Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King warned that 18 student welfare officers in our local schools faced losing their jobs as a result of the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains.
“Student welfare officers provide specialised one-on-one support for young people in our schools who may be facing issues with peer pressure, self-esteem, bullying or just have the need for someone to talk to,” Ms King said.
“It should be up to principals, parents and school communities to decide what is best for their students, not Tony Abbott.
“Labor in government expanded the program so school communities had the choice of hiring a qualified welfare officer or counsellor.
“There are now 18 schools in this electorate where students are receiving the benefit of qualified student welfare support and by axing these jobs the Abbott Government is leaving many students to fall between the cracks.”
Ms Sharon Sperling, student welfare officer at Darley Primary School said it was unfair that students in local schools could miss out because the government is restricting support to religious chaplains.
“This is a fantastic school and our teachers do an exceptional job supporting students in the class room and the playground,” Ms Sperling said.
“However, there are around 20% of the students here that require some specialised one-on-one counselling and to lose that trusted relationship I have with these great kids would be a huge loss.
“It would be particularly mean spirited if the intention of this policy is to exclude schools and students from the program just because we’re a school community without links to a religious institution.”