A push is on within the federal government to renew, and significantly boost, the “absolutely essential” school chaplaincy program in this year’s budget.

The controversial initiative to insert religious chaplains into state schools – twice ruled invalid by the High Court – was amended but continued under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and cemented by Tony Abbott in the 2014 budget.

That budget committed more than $60 million a year to the project, affording an allowance of $20,000 per school for a religious chaplain to provide pastoral care and guidance for students.