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New report buttresses Greens’ concerns about school chaplains programme

The Australian Greens say the Commonwealth Ombudsman's investigation into the National School Chaplaincy Programme has buttressed the party's concerns about the absence of minimum qualifications required for participants.

"This report reinforces what we've always said -- there's a lot of taxpayers' money being spent on this programme which does not require minimum basic standards for chaplains," Greens' youth affairs spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young.

"They have no clearly defined role, and yet we're asking them to engage with young people in our schools who are dealing with all the complexities of being a child or teenager.

"If you're struggling with bullying, or dealing with questions of sexuality or personal relationships, the person you're encouraged at school to talk with has no formal qualifications - how can that be fair?

"It is very encouraging to see that the Ombudsman has identified this as a problem.

"The Gillard government intends to expand this programme by $222 million in the 2011-12 budget to encompass another 1,000 schools, but it still refuses to release an internal review into its effectiveness.

"The Schools Minister, Mr Garrett, has had this assessment since May and we again call on the minister to finally publish it.

"The programme needs to be overhauled and funds used to run a proper student-supported programme where schools, students and parents have the assurance that the support staff are appropriate and qualified."

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