School chaplains get State funding

In a pre-Budget announcement last month, Education Minister Peter Collier said the extra funds would support schools that had applied through the National School Chaplaincy Program, which this year received less Federal funding.

YouthCARE area chaplain Steve Jansz said it was a timely boost for many northern suburbs schools.

�The funds will allow them to reinstate or develop chaplaincy services to benefit their whole school community, with several schools looking to take on a chaplain for the first time,� he said.

�Chaplains provide much-needed pastoral care support, working hand in hand with other clinical, admin and teaching staff to foster positive, resilient and nurturing school communities.�

Ocean Reef Primary School principal Peter Blackwell said the school had a chaplain before a change to the funding arrangements in 2014.

�The loss of the program meant that a number of pastoral care initiatives that supported students, families and staff were discontinued,� he said.

�News of the loss of funding triggered a flow of feedback indicating the very important role the chaplain served supporting our school community.

�Many parents lamented the loss of someone who they could talk to about �their whole child�.

�They could talk to the chaplain about parenting, family and individual concerns for their child that was a different conversation to that which they would have with the class teacher.�

Mr Blackwell said the recently announced State funding would allow the school to reintroduce independent support for students, staff and families.

�(The school) will have an extracurricular support mechanism that allows all members of the school community to access both formal programs and informal support from the chaplain,� he said.

�Formal programs such as �drum beat�, �bounce back and �what�s the BUZZ?�will be introduced or reintroduced.�

Mr Collier said these funds, and another $5.05 million to continue the program in 2016, would cover the Federal funding shortfall.

�We�ve listened to the concerns of principals and communities, and all 500 public schools which identified a need and applied for chaplaincy funding will now receive it,� Mr Collier said.

�I announced before Christmas we would make up the $1.45 million shortfall for another 71 schools to access an in-school chaplain, but it was clear more were needed.�

YouthCARE chief executive Stanley Jeyaraj said principals, teachers, parents, students and chaplains welcomed the news.

�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.