PERHAPS Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his colleagues should get a young child to explain to them that section 116 of our constitution clearly prohibits a religious test ‘‘for any office under the Commonwealth’’.
Restricting the National School Chaplaincy program to only religious chaplains is a clear violation of both the spirit and the letter of the constitution.
Principals should have the autonomy to decide what is best for their schools, and not be forced to let well-meaning but misguided volunteers replace properly trained and qualified teachers and counsellors.
The very essence of our compulsory, free and secular public school system is its inclusive and non-discriminatory values, which are often at odds with the beliefs of organisations like Generate Ministries or ACCESS Ministries, which supply the majority of chaplains in NSW and Victoria.
Not only should no religious test apply for this scheme, but it should be abandoned in favour of fully trained youth counsellors and more resources for teachers and principals.