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High Court in favour of father

 

TOOWOOMBA father Ron Williams has brought the Federal Government's school chaplaincy program to its knees.

Mr Williams successfully challenged the chaplaincy program, with the High Court declaring it invalid.

The court also found that payments to Scripture Union Queensland, the main provider of the state's chaplaincy services, were not in line with the Constitution.

Mr Williams was in Sydney yesterday to receive the judgement - more than two years after the challenge was launched.

He was joined by some of the thousands of supporters who offered financial and moral support.

They donated more than $100,000 to help pay the legal costs of the challenge.

"They're the ones weighing heavily on my psyche today," Mr Williams said.

"When they heard the decision would be (yesterday) they started emailing, thanking me for what I've done.

"They were all by my side."

Mr Williams said his fight was far from over despite the High Court's ruling. He and his supporters were now demanding a senate inquiry into the chaplaincy program.

"It was a political exercise; it was pork barrelling in the worst order," Mr Williams said.

"They used our children as vote bait.

"There needs to be an inquiry to find out how (the chaplaincy program) came to be and how this money got thrown away."

Mr Williams did not win his claim on every count.

A controversial part of the case, that the grant breached freedom of religion principles laid out in the Constitution, was dismissed.

But Mr Williams said the challenge was never about religion.

"I'm a fervent believer in a constitutional separation between church and state. It's no more or less than that."

Scripture Union Queensland incoming chief Peter James said the High Court's ruling simply meant chaplains would need to find new funding.

Mr James said he expected that to happen quickly enough to ensure no chaplains were lost.

"It is not the end of chaplaincy," he said.


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