Cheer for chaplains

The money will go towards the 179 public schools which missed out on funding this year under the National School Chaplaincy Program.

YouthCARE is the organisation that provides chaplains to schools. Chief executive Mr Stanley Jeyaraj said the news was welcomed by principals, teachers, parents, students and chaplains.

“Our chaplains care for the social, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing of students, families and staff in public school communities throughout WA,” Mr Jeyaraj said.

“This support helps students achieve their potential, both academically and in their social and family lives.�

State Treasurer Mike Nahan said the announcement brought the State Government’s contribution for chaplaincy services in WA to $10.73 million in 2016.

�Chaplains have a positive influence in the lives of many students,� Dr Nahan said.

�Students can receive guidance and support in family relationships, bereavements and crisis situations.�

Melville Senior High School and Palmyra Primary School chaplain Anni Crouch said the new funding had created an opportunity to expand the chaplaincy provision at Melville SHS, currently available three days a week but was potentially now a full time position.

�I believe this is needed given the growth of our school to the current 1350 student population,� she said.

�At Palmyra Primary School, the funding will enable chaplaincy to resume up to the two days per week as of previous years after not having chaplaincy at all earlier this year due to the funding changes.�

She said chaplains met individuals needing personal pastoral care, ran programs to help students navigate grief and loss and social skills, mentoring, offered a Breakfast Club, peer, social justice awareness activities, and referrals to other agencies.

Melville Senior High School principal Phil White said the position of the school chaplain was strictly secular.

�The chaplain fills a vital gap in a school because they are not a teacher and can support some students in ways a teacher can’t,� he said.

�As such they provide an important role in our school that prides itself on providing a safe, secure, friendly and supportive environment.�

Alfred Cove MLA Dean Nalder said seven schools in his electorate would now have chaplaincy services and he looked forward to hearing about the positive influence chaplains had on these schools.

Bateman MLA Matt Taylor said none of the schools in the Bateman electorate had initially received funding but he had seen first-hand the benefit chaplains brought to school communities, so he was absolutely thrilled that funding was secured.

The City of Melville is also providing $20,000 over a year to help support chaplaincy services in local high schools.

Mayor Russell Aubrey said chaplains were required to meet the City’s youth engagement officers during the funding period to outline their activities and highlight issues they may be responding to in schools.