Bunbury schools thrown a chaplaincy lifeline with state government funding

Schools across Greater Bunbury, including Kingston Primary School, will be assured of chaplaincy funding through 2015 and 2016.
Schools across Greater Bunbury, including Kingston Primary School, will be assured of chaplaincy funding through 2015 and 2016.

SCHOOLS across Greater Bunbury have been thrown a lifeline by the state government which will see new chaplaincy funding for 2015 and certainty that the support will continue next year.  

In December 2014, the state government agreed to make up a funding shortfall of $1.45 million from the Commonwealth Government to allow an additional 71 public schools to access an in-school-chaplain in 2015.

But some schools missed out and Bunbury Senior High School, which increased its student population by 250 this year, had to cut back its chaplaincy program.  

In February YouthCARE Council chairman Stephen Foster said this was a “glaring omission” which would hurt students at a time when the school needed more support than ever. 

Acting principal Suzanne Vaughan said the school was thrilled with the news that its fulltime chaplain role would be reinstated. 

“A student in crisis or distress may occur any day of the week and the student  needs  to have one consistent person who understands their full story,” Ms Vaughan said.  

The state government has now also committed an additional $2.7 million for 2015 to fund a further 179 public schools that missed out on the Commonwealth and state-funded In-School Chaplaincy funding for 2015.

Treendale Primary School will receive new chaplaincy for the remainder of 2015 and 20 other schools across Greater Bunbury will rest assured that their funding will continue through 2016. 

Kingston Primary School principal Alan Kidd said schools were constantly adapting to meet the needs of their students as the world outside the school walls changed. 

“Schools are microcosms of society – everything that is happening out on the streets is having an impact in a school,” Mr Kidd said. 

“The drugs, violence and social issues that you read about in the paper have a flow-on effect to students so we need to have the resources to cope with that.”

Mr Kidd said chaplains played a vital part in a large school community and principals across Greater Bunbury were recognising that need.  

“We’ve got 800 kids here – pro rata, there’s going to be a fair few kids going through some sort of medical issue or trauma at any point in time,” Mr Kidd said. 

“If it was just me and 10 kids I’d probably be fine, but with the chaplain’s support we have a better chance of meeting the needs of the school population.”

Bunbury MLA John Castrilli welcomed the significant boost by the state government, which already commits almost $5.7m a year to YouthCARE to provide access to chaplaincy for public schools.