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Louisa’s Story

School chaplains play a vital role in supporting the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our young people. Louisa’s story is a beautiful first-hand account that shows how your…

School chaplains play a vital role in supporting the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our young people. Louisa’s story is a beautiful first-hand account that shows how your support is making a difference…

Louisa’s Story – April, 2021

I remember the first day of school sitting under the lunch area alone with my earphones.

I didn’t want to talk to anybody.

As a new kid I felt like everyone would make fun of me. Chappy Jennie started a conversation with me and introduced me to all the year 11 students. I was so shy but she encouraged me to be brave. At school I was a rebel kid.

One day I was struggling in maths. I was so upset that I left without the teacher’s consent. Chappy brought me into her staffroom and asked me to explain what was wrong. I explained to her about the situation that was bugging me. The advice she gave me was to forgive, keep trying and move forward. From that day on I started showing up to class early and participated in all my maths.

I also had trouble speaking in front of an audience. Just remembering how nervous I was I asked Chappy if she could pray for me. She did. And just like that, I got over stage fright.  

My name is Louisa and I am in year 12 at Home Hill State High School and I am the Indigenous Leader of the school. I also attend the Crossfire youth group that Chappy runs on Friday nights. I help Chappy Jennie keep the younger kids doing the right thing on the bus. 

Posted: 13/08/2021

Chappy hits the nail on the head to boost self-esteem

Low self-esteem can have a far-reaching impact on a young person’s life. It’s why Chappy Steve is passionate about giving his students at Isabella State School opportunities to excel…

Low self-esteem can have a far-reaching impact on a young person’s life. It’s why Chappy Steve is passionate about giving his students at Isabella State School opportunities to excel and thrive.

Thanks to the support of friends like you and his local community, including Mulgrave Baptist Church, Chappy Steve’s been hammering this point home for the past seven years through his woodworking program for Year 6 students at the Cairns-based primary school.

Sports-leader, Chappy helper and Year 6 graduate Henry, enjoyed his time in the woodworking program in Term 4 last year.

“We got to design our own clocks. Mine was in the shape of the Torres Strait flag – and when my older brother did the program, he made his clock in the shape of a basketball,” says Henry.

“I like that this program made me feel like I’m a part of something.”

Chappy Steve teamed up with a local woodwork teacher to deliver the program, which aimed to grow self-confidence and provide students with a valuable skill set.

“The students experience the feeling of success with this program, which they may not necessarily experience with their academic work.

“I like that this program made me feel like I’m part of something special.”

“One boy who doesn’t always have positive interactions with the staff was so proud of his clock that he was really keen to show it to the Principal and Deputy Principal,” says Chappy Steve.

“It gives these students the opportunity to learn new skills that will give them a head-start for high school woodworking subjects.”

Like all school chaplains, Steve firmly believes that each child has inherent value in God’s eyes. It’s why he ensures that each student’s success is celebrated, but there is also a clear understanding that grades and accolades are not the measure of an individual’s worth.

“Each week we start with a quick bite to eat, followed by a short inspirational message, based on the theme for that week.

“Then our local woodworking teacher, Hank and his son Mark come along to teach the students the correct way to design and build their clocks. It’s a great collaboration.”

Henry enjoyed learning about the “Golden Rule” – or as he says, “treat your mates how you want to be treated.”

Thank you for your support for our young people.

To keep this vital work going, visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 22/07/2021

Lord Mayor hears your Stories of Hope

It’s exciting to see what God is doing through SU in Australia and the impact that trusted and trained Christians are having as they serve on the frontlines of…

It’s exciting to see what God is doing through SU in Australia and the impact that trusted and trained Christians are having as they serve on the frontlines of our communities.

It’s an impact that more of our political and community leaders are taking notice of.

Earlier this year, SU Australia Group CEO Peter James joined with other Christian leaders to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, to discuss the role Christian organisations will play in Australia’s post-COVID recovery.

Most recently, Peter was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, where he shared the many challenges our young people are facing in our communities.

But more than that, he shared how your support is meeting those needs for the most vulnerable.

More than 500 dignitaries and members of the community attended the breakfast, including Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Lady Mayoress Nina Schrinner, local councillors and members of parliament.

In his speech, Peter shared the story of a young woman who had grown up in an abusive home, and had developed a deep sense of shame – not for what she had ever done, but for what had been done to her.

She grew up being told she was stupid and worthless… And then she met her school chaplain, Matt.

In a letter written by this young woman she said:

“For some reason I felt safe in [Chappy’s] office. I poured out my heart to him. I told him the truth about my life. He was a safe option, and the only person I’d ever opened up to.”

Peter went on to say…

“[Chappy] was able to find her a safe place to live, a church family who took her in for her last years of schooling.

“It was the first time she’d been part of a normal, functional family. She discovered for the first time in her life what it meant to be loved. She discovered for the first time what it meant to have someone who thought she was worthwhile, not worthless,” said Peter.

