Chaplains versus the Safe Schools Coalition

Chaplains versus Safe Schools Coalition

For every 125 religious chaplains working in Australian public schools there is one Safe Schools Coalition working

Things you can do

1. Let Minister for Education Simon Birmingham know your thoughts about the federal government review of the ‘Safe Schools’ anti-bullying program by emailing him on

2. The Greens are running the most successful petition (currently 23,000), which you can sign too.

3. There is also a community response meeting taking place at Melbourne’s Trades Hall on Wednesday 2 March.

4. ‘The Parenthood’ is a parent’s group supporting the campaign. Sign their petition or click ‘About’ to find out more.

5. The Safe Schools Coalition has requested testimonials from parents, students and teachers.

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Sam Wallman

Sam Wallman is a unionist and cartoonist based on unceded Wurundjeri country. He is a member of the Workers Art Collective. His new longform book,  Our Members Be Unlimited: a Comic About Unions is out now through Scribe Publications. You can follow his work here.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Religious values do not equal morality codes, just look at the Catholic Church.
    I found more help from trained councillors at school than I ever did from religious program’s. The chaplaincy program has no place in public schools.

  2. Chaplains usually lack the necessary training to help the diverse problems these children are experiencing.
    The schools are being blackmailed into accepting them as the govt. Will not fund adequate counselors the schools need. Cheaper doesn’t mean better.

  3. I have been a chaplain in a p-10 school for 8 years now. I went to a brilliant LGBTIQ seminar at a recent chaplaincy conference because I knew this was an issue affecting students at my school and it is my job to support ALL students, staff and parents. On 12 hours a week. When a family came to me for support I researched the safe schools program and lobbied for us to join. And we did. I have a background in psychology, mental health and disability support. I have never been a minister of religion.
    I do not talk to students about God unless they ask me to.
    The speaker at the LGBTIQ seminar said that she thought chaplains could “get” LGBTIQ youth because we knew what it was like to have people judge you and even hate you before they knew anything about you as a person.

  4. Sorry Deb, you are certainly the exception to the rule but religion and teaching kids about a sky fairy has no place in public schools.

  5. lol @ Deb for comparing the oppression of LGBTI youth to the fact that people think religious chaplains should not be in government schools. we are supposed to have a clear division between church and state, it is in our constitution. Deb I agree that it’s good that you’re not ramming religion down childrens throats, unless they request it ~ but that should be a given ~ excuse me if i don’t congratulate you.

  6. Sorry Deb but none of this holds water. The chaplaincy program specifically excludes non-religious professionals from being hired. This is absolutely disgusting and discriminatory. Religious belief as a qualification for employment? In a public school? No. And public schools have lost well-qualified secular counsellors. My son, who is queer, would never ever ever ever darken the door of someone like you, not for any reason, and the fact you’re there and a secular counsellor is not does very real harm to children like him. You are in the way and your beliefs are in the way. Kids like my son want nothing to do with religious people.

  7. Public schools are for atheists? So if you have a religious belief aligned to a particular church group you shouldn’t be attending a public school as a student or teacher or psych or whoever?

  8. The chaplains are an easy target, I think. There are many others in the community who are worried about ‘safe schools’ and its underlying agenda. Everyone would support the goal of freedom from bullying – a non-negotiable insistence on respect for every member of the school. But this program is more about how a person’s desire for an identity is supposed to trump all social, biological and reproductive realities. And how cool it is for an adolescent body to be irretrievably altered because a person who is too young to drive a car or buy a beer decides they want it. I wonder whether the people who eventually regret their sex change score a mention in the ‘safe schools’ propaganda?

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