You’re building community across cultures

Part of Australia’s beauty is found in its diversity. But diversity without a shared sense of community can lead to sharp divisions. Through your generous support and a grant…

Part of Australia’s beauty is found in its diversity. But diversity without a shared sense of community can lead to sharp divisions.

Through your generous support and a grant from Department of Home Affairs, SU Camps have launched the its first CHAT Super Sports Camp. These events bring campers together, helping them better understand and engage with different cultures and beliefs.

17-year-old lta, who comes from a Samoan background, first heard about the camp through her local church pastor.

“I went along with some people from my church,” lta says.

“My favourite sport was basketball – it was competitive and really fun.

“Even though I didn’t have any school friends with me on camp – I made new friends from different backgrounds and cultures.”

As much as she enjoyed the sport, lta says her favourite part of camp was the group chats after sport ended each day.

“Someone new would get up and speak about how they came to Australia and what it was like in their home country,” lta says.

“I really engaged with it – just hearing what they went through and how life was different for them.

“It changed my perspective. Their lives were so much harder and tougher than what I’ve been through here – a lot of them experienced racism.”

Camp Director Troy Wilson felt inspired and encouraged after seeing cultural barriers break down over the five-day camp.

“The goal is to get kids from different cultural backgrounds to come together, have fun and learn about one another in a safe space,” Troy says.

“Sport is the perfect medium for this. We had some kids who couldn’t speak English really well, but once you got them on a court or a playing field they understood how to work together to score a goal or get a ball over a net.”

The camp had a positive impact on lta. She said she’ll definitely come along to the next CHAT Camp.

“It’s a really memorable experience and heaps of fun too. It taught me that no matter what religion, culture or belief we have, we are still the same in that our humanity makes us ‘one’ – and regardless of our differences and difficulties culturally, we can overcome them all,” lta says.

Your support makes camps like this possible. We couldn’t do it without you. To find out how you can get behind camps like this one, head to suqld.org.au/camps or email camps@suqld.org.au

Posted: 5/03/2020

You’re creating safe spaces for our children

Stepping into high school is a massive step for many children. Everyone looks so much bigger, the workload and expectations (both academically and socially) rise. As parents it can…

Stepping into high school is a massive step for many children. Everyone looks so much bigger, the workload and expectations (both academically and socially) rise. As parents it can be stomach-wrenching enough, but for the individual child, it’s even more daunting.

For Chappy Deb, she’s passionate about supporting all young people, but she has a special heart for these young ones in transition.

One way she does this is through her A2B program, which your support is making possible in schools right around Queensland.

In 2019 the entire seventh grade went through the program at Kuranda District State College, and loved every minute of it.

“A2B is all about teaching life skills. I like to describe it as ‘understanding more about myself, others and the world,” says Chappy Deb.

“I am so passionate about this program. It covers some of the key issues young people are going through starting school. We learn things about identity, physical and emotional well-being, personalities, friendships, teamwork, anger responses, purpose and potential.”

“I use A2B as a tool for the students to understand themselves better, and learn how to better relate to others in their cohort. It also shows them that I am someone they can go to when they have issues, and that I’m someone they can trust.”

12-year old Joel says that the program created the space for him to have real-life conversations and ask some big questions.

“My favourite part of the program was getting to be all together and talk about life and emotions and things you don’t get to talk about in class. It was a safe space,” says Joel.

The program has helped foster a strong sense of community at Kuranda, which features a mix of students from indigenous, low socio-economic and high academic backgrounds.

“This program helps our young people understand the uniqueness and commonalities of individuals in their town. Even though these students come from totally different backgrounds, it shows them they still have things in common and can encourage each other when they’re facing challenges,” says Chappy Deb.

“The teachers also found the program hugely beneficial. It enabled them to see their students in a different context, as they saw students taking on various leadership responsibilities.”

