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National School Chaplaincy Program

Program overview

The National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) aims to support South Australian government schools through providing pastoral care workers (PCW) to assist in addressing the wellbeing needs of students and school communities. Pastoral care workers may provide emotional or spiritual support. Although PCWs may be religiously affiliated, they are prohibited from proselytising.

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

The nature of the service is decided by schools following consultation with the school community regarding wellbeing needs. 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 exist within school communities.

In accordance with section 10 of the Project Agreement for the National School Chaplaincy Programme, DECD agrees to participate in any Commonwealth evaluation of the NSCP.

NSCP for government schools guideline

In 2016, the department’s NSCP Guidelines were significantly updated. NSCP funded schools and service providers were notified of this via email.  A minor update was made in December 2016 to include the new contractual arrangements with service providers and the resulting change to the payment process, which are managed centrally by the department from 2017.

The guideline contains detailed information regarding the NSCP. School principals, service providers and pastoral care workers should familiarise themselves with this document.

Funding

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

2017 and 2018 funded schools

The 2017 NSCP schools list (PDF, 14.2 MB) provides the list of government schools receiving funding for 2017 and 2018. For this period, 342 schools are to receive NSCP funding. Among these are 42 schools that have not previously received NSCP funding under the current Commonwealth funding arrangements.

The department was not able to fund all schools that applied for 2017-2018 funding. This is because:

  • more schools applied for funding than the amount of funding available
  • the quality and need of the applications received was high
  • funding was prioritised for schools that indicated higher levels of disadvantage/need
  • the assessment model used includes the best measures of disadvantage/need and data available to the department to undertake this assessment
  • the model provided a ranked school list which permits the department to allocate funding to the next school/s in the list if any funded schools decline their funding offer or withdraw from the program
  • as a direct result of feedback from service providers and schools in 2015-2016, a minimum funding level was applied to ensure that the service is financially viable for service providers and schools.

Supplementation of NSCP funds

Section 4.5 of the National School Chaplaincy Program for government schools guideline advises that the purpose of the National School Chaplaincy Program was to provide 'seed' funding/assistance funding to strengthen existing wellbeing services by establishing or enhancing pastoral care services at a school (funding to be acquitted at the end of each funded calendar year.)

Resource entitlement statement monies provided by the department cannot be used to supplement NSCP services. However, schools may supplement NSCP seed funding through monies received from the local and school communities, for example through fundraising activities.

Funding that is not provided by the department or other government avenues (eg from local or school communities), is not required to be acquitted to the department. However, schools must ensure that any local and school community monies raised for delivering NSCP services are conducted such that the purpose and use of monies is clear to all parties.

NSCP service provision

During the application process for NSCP funding, schools nominate a service provider to deliver pastoral care services to their school community.

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

The service providers currently providing NSCP services to SA government schools are listed below.  

Schools can approach any organisation to deliver NSCP services providing that the organisation complies with the National School Chaplaincy Program for government schools guideline. Please refer to the guideline for more information on service provider requirements and engagement.

Religion and service providers

Pastoral care workers are employed by service providers and are not directly employed by the department or by schools.

Service providers do not have to be affiliated with a religious organisation and may be secular A pastoral care worker that is employed by a non-religious (secular) service provider must have a letter of assurance from a recognised religious organisation that they meet the criteria of a pastoral care worker.

Pastoral care workers delivering NSCP services must work within the requirements of the program, which includes not proselytising.

Changing service provider, pastoral care worker, or withdrawing from the program

At any time during the school year a school may need to make changes to their program delivery. This may include electing to change service provider or a pastoral care worker, or in some circumstances withdrawing from program participation (eg through a change in school community support).

Schools must note that lead times for notifying service providers and their pastoral care workers exist under contractual arrangements; and where changes to providers or workers are requested late in the school year, difficulty in recruitment may occur resulting in a gap in service.

Schools that intend to withdraw from the program, or change providers or workers, need to contact the DECD.NSCP [at] sa.gov.au (Engagement and Wellbeing) team to discuss the school’s requirements. Early notification is needed to manage financial and contractual requirements, such as ensuring that any unused NSCP funds are paid back to the department through obtaining the following from the service provider:

  • a final financial acquittal report outlining expenditure and service details up to the date of the school exiting the program
  • transfer of unused NSCP funds to the department.

Further information for schools intending to change their NSCP requirements is included in the National School Chaplaincy Program for government schools guideline.

Service provider news

Minimum qualification transition applications

The department has recently reviewed its process for considering applications for pastoral care workers transitioning to the minimum qualifications required to provide services under the NSCP.

In exceptional circumstances only, the department may consider applications submitted by NSCP service providers for a temporary exemption from the minimum qualifications required for a pastoral care worker in a regional, remote or disadvantaged community. An application may be submitted where the proposed pastoral care worker has the relevant experience and is studying towards the required minimum qualifications or equivalent to deliver the NSCP services in a government school, and where the wellbeing needs of the school are documented and the application is supported by the school.

It is preferable for an NSCP funded school to experience a gap in NSCP service rather than place an unqualified person in the role of pastoral care worker at a school.

An electronic application form has replaced the paper form, and has been sent to service providers.

NSCP newsletter

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

Current edition

Previous editions

Contact

Contact

National School Chaplaincy Program

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