In the last week, Minister Garret, has had two reports drop on his desk.
The First Report
The Ombudsman's reports into the National Chaplaincy says that some Chaplains believe that school children with bad behaviour are possessed by demons.
It also highlights a lack of oversight, and a totally inadequate complaints procedure.
From the Report:-
3.6 - The investigation also found that current complaint handling procedures do not appear to adequately serve parents and students and should be improved, as it was not apparent that the Department has an adequate process for capturing complaints regarding chaplains and the program. In particular, the Ombudsman is concerned about the absence of any formal protocols between State and Territory education authorities and the Department regarding the day to day administration of the Chaplaincy Program.
This is not surprising as while the Federal Government provide the money, the Chaplain providers hire the staff, and the the Schools house the Chaplains, it seems the perfect setup for everyone to avoid any responsibility. Initially DEEWR said it only received formal 35 complaints:-
While it had initially told the Ombudsman that only 35 formal complaints had been received about the chaplaincy program over four years, the department later advised it had received 277 complaints and was still checking its database for more.
Mr Asher was unable to identify any guidelines provided to schools by the department on complaints procedures and suggested many complaints had fallen through the cracks - failing to adequately protect the rights of parents and children.
The word "formal" is also significant, how is that defined? Do you have to follow a set procedure, is there a form? Does it have to go to a particular person or department? Does anyone actually know about it? Probably not.
As many have said, The State School system has been run down for years, in favour of the religious based private schooling. This is quite comprehensive covered by Jane Caro and Chris Bonner AM in their book The Stupid Country.
School Education Minister Peter Garrett said yesterday that the chaplaincy program was "very popular among school communities".
So having anyone/someone who is an extra pair of eyes in the school ground would be useful. But then again the Minister could just be playing word games again, with the term "School Communities". I also suspect more word games with "Only 17 complaints about proselytising", nothing about evangelising, oh, but are these just "formal" complaints?
Australia's history with mixing Children with religion is not a happy one. In the past children where placed in Religious institutions such as orphanages, the 8000 British Child Migrants to Australia suffered terrible abuse, and of course the world wide child rape in the Catholic Church, and in each case we look back and say what a terrible tragedy, and it should never have happened in the first place, and we will learn lessons.
I suppose the lessons that have been learned are that you don't put children into evangelical religious institutions (as eventually they will get caught, but typically not punished), but put the evangelicals into childrens institutions eg schools.
The Second Report:-
About ACCESS ministries and their Evangelising. Minister Garret has given them the all clear. Well it seems there were actually no complaints, but then I suspect we come across the word "Formal" again. As usual FIRIS say it best.
So again we see a total whitewash of the Christian influence is schools and Government.
Now is the time to make proper Formal complaints and also time to give some money to the High Court Challenge
How the Chaplaincy Program continues due to dodgy statistics
The Bible is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel. - Thomas Paine