

Hi again Laura,

I just want to express my extreme horror and disappointment at this absurd policy, itself a desperate attempt to salvage the Christian vote Ms Gillard bravely put on the line when she declared herself an atheist.

My wife is a teacher, and she too is appalled at the ALP’s continued endorsement of this Howard Government relic, pointing out the huge funding short-falls for teaching resources, current large class sizes and lack of qualified councillors. Where literacy and numeracy are apparently primary areas of concern, based on the NAPLAN results, what possible good can come from such an extravagant waste of public funds as this?

I can only hope that schools which decide to accept funding for a Chaplain can put them to good use as a reading-recovery resource or teacher’s aide for small-group activities to assist with the literacy and numeracy goals.

I am sorry, I now have to reconsider my vote all over again – such a shame.

Having attended an Anglican private school in Melbourne, I have no issue with Chaplains per-se. The Chaplains at my school delivered part of the Religious Education program, which they did very well I felt, giving respectful, equal instruction time to all the mainstream faiths. But the thing is, my parents chose to send me to an Anglican school, knowing what was included in that deal. I chose to send my children to a state-funded Community school, free from religious affiliations, because I don’t believe children should be influenced in matters of faith by authority figures, especially at school where peer pressures can become involved. Given the aims of organisations such as the Scripture Union and the Access Ministries, who employ many of these school Chaplains, I find it implausible that they won’t be trying to ‘spread the good word’ to our unsuspecting kids, who deserve to form their own beliefs later in life, unfettered by indoctrination by biased instructors.

I’ve personally never had such difficulty in deciding how to cast my vote, with both major parties seemingly trying to out-strip each-other on ‘stupid’. Neither are doing anything productive on the environment, an issue looming so large it shall become the only issue for our children and grandchildren, neither recognise the rights of gays and lesbians to marry those they love, neither are prepared to invest in our country’s future by making education accessible to everyone, and both are throwing money around to appease minority interests. It seems no-matter what happens we’ll just have to wait another three years in hope that a true leader emerges.

I have but one vestige of hope – that the ‘winner’ has such a slim majority, the Greens end up with a clear deciding vote in the Senate to ensure sense and reason prevail.

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From → Politics

7 Comments
  1. I can’t say that I am convinced that writing to any Labor candidate will do anything but a elicit a form letter in response. I find most party politicians to lack any sort of independence of thought or action. I mean one just has to look at Penny Wong to see what sort of iron grip Labor maintains on its candidates(rather reminiscent of the RCC’s hold).

    I fear that the only way they will get the message is through the ballot box, here’s to the greens increasing their vote and holding the balance of power.

    • I’m afraid I sadly agree with you Sean, and I don’t expect my email to have any effect – one can only hope the candidates pass these sentiments on, and if enough people voice their concerns, maybe something will change.

      I too hope the Greens end up with all the power when the dust settles.

      Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention by the way – I had previously incorrectly assumed these Chaplains were destined for private schools, so I’d not given it much thought (beyond being annoyed at the imbalance of public Vs private school funding).

      • As I understand it, its both private schools can obtain funding as well -not sure about religious private schools who surely have a steady supply of chaplains on tap for free.

  2. Came across this great letter written by a trained mental health professional, criticising the use of Chaplains as quasi “wellbeing” councillors.

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/318lij

  3. Psychologists believe putting Chaplains in schools will harm kids – http://is.gd/ej8Ud

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