Thanks to your support our children and young people are discovering more about themselves, others and the world around them. Your generosity is making a big difference! To help our young people continue to discover their meaning and purpose, visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 4/02/2020

Because of you, Jonan finished the race

Chaplains are desperately needed in our schools for many reasons. Amidst all the programs, breakfast clubs, fundraisers and events, our Chappies are there to look after the social, emotional…

Chaplains are desperately needed in our schools for many reasons. Amidst all the programs, breakfast clubs, fundraisers and events, our Chappies are there to look after the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of young people like Jonan.

Through your selfless and big-hearted support, Jonan’s story today is a very different one. He was very nearly another tragic statistic, but because of your support, the Charters Towers alumni was given a second chance.

“Jo would never have finished school if it wasn’t for Chappy Sharon,” says mum, Sue.

“His dad died when he was ten. Jo was diagnosed with ADD, Tourette’s and Sensory Integration Dysfunction. By the time he got to Grade 10, he’d lost his way. Because of his ADD, Jo would lose his concentration every two minutes, and over Grade 11 and 12 he saw Chappy Sharon on a regular basis. She sat by his side, constantly reminding him to keep on track with his work.”

“Mind you, Jo wasn’t an angel! We begged the school to give him another chance. The school agreed, but with conditions. At first I just sat and cried, fearing that Jo wouldn’t be able to meet the conditions they set.”

Despite the mountain that loomed ahead of him, Jonan began to climb one step at a time and Chappy Sharon never left his side.

“I confided in Chappy Sharon as a friend, and she helped me through. When it felt like I would fail, Chappy was the one who stood by my side and said, ‘Jo, you can do this,’” says Jonan.

“I wanted the experience of finishing school and graduating with my friends, and Chappy Sharon kept me focused. She helped me make a plan, and she rallied other teachers to help.”

“There are heaps of kids like me who are struggling and need extra support to keep on track. They need a chaplain just like I did.”

Chappy Sharon knew Jonan had it in him to succeed – he just needed to know someone believed in him.

“I sat by Jo’s side and provided educational support for eighteen months. He was always on the verge of walking out of class, but when he did he’d come straight to my office. I knew he needed to let it out (with lots of colourful language) and I was there to listen,” says Chappy Sharon.

“Truthfully, it was really tricky working in that space. But watching Jo keep on going and not give up made it worth it.”

“The walk I got to go on with Jo’s mum was also really valuable. Sue was anxious about her son’s future, but my heart was to bring peace to the situation and encourage her too.”

Through your faithfulness, Chappy Sharon was there for Jonan and Sue in a season of uncertainty, and was there to celebrate with the family when Jonan came out the other side victorious.

“In the end, Jo got his QCE. And four months later, he was offered the job of a Drillers Offsider, for which the minimum requirement was his Grade 12 certificate!” says Sue.

“It was a fight to the end, but I’m so grateful Chappy Sharon was there. Facing the possibility of having your child not finish school, and missing out on their full potential is an awful feeling. Chappy Sharon lifted such a burden for me.”

Thank you for supporting chappies across Queensland schools.

Your generosity means that chappies like Sharon, who are inspired by their faith, are there supporting our young people in need. To keep this vital support in our schools visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 15/01/2020

You helped these boys become overcomers

If we asked most camp leaders to identify ‘that one kid’ on camp who was a little more challenging than the rest, they’d come to mind almost instantly. Young…

If we asked most camp leaders to identify ‘that one kid’ on camp who was a little more challenging than the rest, they’d come to mind almost instantly.

Young people who anger easily and struggle to control their behavior can have a huge impact on the pace and feel of a camp. But the truth is, they can feel isolated and alone.

Don Truss’s heart for these at-risk youth spurred him to assemble a team of leaders to launch Overcomers Camp. The camp, which ran for the first time in the 2019 June/July school holidays, hosted 17 boys from South and Central Queensland schools.

The boys came from a diverse range of backgrounds. Some had a parent in trouble with the law or came from broken homes, while others had experienced alcoholism or substance abuse first-hand – or even a combination of all. The camp focused on loving and supporting these young people through a week of fun, yet sometimes messy activities.

