chaplains are not counsellors

Is anyone else outraged at the complete lack of understanding that John HoWARd has for formally qualified counsellors and the need for evidence, rather than belief-based intervention? Currently, a school counsellor must have formal qualifications. They are drawn mainly from Social Work or Psychology.

This government is planning to fund chaplains in schools. In the announcement that I listened to on the ABC, Kevin Andrews was particularly tricky when he interchanged ‘counsellors’ with ‘chaplain.’

“I think there is a broad concern in the community, amongst parents and indeed amongst a lot of young people, that having someone like a counsellor – like a chaplain – that they can go to and talk to is very important. We’ve seen tragedies in recent days in schools, in New South Wales for example, and a lot of people want someone they can just talk to outside the normal (my emphasis) teachers in a school.”

Counsellors are informed by evidence-based practice, whilst chaplains are belief-based practitioners.

Perhaps I’m missing the point completely and the government is rolling out more of what in 2004 was referred to as HoWARd’s response to Latham’s “crisis of masculinity.”

Women have long made up the bulk of the numbers of graduates from the social sciences, whereas chaplains continue to be predominantly men.

This from then Minister for Education, Science and training- Dr. Brendan Nelson. Making Schools Better. A speech spoken by Dr Brendan Nelson at the Making Schools Better conference at The University of Melbourne. 26 August 2004.

“Finally, we are also taking steps to ensure that men are attracted to the teaching profession, particularly to primary teaching by offering 500 teacher scholarships for men. Last year, the proportion of male primary teachers was only 20.9%. This is a decrease of five percentage points over only a decade and the decrease will continue: there are currently only 18.8% of trainees who are male. This is a particular concern to the Government in light of the evidence that shows that boys are underachieving relative to girls and relative to their own performance from 25 years ago. Many boys have no positive male role models in their lives.”

I’d rather have school children talk to abnormal teachers at school than any sort of chaplain.

Highschool boys.jpg

nostalgic image from here

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19 Responses to “chaplains are not counsellors”

  1. Graham Bell Says:

    Suki:
    I’ve said it before: Howard and his gang have TURNED COMMUNIST.

    This latest stunt is merely a re-badged “Red Is Better Than Expert”, nothing else. Those who are politically reliable – regardless of their knowledge and regardless of what harm they do – replace those with professional expertise.

    Religious education for children has the potential to be quite beneficial (it did me no harm at all)….. but not this!

    The sting in the tail is that terrorists will now have wonderful opportunities to recruit more suicide bombers – not from their co-religionists but from among young and impressionable infidels and idolaters. I’ll bet Howard’s religious ratbags didn’t run this one past the counter-terrorism experts, or, if they did, they ignored all the professional advice.

    “It seemed like a good idea at the time”. ….. bang!!!

  2. Blue Says:

    I have major issues with this, especially as our school (public & small) doesn’t have a counsellor. I asked the small people in my house what they thought of chaplains rather than counsellors (who they are familiar with privately)…..

    small boy’s response was that he would rather speak to almost anyone but a god botherer who would ignore his issues over concern for his soul.*

    *their father is related to god botherer’s hence his particular slant…..

  3. Spotlight on great quotes from the past » The Road to Surfdom Says:

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  4. Alan Green Says:

    “Id rather have school children talk to abnormal teachers at school than any sort of chaplain.” Seriously? I’m hoping you meant that as a throwaway line.

    I’ve known some pretty viscious, screwed up teachers on one hand and some wise and compassionate Christians on the other. Given the choice between an abnormal teacher and some random chaplain, I’d rather *my* boys talked to the chaplain.

    As far as counselling being “evidenced based”: hahaha. There’s no doubt that most counsellors try to do the right thing by their clients, but even so, it’s a fluffy, fluffy area and many just stick with their pet theories whether or not those theories have randomised trials backing them up, and whether or not the theory is applicable to their client’s situation. I’ve seen these kinds of counsellors do damage to friends and family members.

    That’s not to say that counselling can’t be helpful, and it’s not to say that I think state schools should have chaplains, but the chaplaincy vs counselling argument isn’t as black and white as you say it is.

