The role of school chaplain is to provide social, emotional and spiritual support to students, regardless of whether the student has a particular faith.
Chaplaincy is non-coercive, but it recognises the importance of spirituality for young people. Promoting positive spirituality for children and young people is important for their overall development.5 This is recognised in state education department wellbeing frameworks.
Spirituality is not meant to be something strange or foreign to us, but something vital that pulls together the various facets of our lives in meaningful ways. Spirituality is about a way of seeing the world and, even more importantly, being in the world. Positive spirituality has been shown to contribute to positive health and wellbeing, recovery from illness, and long life.6
School chaplains engage around questions of beliefs, values and ethics; help students explore spiritual identity; provide a spiritual / religious perspective on relevant issues; liaise with local spiritual and religious groups; and support students and the school community in times of grief and loss when some of the big questions of life arise for them. Chaplains ensure that spirituality is not forgotten as an essential part of people’s overall wellbeing.
5 The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals, which is foundational in the Australian Education system, recognises the importance of spirituality in the holistic development of children and young people. Ministerial Council on Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians (MCEECDYA, 2008), p4.
6 Cornah, D. (2006), The Impact of Spirituality on Mental Health: A Review of the Literature. London: Mental Health Foundation.