“I guess the heart behind it is to support boys who are going through major challenges internally and don’t know how to express it without acting out or getting angry,” Don says.

“A bunch came off suspensions at school – when they feel threatened they often answer with their fists, which gets them into trouble. The week gave us a great chance to speak into that space, showing God’s love and giving them alternatives to the physical responses they often default to.”

The camp was themed around military history – focusing on how character and mateship are crucial for any good soldier.

“On the first day, we ran team challenges where the boys and leaders had to get everyone through obstacles in thick mud,” Don recalls.

“One of the rules was to get through together – no man left behind – so we got sent back to the start a lot of times!

“But in the end, they got through it together and the feeling of success as a group was such a powerful way to start camp.”

On top of the mud-based activities the boys conquered a range of obstacle courses, had flour bomb fights, explored tunnels together and ended the week zipping around in dirt buggies.

12-year-old camper Eli had a great time on camp.

“My favourite part was going through the mud,” Eli recalls.

“I think it’s important to have fun in life – this camp was heaps of fun and much more.

“I’d love to come again, and I’ll make sure I bring more of my mates with me!”

Overcomers Camp introduces 17 at-risk campers to aspects of leadership, responsibility, self-control, respect, forgiveness and mateship.

Thanks to your support, at-risk teens in regional communities are growing through tough circumstances at camps like Overcomers. Keep this vital support going – visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 7/11/2019

You were there when Kate felt alone

Families are not built to break, but sadly they do. Often children suffer the brunt of the consequences, and are left feeling unsafe, insecure and alone. Kate’s* parents separated…

Families are not built to break, but sadly they do. Often children suffer the brunt of the consequences, and are left feeling unsafe, insecure and alone.

Kate’s* parents separated when she was 7 years old. She felt alone in the world.

At her greatest moment of heartbreak and anguish, Kate found someone to lean on in her time of need – her school chaplain, Jen. You made this possible.

“I first met Kate in Grade 3 after her mum asked me to check in on her,” Chappy Jen says.

“She was extremely anxious – she wasn’t sleeping, which made her tired, which gave her headaches so she couldn’t concentrate on her work. It was a horrid cycle.

“She would grind her teeth nervously at school and her anxiety led to some really serious tummy pains.”

She was struggling with her feeling like her family wasn’t normal. Kate’s parents had separated.

“She was sad because she felt she didn’t have a normal family, so we talked about what a ‘normal family’ looked like,” Chappy Jen recalls. 

“I helped her see that each family is beautifully unique, and got her to think about the positives she could see in her situation.”

Kate said that through the support of Chappy Jen she was also able to access additional support to help her through.

“I felt like I was the only person in the world going through a family separation because I didn’t see any of my friends with the same problems,” Kate recalls.

“I was young enough to start, but not fully process the situation, so it just made me feel anxious and sad. This had a big impact on my school work – I struggled concentrating and my grades went down.”

Chappy Jen was there each week for Kate, which eventually helped her see the situation in a different light.

“She’d just speak to me like a friend would, but we didn’t always talk about the situation – sometimes we’d do drawings or play Skip-Bo,” Kate says.

“I remember her showing me a statistic that 1-in-4 families go through something similar to what I was going through, which made me feel way better. Just knowing I wasn’t the only one in the world who this was happening to made it more manageable.

“I remember one day she helped me write a letter to my dad to tell him how I was feeling. I never ended up showing dad the letter, but just writing it down took a huge weight off me.”

The impact this support had was incredible. In Grade 6 Kate was named school captain. Her mother Elise* learnt the value of chaplaincy firsthand through the process – and she couldn’t be more grateful.

“I don’t really know why I first went to Chappy Jen – but I’m glad I did,” Elise recalls.

“I guess I knew she was there in the school – it seemed like a good place to go and check on how Kate was doing.

“Jen recognised that she needed support, talked to me then referred her onto a GP to help her with her physical health issues.

“It’s really important for parents and families to have access to a chappy – it’s an invaluable service for those in need.”

