The federal government has at last let schools decide who they want to counsel their students, and ensure they have appropriate training, the Australian Greens said today.
"We welcome this announcement after taking this much-needed expansion to the 2010 election," Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens' spokesperson for youth affairs, said.
"The Greens have been saying for years a major problem with the programme was it forced schools into getting only a chaplain, rather than someone with basic qualifications.
"Now, schools will get to choose, and also know that whoever they decide to appoint will have minimum qualifications set by the Federal government - a glaring omission that needed fixing.
"Students will also benefit because while they are grappling with the complexities of being young, they will, at last, be talking with an adult who has qualifications, rather than just belonging to a religious group.
"The Greens will be monitoring the changes to the chaplaincy programme to ensure the government keeps its promises to amend the faults in a scheme which costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
"This expansion is welcome in that it now gives schools the choice, including the retention of a chaplain, if the school body determines they best suit their needs. The problem has all along been a lack of qualified staff to support students, but now this will finally happen."