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Federal Education Minister defends chaplains in state schools

Simon Birmingham has defended the National School Chaplaincy Program, saying the chaplains aren’t preaching in schools.

About 3000 schools have signed up to the program, which provides up to $20,000 a year for schools in metro areas to employ a chaplain, and up to $24,000 a year for those in regional areas.

The government committed an extra $247 million over four years to continue the program in last week’s budget.

“When talking about the chaplaincy program it’s important to say what it’s not, chaplains in school aren’t allowed to preach, they aren’t allowed to proselytize,” the Federal Education Minister told Tom Elliott.

“Then why have ministers of religion in that role?” Tom asked.

“In essence because it’s worked, the parish work that they provide to our school communities, it’s pastoral work not religious work,” Mr Birmingham replied.

“We’ve had thousands of people contact us urging us to renew it, (the program) many of them principals, chair people of state government schools.”

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Photo: AAP