Thanks to your support, school chaplains are there to support children like Kate through tough times. You can continue to support school chaplains at suqld.org.au/donate

*At the family’s request we have changed the names of certain individuals mentioned in this story. 

Posted: 15/10/2019

You helped sow hope in the outback

McKenzie met Chappy Aaron during a tough season. His life in Quilpie wasn’t in the best place, and there was no space for him to release his frustrations and…

McKenzie met Chappy Aaron during a tough season. His life in Quilpie wasn’t in the best place, and there was no space for him to release his frustrations and pain.

When Chappy Aaron and some local church members started up a local youth group, McKenzie discovered a community where everybody’s welcome, and is listened to. You helped make this possible.

“There’s a lot of needs in schools in the outback. Family issues, learning difficulties and lack of entertainment, to name a few,” Chappy Aaron says.

“There was a gap that needed filling. Now with youth group, our young people have something to look forward to every fortnight.

“They share a meal, play games, explore questions about faith and have theme nights.”

Over the last year and a half, McKenzie has bloomed thanks largely to the support of Chappy Aaron. He was recently given the opportunity to stay a week on a neighboring farm as part of his work experience.

“Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to work on the land in the outback. Now that I’m 15, I’ve started working and love it,” McKenzie says.

His new-found positivity has helped McKenzie recognise that, even when things aren’t perfect, hope is never far away.

“I know that different people have different challenges. That’s why every school needs a chaplain, to help people who need it,” McKenzie says.

“For me, Chappy Aaron’s the best because he does everything for everyone. He’s the best person they’ve got.”

Chappy Aaron knows that walking alongside McKenzie is a journey he won’t ever take for granted.

“Being a Chappy has challenged me at times, but it’s so rewarding. I’ve seen McKenzie grow, learn, develop, make mistakes, then have to grow, learn and develop again – as all young men do,” Chappy Aaron recalls.

“He has had to work hard and step up and be brave. He’s had to say sorry, then carry on and get to where he is today without giving up. Journeying alongside him makes me proud to be called Chappy.”

McKenzie’s life has turned around since meeting his Chappy. The difference has been noticed by teachers, who’ve commented, “Chappy Aaron, what have you done to McKenzie? Why is he so well behaved? We have seen a significant change in him over this last year.”

Through the support of friends like you, school chaplains are helping young people discover a better future. If you’d like to sow hope into the lives of young people, head to suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 10/10/2019

Training laid the tracks to save a life

Every 21 days someone commits suicide by jumping in front of a train in Australia*. This tragic statistic speaks volumes to the negative mental health epidemic our country is…

Every 21 days someone commits suicide by jumping in front of a train in Australia*. This tragic statistic speaks volumes to the negative mental health epidemic our country is up against.

For Steph Alksne and Miriam Frangakis, training they had received as part of their Diploma of Youth Work (CHC50413) with SU QLD (RTO 30548) gave them the confidence to help a stranger in the middle of a life-threatening situation.

“We were on the train home from our training day on crisis management and de-escalation when a young woman walked past us screaming,” Steph recalls. (more…)

Posted: 14/06/2019

Affirming the work of the Child Abuse Royal Commission

By Peter James, CEO SU QLD ‘Every child and young person matters deeply to God and deserves a safe and meaningful life’ In the year…

By Peter James, CEO SU QLD

‘Every child and young person matters deeply to God and deserves a safe and meaningful life’

[extract from SU QLD Values Statement]

In the year since the Child Abuse Royal Commission final report was released, [1] we have seen the beginnings of wide-ranging reforms we hope will change how communities and institutions ensure children are kept safe from sexual abuse.

As these changes take effect, we hope they will help bring healing, reduce the incidence of abuse, and ensure greater protection and better support for people who have experienced abuse.

These beginnings include:

  • important reforms to criminal laws and policing practices, in every state and territory, so that people who have experienced abuse and their families can have increased confidence in criminal justice processes that are kinder to people who have experienced abuse and more effective in the protection of children;
  • changes to state and territory laws for better oversight, coordination, information, and practices, and for a national child safety framework that is consistent across the nation; and
  • better information for institutions who care for children about how abuse happens, its effects for people who have experienced abuse, risk factors, and how institutions can keep children safe.

