Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell.

LOCAL politicians are hoping to find a way for former Mernda Primary School chaplain and Whittlesea Community Support Network organiser Chantelle Olafsen to continue supporting City of Whittlesea residents.

Ms Olafsen had used her role as a chaplain to spearhead the online support network, which has linked local residents with charities and other social services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December Ms Olafsen found out the government would no longer support her position at Mernda Primary School, leaving her role within the support network in doubt.

Without an income and the backing of the primary school, which allowed and encouraged her to operate the support network, Ms Olafsen said she would be unable to coordinate support services.

Federal Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said he had looked into how school chaplain positions were funded in order to see if there was a way for Mernda Primary School to retain Ms Olafsen.

“All Victorian schools were eligible to apply in 2020 to receive funding in the 2021 and 2022 school years under the National School Chaplaincy Program,” he said.

“The process was based on published criteria that were used to assess applications.

“I’ve been advised the application round was very competitive and, unfortunately, not all schools could be funded.

“The Department of Education received almost 900 submissions for funding and, with only limited funding available, it was not possible to accommodate every request.”

Mr Mitchell said there were still avenues for Mernda Primary School to retain Ms Olafsen.

“Schools that did not receive funding through the program can continue to engage a chaplain through school funds or a community partnership,” he said.

“I’ve also been advised that the school can discuss funding a chaplain and wellbeing supports directly with their senior education improvement leader, and I’d encourage them to do that.

“In the meantime, we’ve made sure that our local state MP, Danielle Green is aware and we know that she will do everything she can to help.”