Public school
If ever a cluster of errors combined to make a bad policy, it must be the provision of religious chaplains to Public schools. The mere provision of money only guarantees the creation of vested interest making rational consideration of the issues difficult. There is a real danger that we have witnessed a deal that will go badly for the Federal government in the longer term and also for the church and Christianity.

The key issue in the provision of any service into our schools must be the question of minimum qualifications required. If a person has the appropriate degree and experience to deal with the complexities of a modern school environment, the question of religion or lack thereof, would be of little interest.

What purpose could be served for the funding government by favouring the appointment of people of a religious commitment? Whatever the answer to that question, it seems to be way outside of the concern of education. If no particular purpose can be identified, the exercise looks a like a vote buying exercise, aimed at the fundamentalist end of the Christian church. Religious chaplaincy in Public schools began as an initiative of the Howard Government that in its last term made an art form of vote buying.

The church too has made an error. It has been bought cheaply. The program remunerates the chaplains at about half the rate the church itself would pay for an ordained person and at about half the rate a psychologist would cost the State. Not withstanding that there may be many stories of well intentioned, good people making a worthwhile contribution to particular schools; a policy to pay peanuts is a policy to employ monkeys. If government really believe in this program, they should fund it properly. If the church believed in the program, they should insist that it be funded properly. It looks like a quick fix from every angle.

Even if you believe the State should fund some kind of religious presence in schools, there can be little to justify the placement of uneducated people in the role. The task of helping children to think critically is an important task that could be undertaken by a theologically trained person or person trained in philosophy but surely a minimum qualification would be a Masters degree. With an undergraduate or no degree at all, what capacity would a chaplain have to help people examine issues and weigh arguments and encourage critical thinking?

How easy is it to anticipate that many parents who have chosen not to send their children to a religious school, resent the tax payer funded presence of a religious figure in the provision of their children’s education. If the church has learned any lesson in the past 300 years, surely it is that the damage done by government sponsored religion ends in tears for all stakeholders. This exercise of chaplaincy in Public schools exposes an arrogance on the part of the church to suggest it’s learned nothing from history.

I’d be happier if government provided funding and allowed local principals to decide how best to meet needs felt locally. I’d rather employ a “Grandma” to love kids and tell stories of old days than a person whose faith was easily threatened or who had nothing but baby answers to life’s questions. If I was a school principal, I’d employ an events organizer who could turn many school occasions into classy celebrations for people of all faiths and none.


Graham1Rev Graham Long is the Pastor and CEO of The Wayside Chapel. For the past 10 years, he has provided love and support to people on and around the streets of Sydney's Kings Cross who are homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted and often forgotten by society. Through the Wayside Chapel, Graham has created a community with 'no us and them'. A community free of judgement for people just to 'be'. 


Christine Tenni-Smith
DECEMBER 12, 2014 @ 01:16
Thank you Graham for your commitment to those who need you and those to come and your team. As the saying goes; "If not for the Grace of God, there go I".I am a dear, and very close friend; call her my sister and have know her for over 50 years of Jane Crowe! Not a day goes by in my life that something or someone reminds me how blessed I am to have her as my dearest friend. Just seems like yesterday that we were jumping of the swing into the river as kids and laughing out loud at the silliest of things and baking fairy cakes and pikelets to take on a picnic up to Mossman George!MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A WONDERFUL STREET PARTY!!!!!
dixie link-gordon
MARCH 31, 2015 @ 02:16
Thanks Rev. Graham, for sharing thankfulness & kindness runs deep with you mob..
Peter Collins
APRIL 28, 2015 @ 10:28
Came across your article in the Age. Agree with it 100%. The whole issue is sad. Sad, leavened with tawdry, hypocritical, short sighted and pathetic. From the time of the offence, through the sentencing, to the execution and to the time after it. Sad. I was going to respond on the newspaper website - but it was already filled with the ravings of the shouty. A president hoping to become popular by enforcing the penalty. A PM hoping to become popular by opposing it. Every politician and most commentators who have grandstanded over this, have demeaned themselves and achieved nothing . Sad. And at the end of it all; Justice? Questionable. Drug trafficking deterred? No. Indonesia or Australia a better place? No. Human life cheapened? Yes. Rational discussion about human dignity and the value of life? Less. Anybody better off? No. A Season of sadness, followed by hope that enough of us will stop, think and reflect about what it is we are here for and trying to do. P.S. I have known people lost to heroin. I regard trafficking it as on a par with murder. Any process that leaves me feeling sorry for the perpetrators is a sorry one indeed.
APRIL 28, 2015 @ 10:54
Very wise and compassionate words. Thank you .
NOVEMBER 12, 2015 @ 12:03
Graham, a word of encouragement to you. Keep it up.I recently installed a battery charger down the back yard, about 40m away from the house. At night I can see the leds on the charger from the kitchen window shining brightly but during the day they are not visible.I thought it analogous of your work.... the darker society gets, the brighter your light shines, even though your message stays the same. Keep the lights on.Cheers Ed
NOVEMBER 12, 2015 @ 12:33
I didn't realise you have a blog. So, it's a nice discovery.The bible I use to read and to study is the King James version. I'm currently reading 2 Thessalonians and the study notes often give the Greek word e.g. rest is anesis, "release" or "relaxation" and falling away is "apostasia". I like the King James for the beautiful language but mostly because God is present with me as I read and study. I need all the help I can get!How fortunate you are to be near our beautiful Opera House. "When Utzon's necessary angel alighted at Bennelong Point the whole inner city shifted its ground. Circular Quay, The Rocks, Woolloomooloo and Walsh Bay took on a new existence. Macquarie Street found a goal, became what it was always meant to be, a grand boulevard running from Hyde Park to the water." (David Malouf, "An Angel at Bennelong Point" March 2009. )
Rosie Logie
NOVEMBER 12, 2015 @ 06:04
Graham,Sorry, you lost me!My ear, like yours is tuned into European languages which have produced in English a multicultural miscellany with little Asian language influence..Can you hear distinctions between Asian languages spoken around you? I like listening to Chinese people talking together on the train, I have no idea what they are saying but their intonations are lively. My ear is not tuned into Japanese, Korean, Thai...Most of these countries use an ideographic written language. Imagine if we English-speaking bods were required to absorb this knowledge prior to being allowed into the Pacific Asean network!Rosie
NOVEMBER 18, 2015 @ 04:07
Well said as always Graham. We need more people like you in the world.
FEBRUARY 26, 2016 @ 11:57
The miracle is in being. A being is but a reflection of another. Thank you for sharing these thoughts on the individual. Poignant.
Our Social Being – and why it matters in Mental Health and Suicide - Safety Risk .net
MARCH 01, 2020 @ 06:50
[…] Graham Long (former CEO of The Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross) describes; we live in a world that […]
Our Social Being – and why it matters in Mental Health and Suicide - Safety Risk .net
MARCH 01, 2020 @ 06:50
[…] of The Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross) describes; we live in a world that encourages a ‘privitisation of self’. This is a world where we are drawn to consider people predominately as individuals and often in […]
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