Of course, this is not a theoretical exercise in reform:  there are real lives at stake and the wellbeing of tens of thousands of people, both past abuse survivors and children in future generation to whom the community owes a sacred trust to get this right, and stamp out child sexual abuse.

Sadly, child abuse has been happening for generations and there are countless thousands of people who live every day as survivors of past abuse.  The Royal Commission heard more than 8000 of those stories, requiring great courage and determination for the survivors to recount their experience.  I have read hundreds of the case studies published by the Royal Commission: stories of the most egregious betrayal of trust, by those who should have protected and nurtured the child.

If you were abused and are suffering in silence, please get the support you need, rather than journeying alone.

I read one story of a 72 year old woman who wrote, ‘a lot of people seem to think, “Oh, you’re 72. Why would that still be on your mind?” But I mean, you’re reading it every day and hearing it on TV. Why wouldn’t it be?  … ‘Even now, I’ll have flashbacks and nightmares where I’m screaming out for help like as if someone’s coming in the night time to grab me or make me do things and I’ve never even told a GP because I’ve tried to act as normal as possible and just get on with life.’

It is impossible to read these accounts and not be moved.  But it is more than sympathy that is needed.  Real action is required to bring lasting change, so that the recommendations of the Royal Commission are implemented, and instances of abuse become something of the past.

SU QLD takes child protection very seriously and is adopting the recommendations of the Royal Commission, where not already embedded in our policies and procedures.  We have resolved to join the National Redress Scheme, established as a result of the Royal Commission.  While SU QLD was not named in the Royal Commission, the fact that our purpose is to work with children makes it possible that a future claim may arise, and we want to ensure that any people who have experienced abuse are acknowledged, supported and receive redress under the government scheme.

We want to play our part to ensure that every child can have a safe and meaningful life.

UPDATE: On 18 March 2020, SU QLD was accepted into the National Redress Scheme. Our decision to join the scheme is in keeping with SU QLD’s commitment to empowering and equipping our staff and volunteers to champion a child safe culture in bringing hope to a young generation.

[1] Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, presented to the Governor General on 15 December 2017.

Posted: 26/02/2019

Tackling bullying for our children’s sake

Sadly, bullying is common in our society, and our schools are not immune. This month’s Parenting Corner writer, educator and social entrepreneur Rachel Downie of racheldownie.com, shares her tips…

Sadly, bullying is common in our society, and our schools are not immune.

Educator and social entrepreneur, Rachel Downie.

This month’s Parenting Corner writer, educator and social entrepreneur Rachel Downie of racheldownie.com, shares her tips on how parents and grandparents can help their children in the schoolyard:

It’s important to understand what bullying is. It’s deliberate and repetitive behaviour which seeks to achieve dominance and power over another person.

More often than not, bullies act the way they do because they’ve learned it from others. A significant number of bullies have been bullied themselves (1).

Bullying is not: a one-off fight, equal-sided teasing, friends arguing, being bossy, or expressing negative thoughts.

There are four main types of bullying: physical, verbal, social (spreading rumours, social exclusion), and cyber bullying.

Bullying is a problem we all need to work as a community to solve.

If your child is bullied, teach them what to do. It’s also imperative as a loving community that we teach our kids to stand up for others, too, in a safe and respectful way.

You’ll be supporting them to change the culture and empowering them to say no to bullying!

References: 1. Olweus, D. (1999). Norway. In P. K. Smith, Y. Morita, J. Junger-Tas, D. Olweus, R. Catalano, & P. Slee (Eds.), The nature of school bullying: A cross-national perspective (pp. 7-27). London & New York: Routledge.
2. https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2018/11/uq-efforts-see-bullying-recognised-globally-contributor-mental-illness

As parents, grandparents and carers, what can we do?

