How could you better spend the $245 million invested in the federal government’s school chaplains program? Crikey readers have their say …
In a time of budget austerity, are school chaplains really the best investment of $245 million over four years? Crikey’s Bernard Keane offered some suggestions on better uses of the cash yesterday, and then we threw it open to you. There was lots of support for more qualified support for kids at school, and suggestions from outside the box …
Luke Helbling: The Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Renewable Energy Corporation. Two programs that were, most importantly to society, economically viable let alone positively influential to science, education, industry as well as Australia’s international prestige and future soft power.
Jock Webb: I would like to see access to mental health workers in regional Australia, where youth suicide is out of control. I would like to see serious mental health help in schools where, by crikey, they bloody well need it.
Hamish Shep: Remove it all from the chaplains and give it to the CSIRO (first priority) and the ABC (second priority).
Hungryy Jackss: Offer incentives for new start companies bringing manufacturing back to Australia, which in turn will create jobs and boost economy.
Julie Vaux: Funding 3D printing workshops open to the public and small business so we making more stuff here!
Laura Shirven: Putting the funding back into schools and hospitals seems a likely candidate.
Noel Curran: Direct the funding back to the schools!
Melanie Tebbutt: I’d put it straight into helping kids with disabilities in school, especially kids in the autism spectrum.
Kerryn Cooper: A proper sequential music education program in public schools. This is one of the big differences between public and private at the moment.
Robert Cox: Hire qualified social workers and counsellors.
Kimmi Joy Leahy: Social workers/psychologists for schools would be a million times better.
Rebecca Bowen: Maybe hire secular counsellors. Leave the chaplains for private schools with religious affiliations.
Ben Cameron: Preventative psychological counselling programs for everyone who needs it. It has been shown time and time again that early intervention is better than treatment when things go wrong.
Trevor Coombes: Setting up equivalent taxpayer-funded, in-school proselytisation programs, for imams, Hindu archakas, voodoo witch doctors and any unemployed priests we can find lying around.
Margaret Smyth: How about the primary ethics program in New South Wales, if you want to stay close to the purpose of the funding? To quote from their literature:
“In December 2010, the NSW State Government amended the Education Act 1990. Section 33a was created to give parents the right to choose ethics classes for their child if they have opted out of Special Religious Education (SRE) classes at their schools.
“Primary Ethics is almost entirely made up of volunteers; they are mums and dads, grandparents and other members of the wider community.
“In ethics classes, children sit in a circle and learn how to think about ethical matters through the give-and-take of reasoned argument using dialogue and discussion. Each week, children are given stimulus material, such as a story or pictures, then our trained Ethics Teachers facilitate conversations between the children, helping them form a ‘community of inquiry’ with their peers.”
Matt Longworth: Today, I just happened to look at volunteering up Brunswick Heads way in New South Wales, and inquired about “voluntary ethics teacher” amongst the extensive list of options towards which I could donate my time. This program, should I be so inclined, requires me to not only undertake training at my own expense, maybe in Sydney, but also to then commit to the program as a volunteer for maybe 12 months. All a bit vague, but is this alternative program to chaplains in schools run by volunteers?
Julie Vaux: I would allocate money to a general philosophy religion in which students had a brief intro to many kinds of religion and philosophy and ethics and logic.
Bige Gursel: Cognitive behavioural therapy for the Abbott government.
Stuart Coyle: I propose $245 million over four years to fund compulsory moral philosophy courses for all politicians.