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Ron Williams

Secular Public Education Limited is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, and is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Our primary charitable purposes are promoting or protecting human rights, promoting or opposing changes to laws, government policies or practices, and advancing education.

While advising and advocating for parents, caregivers, concerned citizens and relevant organisations Australia wide, we are actively pursuing change to government laws and policies regarding religious instruction and federally funded religious chaplains in Australian public schools.

It is also our belief that many of the same federal and state government laws and policies are in breach of, and may be challenged under, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We are proud to announce that the development of our flagship project, Faith, Philosophy, and Fable – a history of human contemplation, has commenced. Supported by exciting and engaging modular and P-12 graded multimedia resources and materials, FP&F will explore human contemplation from the earliest known manifestations some 300,000 years ago. From Middle Paleolithic burial rites and rituals through the anthropomorphic ‘Lion Man’ figurine of c. 38,000 BCE, to the Sumerian deities of the 3rd millennium BCE, Mesopotamian mythology, and the development of eastern and western philosophies and belief systems, Faith, Philosophy, and Fable – a history of human contemplation will comprehensively observe the astonishing history of human thought—the how, when, where, and why.

Ron Williams
Managing Director
Secular Public Education Limited 

Wednesday 3 February, 2016:

Since the establishment of this website in January 2010, it has been an unofficial receiving point for thousands of enquiries, requests for advice, and complaints regarding the conduct of the National School Chaplaincy Program in the public schools of Australia. While requests for such assistance are as important and welcome as ever, for a swift response, please direct all such communications to:

Secular Public Education
Urgent matters please phone: 0478 030 705

The dedicated chaplaincy page at Secular Public Education reads:

Commonwealth funded religious chaplains in Australian public schools

From 2015, in order to circumvent two High Court of Australia constitutional decisions, the federal government commenced supplying $60M p/a to all states and territories to place and administer chaplains in Australian public and private schools. The funding was, and remains strictly conditional upon every chaplain being religious, or as it is stated within the “Project Agreement for the National School Chaplaincy Programme” contract signed in late 2014 by the education ministers of every Australian state and territory:

“A chaplain is an individual who is recognised through formal ordination, commissioning, recognised religious qualifications or endorsement by a recognised or accepted religious institution”

The National School Chaplaincy Program is now operating without any form of central guidelines, code of conduct or complaints process. NSCP funded chaplains are employed almost entirely by evangelical parachurch organisations including Scripture Union Queensland (QLD, ACT and TAS), ACCESS ministries (VIC), Schools Ministry Group (SA) and YouthCARE (WA). Subject to a new arrangement introduced for 2016, NSCP chaplains in NSW are employed by various organisations, although predominantly by Generate Ministries and the Hillsong church linked Your Dream ministry.

Unfettered by statute, enforceable constraints or any disciplinary procedures whatsoever, the National School Chaplaincy Program continues as a Trojan Horse which releases upon national public school campuses Bible clubs and evangelical activities such as SUPA clubs (Scripture Union Primary Age), JAFFA clubs (Jesus A Friend For All) and gendered programs including the ubiquitous Hillsong church SHINE program for girls.

Throughout 2015 and since commencement of the 2016 school year we have received numerous complaints from across Australia related to Commonwealth funded chaplains evangelising and proselytising on public school campuses via programs and activities described above and other methods which include visiting evangelical speakers and bands, while recruiting students to attend Christian camps and church youth activities via school newsletters.

Toward the close of the 2015 school year, many complaints were received regarding chaplains being employed or reinstated for 2016 with grossly inadequate school community consultation—or apparently no consultation whatsoever. Unfortunately, the NSCP project agreement contract provides no requirements or obligations for any consultation processes prior to the employment of a chaplain—leaving these matters entirely at the discretion of individual state and territory signatories. It would seem that the end of 2015 chaplain employment and re-employment process for 2016 has largely been undertaken in a covert manner across Australia.

Operating as a national program without any universal code of conduct, guidelines or complaints process, parents and caregivers with grievances regarding the NSCP are placed in a most frustrating and distressing position. As we enter the 2016 school year, this page will be a ‘work in progress’. We would suggest for now that all complaints regarding the National School Chaplaincy Program as it operates in each state and territory be directed to us via email, our contact form, or by phone should the matter be urgent.

Media enquiries welcome.


Senate Inquiry

The National School Chaplaincy Program is the most irresponsible, outrageous and expensive political stunt ever foisted upon the taxpayers of Australia.

On 27 August 2014 the Federal Government announced that in order to circumvent the High Court decision of 19 June 2014, from 2015 an amount of $248.8 million would be made available to State and Territory Governments to participate in the National School Chaplaincy Program. According to the same ministerial statement by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education:

"The key change to the programme following the High Court decision is an administrative one – the National School Chaplaincy Programme will be funded by the Commonwealth but delivered by the States and Territories."

A senate inquiry must now be undertaken to investigate how, and why this absurd national disgrace, twice declared invalid by the High Court of Australia, was allowed to operate for seven years at a cost of almost a half a billion dollars.

During the course of my High Court proceedings, I have been approached by a number of persons providing, or offering to provide statements regarding their experiences as past employees, administrators or executives within the National School Chaplaincy Program system. Any person wishing to contribute such information can email me at: Your anonymity will be strictly protected throughout.


[19 June 2014] HCA 23

Today the High Court unanimously decided that legislation enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament which purported to provide legislative authority to make agreements for the outlay of public money, and to make payments under those agreements, is invalid in its operation with respect to a funding agreement between the Commonwealth and Scripture Union Queensland ("SUQ"). By that agreement, the Commonwealth was to pay SUQ to provide chaplaincy services at schools in Queensland.

In December 2010, Ronald Williams brought a proceeding in the High Court challenging the payment of money by the Commonwealth to SUQ for SUQ to provide chaplaincy services at the state school Mr  Williams' four children attended. In 2012, the Court held that  the funding agreement between SUQ and the Commonwealth, and the payments made under it, were not supported by the executive power of the Commonwealth under s 61 of the Constitution.

Soon after the Court made orders in that proceeding, the Parliament enacted the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act (No 3) 2012 (Cth) ("the FFLA Act"). The FFLA Act amended the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) ("the FMA Act") and the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997 (Cth) ("the FMA Regulations") to provide legislative support not only for the making of agreements and payments of the kind which were in issue in the first proceeding, but also for the making of other arrangements and grants.

Mr Williams then brought a fresh proceeding in the High Court against the Commonwealth, the relevant Minister and SUQ, challenging the validity of the relevant provisions of the FMA Act and FMA Regulations inserted by the FFLA Act. He challenged the validity of those provisions both generally and in their particular operation with respect to the payment of money by the Commonwealth to SUQ under the then funding agreement. Both the agreement and the payments made under it were said to be made under the "National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program".

The Court held that, in their operation with respect to the challenged funding agreement and the challenged payments made under that agreement, none of the challenged provisions is a valid law of the Commonwealth. The provisions are not, in their relevant operation, supported by a head of legislative power under the Constitution. Providing at a school the services of a chaplain or welfare worker for the objective described in the FMA Regulations is not a provision of "benefits to students" within the meaning of s 51(xxiiiA) of the Constitution. The Court further held that the Commonwealth's entry into, and expenditure of money under, the funding agreement was not supported by the executive power of the Commonwealth. The making of the payments was therefore held to be unlawful.