While this specific story may be new to you, it’s a story you’ve heard many times before as a vital part of our SU family. You are making these stories of hope possible through your prayers and financial support. Please continue to pray with us for our ongoing ministry, particularly as we reach out to new communities as SU Australia.

Pray also for our political and community leaders to continue to see the value that trusted and trained Christians bring in meeting the needs of our young people who are searching for meaning, purpose and hope.

Posted: 14/07/2021

Chappy Tony and the life of an outback community chaplain…

Most of us understand the importance of having someone to lean on when the road gets a little bumpy. But the job description of a school chaplain holds a…

Most of us understand the importance of having someone to lean on when the road gets a little bumpy. But the job description of a school chaplain holds a special place in the hearts of those in our regional communities.

For Chappy Tony, he’s served in this unique calling for many years. When he speaks of his years of service, you can see the delight on his face. He is a testimony of Acts 20:35 – that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

Although his journey has taken him far and wide, in more recent years Tony has been located in Central and West Queensland. It’s here that he’s truly landed the title of “Community Chaplain.” For outback communities like Alpha and Jericho, the chaplain isn’t just there for the school students and teachers. They’re there for anyone who needs support.

“There are unique things in these regions that have an impact on communal wellbeing — the drought is one of them,” explains Tony.

“As chaplains, we frequently team up with organisations, churches and other schools to help raise money to support the community.”

In rural communities, the health of land and livestock is linked to the community’s wellbeing. On one occasion, Chappy Tony and some friends were delivering semi-trailer loads of hay for the people in town when they had an unexpected encounter.

“There was a man who came up to us with tears in his eyes. He said, ‘Why are you doing this for us?’ He was stunned that we’d be helping him and his neighbours in this way.

“Over the years, I’ve seen resilience from people who are determined to stay on their land, even in the hardships. It’s a blessing to align with the needs of the community – even if it is as simple as handing out hay,” says Chappy Tony.

“Some people misunderstand the role of a chaplain. It’s about being there. It’s about going along to a cattle camp, or joining in on things to look after the welfare of young people. It’s about being real and being part of the community God has called you to be in.”

And the truth is, there is a desperate need for more chaplains in our remote communities. The work is plentiful – but the labourers are few.

If you’ve always dreamed of living out your faith in the service of others, school chaplaincy is calling you today.

Visit suqld.org.au/morehands and find out more.

Posted: 3/05/2021

Dust off your walking shoes – strolling is back in

Taking full advantage of the crisp Autumn weather, the Cooloola Schools Chaplaincy Committee trialled a new fundraising event with a Chappy River Walk on Saturday, April 10.  Eleven chappies…

Taking full advantage of the crisp Autumn weather, the Cooloola Schools Chaplaincy Committee trialled a new fundraising event with a Chappy River Walk on Saturday, April 10. 

Eleven chappies from this region put their heads together to organise this family-friendly event, and it was a big success!

“This year was the first time we held a fundraising event like this. In the past, our region has held dinners and trivia nights, but we thought this would be a great way to build closer relationships with churches and the local community,” says Ronnie, chaplain at Rainbow Beach State School.

“After the isolation of last year, we were hoping this would be a lovely time for connection – and it was.”

In an effort to encourage families and younger children who took part in the walk, Chappy Ronnie and some of the other chaplains came up with a unique idea.

“Bunnings kindly donated a selection of rocks for the event, so we painted about 75 ‘kindness rocks’ which were hidden along the walk for the kids to find. There were a couple of special gold-painted ones, which alludes to the history of Gympie [a gold-mining town].”

“We wrote positive messages on all the rocks – things like ‘be kind’ and ‘shine’. It’s good to be reminded to look out for one another.”

8-year-old Charlotte Turner with the kindness rocks she found

At the end of the walk, the chappies and Cooloola Chaplaincy Committee organised a celebration on the grass, complete with live music, food and face painting. It was a welcome change of pace for families and a fun way to kick off the weekend.

“Families love to walk alongside the beautiful Mary River, and this event was a really great way to raise money for chaplaincy at the same time,” said Chappy Ronnie.

“There are a lot of people in our community who are unaware what chappies do, so we wanted to raise awareness and show that we are a kind and friendly face in the community.”

 

For more information on what school chaplains do, head to our 2021 Chaplaincy Snapshot.

Posted: 28/04/2021

Your support gave Saarah a sense of belonging in a new culture

When mum Sihaam and her young family migrated to a small North Queensland community from South Africa in 2013, they worked hard to integrate into a new and foreign…

When mum Sihaam and her young family migrated to a small North Queensland community from South Africa in 2013, they worked hard to integrate into a new and foreign culture.

Thanks to your support, chappies like Wendy are trained and equipped to journey with families like Sihaam’s to help them thrive.

