Rezoning plan

The push to have land rezoned to accommodate a supermarket, specialty shops and possibly a petrol station and other services away from the Strathalbyn town centre has understandably caused concern in the community.

The town’s traders have genuine fears that fragmenting the town’s retail precinct will be bad for existing businesses and the Alexandrina Council Mayor Kym McHugh was left in no doubt as to the mood of the public meeting last Friday.

Of the more than 250 people at the Town Hall only a handful indicated their support for the proposal.

It was a shame there was not better representation at the meeting from both the council and developers. That may be partly due to the haste with which the meeting was arranged in order for it to be held before the June 20 deadline for public submissions to the new Strathalbyn Town Plan.

However, there was no information available from two surveys into the future retail requirements for the growing town and it was clear from the confusion some people had not read the rezoning application or understood the approval process.

The meeting was billed as an opportunity to oppose the plan rather than an opportunity to learn.

Perhaps it was an opportunity lost.

Losing faith

Children learn more than reading and maths at school.

Schools are also a social classroom (or a minefield) and, like a workplace, they are sometimes not very productive environments if there are problems going on at home.

That’s where the national school chaplaincy program steps in.

A good chaplain is someone outside the authority structure who can provide students with a listening ear, sound advice and referrals to specialist services when needed.

The Coalition-inspired program must have proved its worth because the Labor Government kept it in 2011 – but added provisions mandating minimum qualifications and the option for schools to have a secular student welfare worker instead of a faith-based chaplain.

There were sound reasons for introducing those provisions and it is puzzling why the Federal Government would now remove the secular option from a public school system that is very definitely secular.

Under the current system, chaplains cannot prosthelytise their religion in the provision of emotional support.

Therefore, it should make no difference to the Government if the people on the ground delivering its program are faith-based or secular.