Bill's Media Releases


Social welfare workers in local schools are facing the sack as a result of the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains, Opposition Leader and Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten said today.


Mr Shorten said the cut would impact on a number of local Maribyrnong schools who employ a qualified welfare officer to provide support and assistance to students and families.


“These dedicated welfare officers have already established trusted relationships with the students they support, as well as parents, families and staff,” Mr Shorten said.


“But the Abbott Government thinks they know better than our principals and school communities. They think they know more about how to meet the welfare needs of local students than our school leaders and parents.”


Mr Shorten said that with around 246 qualified welfare officers employed as part of the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program in Victoria alone, there were no winners under the changes.


“Hundreds of qualified welfare officers across the state are doing great work with our students.”


“But as a result of the Abbott Government’s decision, these welfare officers lose, our schools lose – and worst of all, local students will lose too."


The Abbott Government’s decision follows the High Court ruling that it was invalid for payments to be made directly by the Commonwealth to schools under the program. In response, the Federal Government announced it would provide the money to states and territories to administer the program, but only on the condition it was used to exclusively fund religious chaplains.