Fiona Patten, ‘Reason’ Party Victorian upper house member has continued her war on Christianity, with the Education and Training Amendment (School Employment) Bill introduced into the upper house – a bill to undermine the school chaplaincy system. Debate will continue in coming weeks.

Ms Patten claims that a person must be a Christian to be employed as a chaplain and that other religions and atheists are discriminated against.

It is correct that if a school seeks to appoint a chaplain through the federal National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) then the funding for the position is provided through an accredited provider agency, most of whom are Christian.

In fact, any faith can set up a chaplaincy ‘provider,’ and seek accreditation.

Patten’s bill aims to force schools to find and engage their own chaplains. But chaplains from NSCP are trained and screened and do a wonderful job. A 2016 Kantar Public evaluation into NSCP found that 83% of parents of students attending public schools support having chaplaincy services and activities in their child’s school. This demonstrates the close school-community connection that exists under the current legislative arrangements.

Ms Patten’s bill is part of her relentless ideology war – she apparently cares little if children suffer through being exposed to a lower standard of chaplaincy or the potential loss of other support programs – so long as Christians are discriminated against.

As we continue to manage the COVID crisis and the many mental health challenges that arise, no consideration should be given to dismantling this key support for schools. If anything, consideration should be given to providing schools with additional funding for school chaplains during this time. 

Chaplaincy ‘ain’t broke’ – and is providing excellent service to schools. Almost everyone except Patten is happy with the current arrangements. Why change it?  And why this relentless discriminatory war on Christianity?

Please tell our government to throw out Ms Patten’s bill and leave our chaplains to care for kids.

Find your five upper house MPs below and email them: 

Or use this link to enter your address, then > region > view member. Send an email to the address provided, letting your representative politely know how you feel.


Victoria’s Upper House members of parliament by region

Eastern Metropolitan

Bruce Atkinson                       ;

Matthew Back                         ;

Rodney Barton                        ;

Shaun Leane                            ;

Sonja Terpstra                         ;

Eastern Victoria

Melina Bath                              ;

Jeff Bourman                           ;

Jane Garrett                             ;

Harriet Shing                            ;

Edward O’Donohue              ;

Southern Metropolitan

Georgie Crozier                       ;

David Davis                               ;

Enver Erdogan                         ;

Clifford Hayes                          ;

Nina Taylor                               ;

South East Metropolitan

Tien Kieu                                   ;

David Limbrick                         ;

Gordon Rich-Phillips              ;

Adam Somyurek                     ;

Lee Tarlamis                             ;

Western Metropolitan

Catherine Cumming              ;

Bernie Finn                               ;

Cesar Melhem                         ;

Ingrid Stitt                                 ;

Kaushaliya Vaghela               ;

Western Victoria

Stuart Grimley                         ;

Bev McArthur                          ;

Andy Meddick                         ;

Jaala Pulford                            ;

Gayle Tierney                          ;

Northern Metropolitan

Nazih Elasmar                          ;

Craig Ondarchie                      ;

Fiona Patten                            ;

Samantha Ratnam                 ;

Northern Victoria

Mark Gepp                               ;

Jaclyn Symes                            ;

Wendy Lovell                           ;

Tania Maxwell                         ;

Tim Quilty                                 ;