KINROSS Wolaroi School chaplain Philip Worrad knows how important it is for students to have support at hand.
As part of his duties at the school, Mr Worrad provides students with regular guidance and support while implementing the Uniting Church’s ethos and values.
It is a service to students that Mr Worrad feels is becoming increasingly necessary in today’s rapidly evolving society.
“I think it is more important now than what it was in the past because of the nature of changes in society,” he said.
Schools will now have the choice to employ either a chaplain or secular student welfare worker following changes made on Wednesday to the federal government’s National Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program.
The changes are a development on the controversial scheme that was introduced in 2007 by the Howard government that only permitted schools to hire welfare workers as a last resort if a chaplain could not be found.
The government has allocated $222 million to expand the program and encompass a further 1000 schools.
Applications will be open shortly.
Canobolas Rural Technology High School, Orange East Public School, Kinross Wolaroi School, and Orange Christian School have each been allocated $60,000 since the program started in 2007.
It has been a beneficial government initiative, according to Canobolas Rural Technology High School principal Chris Condliffe.
“We have had a chaplain for three years who has been supportive of a range of programs in our school,” he said.
“He has been active in a mentoring capacity and been involved in many pro-active programs.”
Mr Condliffe said he had no issues having a pastor working within a public school.
New minimum qualification requirements for all new chaplains and welfare workers have also been introduced under the changes.
The changes have been welcomed by the Australian Education Union, but members feel further measures could be taken to address a national shortage of support staff, particularly in public schools.
“This change in the federal government’s chaplaincy program is a step in the right direction and will better assist schools to enhance the welfare support provided to students,” AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said.
“Beyond this program there remains a huge shortfall in the resources that schools have to employ qualified professionals such as counsellors and psychologists and this in an area that should be addressed as part of the current review of schools funding.
“Research released by the Gonski review last week showed that public schools are overwhelmingly the ones who are educating students with the greatest needs such as those at risk, those from low income families, those who are indigenous Australians or have a disability and those who live in rural and remote areas.”