  • Slow everything down and breathe! Please don’t lose it in front of your child (do that later in your bedroom). They’re already stressed and don’t need to take responsibility for your feelings (because they will).
  • Right now, you need to L I S T E N, H U G and L I S T E N again! Praise them for telling you because you want them to know they can always come to you. Ask, “What do you need right now?”
  • Don’t take over. As carers we want to ‘fix it’ and this means we want to drive what happens next. Your child needs to feel part of every step of the healing process, because they need to be the one walking forward.
  • Fact check. Is it bullying? Has it been repeated? Is it deliberate and aggressive? I know it’s hard but you’ve only heard one side of the story.
  • Collect evidence (particularly if it’s cyberbullying).
  • If it is school based, contact the school. Make an appointment to see the relevant staff member. Don’t forget, the school and you are on the same team – your child’s. It’s important you let them guide you.
  • Role model appropriate behaviour.
  • Don’t contact the parents of the other child.
  • The school is your intermediary.

Posted: 5/02/2019

Horsing around reaps powerful change for Mikayla

Two years ago, Mikayla struggled with poor self-image and low self-esteem. Today, she’s a role model and an inspiration to others, including her best friend, who is now following…

Two years ago, Mikayla struggled with poor self-image and low self-esteem. Today, she’s a role model and an inspiration to others, including her best friend, who is now following in her footsteps.

Behind Mikayla’s massive transformation has been the loving support of her school chaplain, Erin, and her team of equine friends. You helped make that possible.

Allora P-10 State School chaplain, Erin Wilson, runs Mane Matters, a horse program that focusses on the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of students from diverse backgrounds.

“We’ve worked with young people with major behavioural disorders, some with backgrounds of abuse, and others who have autism. We’ve had both bullies and the bullied, and young people who are grappling with who they are and their place in the world,” Chappy Erin says.

Since joining the program, Mikayla has made huge strides in her confidence and overall sense of wellbeing – and her love of horses.

“I’m more confident getting up in front of people now. I’ve learned how to have a relationship based on mutual respect. It’s such an amazing feeling when you connect with a horse that chooses to work with you. Chappy Erin calls it a heart-to-heart moment,” Mikayla says.

The bond between the horses and students is a huge Catalyst for change
– a chance to build confidence, trust, and self-esteem.

For Mikalya, there’s one horse in particular that she’s connected with.

“Fuggles is my favourite. I’ve been involved in her training and rehabilitation from previous bad experiences. I’ve loved seeing her transform from a scared, antisocial pony to now being able to trust people,” says Mikayla.

Mane Matters is also about supporting young people to make meaningful connections with the horses – the benefits of which flow both ways.

“Fuggles was one of our rescue ponies with a background of trauma and we never thought she’d be a ‘program pony’ at all. But now she’s one of our best,” says Erin.

A big reason for this, Erin explains, is the love and support Mikayla and the other students have shown Fuggles.

“Horses show us a lot about ourselves. They can act like a mirror for what we’re feeling and how we’re behaving,” she says.

Chappy Erin has seen many young people start the program with no self-confidence. But before long, they find their courage and begin to flourish.

“It’s about getting them to remain calm and be gentle with the horses. When the children are calm, the horses respond. It’s like that verse in the Bible that says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’. It’s in those calm and quiet times that we make those special connections,” she says.

Joining the Mane Matters program is not for the faint-hearted. There’s a lot of hard work involved and each student is expected to roll up their sleeves to help out. Mikalya is one who has risen to the challenge and is now mentoring others.

“I’ve seen a girl grow in confidence. I’ve seen her develop leadership skills and she’s really stepped into that mentoring role. It’s so encouraging to see,” says Chappy Erin.

Mikalya’s best friend, Sam, agrees.

“I decided to do this program after seeing the change in Mikayla’s life. I wanted what she had,” says Sam.

Your support is keeping chaplains like Erin in schools across Queensland. Thank you! 

To learn more about Chappy Erin’s Mane Matters program, check out the Facebook page, or to support her work directly, click here championyourchappy.everydayhero.com/au/erin-wilson

Posted: 5/02/2019

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