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National School Chaplaincy Program

The National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) aims to support schools in promoting the wellbeing of students by establishing or maintaining pastoral care workers (PCW) in South Australian schools. The pastoral care workers may provide spiritual or emotional support. While PCWs may be religiously affiliated, they are prohibited from proselytising or evangelising.

It is voluntary for schools and students to participate in this program.

The nature of the service is decided by schools, following consultation with school communities. Schools will regularly inform parents and students about the availability and voluntary nature of the program.

The NSCP is not intended to diminish or replace existing careers advice, counselling or wellbeing services. It is designed to form part of the wellbeing services that already exist within school communities.


The Commonwealth Department of Education and Training provides funding to the states and territories via a project agreement for the NSCP. Funding of $7.27 million per year is provided.

Funding applications

The 2017-18 NSCP funding round is now closed. Applications were open to all DECD schools, even if they had not previously participated in the program. Applications closed on Friday 16 September 2016. Successful and unsuccessful schools will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

The NSCP application guide (PDF 1934KB) was developed to assist schools in completing their applications. This document also details the assessment criteria used for the 2017-2018 funding round.

Service providers

Religion and service providers

DECD schools do not directly employ pastoral care workers. Pastoral care workers are employed by a relevant service provider. Service providers do not have to be religious organisations. PCWs employed by non-religious service providers must have a letter of assurance from a religious organisation that they meet the requirements of the PCW criteria.

Engaging a service provider

Schools can approach any organisation to deliver NSCP services if they comply with the NSCP guidelines and other supporting documentation including the NSCP service agreement.

More information on who can be a service provider and how to engage a service provider can be found in the following documents:

Changing service provider or withdrawing from the NSCP

Your school may change service providers at any time during the school year, but a change late in the year may be difficult to recruit for.

In some circumstances such as change of school community support, the school may need to withdraw from participating in the program. Any unused NSCP funds must be paid back to the department. In these circumstances, the school must negotiate with the service provider to ensure that:

  • a final financial acquittal report outlining expenditure and service details up to the date of the school exiting the program is obtained from the service provider
  • the service provider transfers unused surplus funds back to DECD.

Current service providers

DECD does not endorse any particular organisation for delivery of NSCP services.

The following organisations are currently delivering NSCP services to South Australian government schools:

  • Centacare
  • Re-engage Youth Services
  • Schools Ministry Group
  • Uniting Care Wesley.


Pastoral care worker qualifications

The service provider and the funded school make the assessment of a pastoral care worker’s qualifications. Minimum qualifications for pastoral care workers must

  • be a Certificate IV (Pastoral Care or Youth Work or equivalent)
  • be considered (on face value) to be directly relevant to the NSCP objectives of supporting the emotional wellbeing of students by providing pastoral care services, and strategies that support the emotional wellbeing of the broader school community
  • contain subjects/units/content relevant to the ‘mental health’ and ‘making appropriate referrals’ competencies.

If the service provider and school are satisfied that the pastoral care worker has qualifications that are equivalent or higher than the above they must document this in writing. The department may request evidence of any decision supporting a claim for equivalency.

Workers without minimum qualifications

The department recognises that it may be difficult to recruit appropriately qualified workers in regional, remote and disadvantaged communities. On a ‘by exception’ basis, service providers can apply for approval to engage a pastoral care worker who is studying towards the minimum qualifications.

As the employer of pastoral care workers for the purposes of the NSCP, the service provider must provide evidence through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) processes and/or school principal or community leader advice about the worker’s relevant skills, abilities and experience. The outcome will be decided by the cross sector panel (consisting of government, Catholic and independent school representatives) who will inform the service provider the decision and any conditions.

Service providers wanting to employ someone working towards minimum qualifications should email DECD.NSCP [at] sa.gov.au for the ‘application for minimum qualification transition arrangements’ form.

NSCP Newsletter

The NSCP quarterly newsletters provide information about the program including key facts, program updates, relevant due dates and news stories.

Previous editions


National School Chaplaincy program

Phone: 8226 1029
Email: DECD.NSCP [at] sa.gov.au