  5. lauren Says:

    I happen to think that chaplins are a pretty good idea. I’m not religious or anything but the high school I went to had both a chaplin and a guidance councellor (I finished grade 12 two years ago).

    When I was attempting to apply for university and accomodation and sort out what I wanted to do after school we were all told to go and see the guidance councellor and she would be happy to help us with anything. Well I booked in to see this woman FOUR TIMES I got excused from class every single one of those times and went down to her office to find out she wasn’t there she had something “come up” every time and couldn’t be there to see a student who had reserved a time with her to get some help.

    They also had a buddy system matching up grade 8 kids with grade 12 kids if they were nervous, shy, getting bullied etc etc. I was given a buddy when I was in grade 12, a nice kid, the guidance councellor forced her to have a buddy despite the fact there was nothing wrong with her the reason… She had a Lisp. This child was one of the most outgoing, happy go lucky people you could ever meet and she couldn’t give a damn that she had a lisp and because of that she never got picked on!

    Another friend of mine lived with her father who was extremely poor they didn’t earn much money and sometimes did it really hard to the point of not having food to bring for lunches etc. Despite this the kid’s dad loved his children and tried his best to look after them. Well the guidance councellor found out about her being hungry sometimes and notified DOCS or whichever the relavent department happen to be who came into this girls home and took her and her younger brother away from their father “just to see what it was like” and put her in a foster home on which the first night the foster father was feeling up her breasts and oogling her… a 13yr old school kid.

    After all of this with an absolutly usless councellor the school chaplin was fantastic. He and then her we had two in the time I was there never forced their views on any student. They were there to just listen when a student needed help or wanted to talk about something and both of them had a great relationship with the students. They ran afternoon teas on tuesday lunchtimes where you could sit and talk (it was supposed to be religious but one of my mates dragged me along one day because it usually turned into a gossip session about one of the teachers and his unfortunate dress sense) and get a free feed. Anybody I knew who had a problem at home and wanted to talk to an adult about it would go to their favourite teacher or the chaplin for help you only went to the guidance councellor if forced!

    Just because someone is religiously inclined does not mean they are a bad influence and having some more diversity and different services available in schools is a great thing.

  6. Colin Campbell Says:

    Totally agree. I am on the Governing Council of our school and really believe that there are so many other ways that this money could be spent to provide fully trained counselling resources. I find this to be another insidious undermining of public education. It really rankles to have a programme like this shoved down communities throats. Is this another attempt provide more resources to parochial schools?

  7. Tommy Says:

    I’m not a big fan of this, but at the same time I don’t think it’s going to do much harm.

    I went to a religious school, and from my experience kids would very rarely take their problems to the school chaplain. Instead they’d go to the professional counsellor in pretty large numbers.

    Just seems like a dumb way to spend $90 million more than anything else.

  8. Suki Says:

    lauren,
    you wrote,

    “having some more diversity and different services available in schools is a great thing.”
    Great point!
    We’ll leave the counselling to the qualified counsellors and instead of chaplains can my school have aromatherapists?

  9. Blue Says:

    There is a difference between a guidance counsellor & a general counsellor. My guidance counsellor at HS was useless also (a lot further than 2 years ago) but the chaplain wasn’t much better – in fact worse when prating to me about ‘forgiveness’ of the shits who were beating me up – instead of giving me the skills to deal with the situation.

    My kids have seen private counsellors who have helped them with the issues (like bullying) that I never had help with.

    Regardless of the source of the assistance – the fact that the money has been allocated to a religious person (with no specified skill level) over secular individuals who under education policy must have a certain level of training and are vetted pretty well by Principals is frankly appalling.

  10. weezil Says:

    While Australia doesn’t have the same level of church-state separation as does the USA, this ridiculous chaplain scheme is a very expensive and unprecedented injection of government sponsored religion into public schools.

    The Education Minister will be responsible for the final decision as to which person are unsuitable to be chaplains. Can’t wait to see who the schools in SW Sydney pick…

    Julie Bishop: “Imam WHO applied?!”

  11. Suki Says:

    🙂 …or

    ” since when have there been buddhist nuns”

  12. Suki Says:

    Blue,
    You’re right to point out the difference.

    As stated, school counsellors which are usually Social workers and psychologists, both have a minimum of 4 years of mastering curricula at university.

