The budget has provided $243 million to keep the school chaplain program going for 4 years, even though it’s being challenged in the High Court
The federal government is providing almost a quarter of a billion dollars to continue the school chaplains program even though it could be overturned in the High Court.
The budget allocates funding of $243.8 million over the next four years.
Under this program, all Australian schools can apply for $20,000 grants towards the cost of employing a school chaplain.
More disadvantaged schools take priority and an additional $4000 is available to schools in remote areas.
The government said this delivered on an election promise.
Only last week, the High Court heard a challenge to this program, launched by Queensland father Ron Williams, who says there’s no place in public schools for non-secular programs.
Former prime minister John Howard launched the controversial program – which aims to provide guidance to students – in the leadup to the 2007 election.
The High Court upheld Mr Williams’ initial legal challenge against the program in a landmark decision in 2012, but the Labor government quickly passed fresh legislation to keep it going.
Should Mr Williams’ challenge be upheld, legal experts believe it could have far-reaching effects for the commonwealth’s ability to fund a range of measures beyond the school chaplains program.
High Court judges are now considering their decision.