Chaplaincy program to continue

THE Federal Government's bill to allow the National Chaplaincy Program to continue has passed the Senate.

The legislation, which the government introduced into the Parliament on Tuesday, comes in response to last week's High Court decision that found Commonwealth payments to the Scripture Union Queensland to provide chaplaincy services were invalid.

The High Court found Commonwealth spending, even if supported by appropriations acts, required a legislative base.

Not only does the bill ensure the chaplaincy program can continue, but it provides legislative authorisation to existing programs already approved by the Parliament.

More than 100 programs across a range of portfolios are included in the legislation, including a significant number in the health and ageing portfolio.

The bill also includes a regulation-making power for the current and future governments to add programs where the need arises.

It passed the lower house on Tuesday night and ensures $16.4 million can be paid to 160 providers of chaplaincy and student welfare services by Friday.

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