  13. Nim Says:

    Umm there are buddhist Nuns!!

    Alan Green Says:
    November 1st, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Id rather have school children talk to abnormal teachers at school than any sort of chaplain. Seriously? Im hoping you meant that as a throwaway line.

    Kind of depends what you define as abnormal i and many of my friends are indeed abnormal teachers!

    Interesting point by Lauren. I think though that a lot of people’s anger could be to do with the lack of a guarantee of the quality of these chaplains. Although not all social workers are out there to help people; you can at least be fairly confident they have learned strategies to do so.

    I don’t agree with this idea of mandatory chaplains but i do agree many schools would benefit from having a staff member whose sole purpose is the interests and welfare of the students…

  14. joe2 Says:

    This move should be seen for what it is. The further erosion of the critical division between the church and state. I send my child to a government school for a secular education not flagpoles and god botherers. This is typical Howard wedgie politics and Labor has been picked up by the undies bigtime.
    And ,of course, Steve Fielding has been rewarded for his sycophancy.

    I heard General Peter Cosgrove on radio the other day and even he has obvious misgivings about this nonsense.

  15. weez Says:

    Nim Says:
    November 2nd, 2006 at 12:47 am

    Umm there are buddhist Nuns!!

    Suki is well aware of that. She was mocking what the Minister for Religious Interference in Public Education might say in case of an application from a clearly dubious non-Christian.

    While generally opposed to religion in public schools as they must accommodate students from families of all religious backgrounds or those absent religion, all the same, I’d sooner trust my kids to a Buddhist than to one of George Pell’s mob.

    Moreover, this is simply a political gerrymander exercise, inflicted by the Liberal Party, which for this moment is the government of the day, on those who are not even old enough to vote. Propagandising to the next generation, too young to see the political interference for what it is, is self-serving politics at its most despicable. Leave the bloody kids alone.

    Religious education is a parent’s responsibility, not the government’s. If one has to choose between a qualified Social Worker or any old kanaka who goes to church now and again, yep… it’s a no brainer.

    I think you’ll find that when Howard starts playing wedge politics like demonising Muslims, welfare recipients, non-Christians and the ABC & SBS, there’s something else he’d like your attention drawn away from…

    Anyone have any guesses as to what political blunders that Howard would like you not to notice? I’ll start you off with Iraq, AWB, interest rates and WorkChoices.

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

  16. cat =^..^= Says:

    of course as always Qld is way behind in this area. in general, to my knowledge state schools here still don’t employ counsellors at all. certainly guidance counsellors have always been available for dodgy career advice and getting out of class, but as for having a person who can listen non-judgementally to what is going on in a kid’s life forget it. i am a qualified social work ie. four years at uni, and i want to counsel kids at school, but alas i am not a chaplain. this doesn’t help anyone. firstly why should we pay for chaplaincy services? shouldn’t the churches donate this resource in retribution for all the childhoods it destroyed with peadophile priests, sadistic nuns, assimilation and baby stealing? then hoWARd can put the money towards qulaified professionals and give kids a choice. what a concept choice is.

  17. Suki Says:

    cat =^..^=,
    Hi, how lovely to hear from a qualified counsellor! 🙂

    I can only speak for NSW where the school counselling resources exist, but are very thin on the ground.

    One school counsellor will usually cover three schools. Travelling time between sites comes out of the working day.

    Providing crisis intervention is a distant dream for these professionals.

  18. templemonkey Says:

    I think my high school was ahead of the curve here. Nearly 20 years ago, the school board sent out a letter to the parents asking them to vote on the issue ‘do you want a christian chaplain at the school?’ When the ballots were counted the result was an overwhelming ‘No!’ The Principal then responded with ‘Well, we’re getting one anyway!’

    So after that we had a chaplain. He didn’t really seem to do anything. Turned up once in the year 12 common room before exams and asked if anyone wanted to talk. No-one did and it was a pretty uncomfortable silence while we waited for him to leave.

    I fail to see why an initiative that inflicts that sort of irrelevance on students should receive more than four times the funding of a literacy stopgap program.

  19. Darlene Says:

    To put it fairly basically, I don’t think religious bods should be in our public schools.

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