In addition to being qualified, Wendy also sees each and every person she supports through God’s eyes – and that makes supporting families like Sihaam’s all the more special.

Wendy worked with Saarah (Grade 4) and her sister, from their first day of school.

“There were some teasing and bullying issues. Some boys would tease them for wearing their hijab. I made sure [the girls] knew I was always there if they needed a safe person to talk to,” says Wendy.

For Sihaam, she knew her daughters would face challenges.

“When my girls first arrived at school, they were practicing Muslims and their accents were a bit different. Whenever a terrorist incident was on the news, my girls would feel the repercussions of that.

“Navigating differences like that in a school is hard, but Chappy Wendy was there for my children. She helped them feel a sense of belonging.”

Chappy Wendy was a constant source of support for the family, including a source of spiritual support.

Like Christians, a Muslim’s faith is central to their identity, which is why the family took comfort in knowing they had a safe person at school who could advocate for their spiritual and practical needs.

“Despite our different beliefs, there’s more focus on what’s the same about us. We formed a beautiful friendship and my girls felt comfortable with her as well,” Sihaam says.

Wendy also played a key role in helping Saarah transition back to school after a brief period of homeschooling. In 2020, Wendy attended Saarah’s graduation.

“What I found really amazing was that even though she is a Christian chaplain, she went above and beyond for kids of other faith backgrounds like me,” Saarah says.

Wendy is so proud of Saarah and her family who are now thriving in their adopted country. She’s also grateful for the training she’s received, which plays a vital role in the support she gives.

“If I didn’t have the Diploma, I don’t think I would have been able to do half the things I’ve done as a chappy,” says Wendy.

Through your generosity, chappies like Wendy are being trained and equipped to support those in need.

If you’re passionate about bringing hope to a young generation, find out more about our training opportunities with SU QLD (RTO 30458), visit training.suqld.org.au

Posted: 7/04/2021

You helped Dean overcome his anger

“You stuck by my side after I’d screamed at you, swore at you and pushed you away for weeks. You stuck by me.” – an excerpt of a letter…

“You stuck by my side after I’d screamed at you, swore at you and pushed you away for weeks. You stuck by me.” – an excerpt of a letter from Dean to his chappy.

When Dean was in Grade 7, in his North Queensland community of the Burdekin, he found himself locked in a losing battle against anger and frustration. But in his corner, he had a constant source of support and someone he could trust – Chappy Jennie.

Your support meant Dean had a trusted and trained friend in those moments when he needed it most. Your support changes lives.

“I’ll never forget the day I met Chappy. I thought there was no getting better. I felt sadness, anger and disgust at myself,” says Dean.

“Chappy helped lift me out of the dark hole I was in after I’d been suspended. There were times I was too angry to talk or too sad to find the words, but she always managed to understand what I was going through.

“I owe her more than I can think of.” For adults it’s a struggle to control emotions, but for our young people that struggle can be overwhelming, and can lead to destructive behaviour

To help support young people in this space, chappies like Jennie are delivering the RAGE program in schools across Queensland.

“Our school has facilitated the RAGE Program a number of times. It’s about navigating and managing negative emotions.

“It opens up conversations where you can help students develop new ways of thinking and responding to the challenges and issues that confront them,” says Chappy Jennie.

“We look at the 4 T’s of anger (Triggers, Thoughts, Tantrums and Trouble). We talk about how anger can be like the loop of a racing-car track – you have to decide when to get off the road and work through your emotions or else things can escalate.”

From her background in youth justice to over a decade of experience as a school chaplain, Jennie has a passion to see young lives changed.

“There’s nothing better than encouraging young people and to walk beside them and tell them they can do it.”

“A lot of issues begin in the early years. If a young person isn’t given space to speak up and talk to someone, it can be a really slippery slope. That’s why I believe in chaplaincy.”

Thank you for supporting chaplains who serve in the early intervention and prevention space. Your support keeps this vital, life-changing ministry going in our school communities.

Visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 7/04/2021

Chappy Beck and her school bring special book to life

Story books from childhood have a special way of staying with us as we journey into adulthood. And more than that, stories with positive values can shape our decisions…

Story books from childhood have a special way of staying with us as we journey into adulthood. And more than that, stories with positive values can shape our decisions and cultivate healthy habits.

Australian author Brian Andrews, was inspired to help parents and grandparents have real and honest conversations with their children – but he was unprepared for the impact his best-seller “I Grow in Grandad’s Garden” would make over the next eleven years.

Inspired by the book’s themes, school communities like Chappy Beck’s have gone to the next level and created their very own “Grandad’s Garden.”

“I love using this book in my conversations with young people. Not only does it encourage their reading and literature skills, but it asks interactive questions for the students to think about their emotions,” says Chappy Beck.

“There’s a need for belonging and community in our schools and our “Grandad’s Garden” provides a place for children to feel safe having those pastoral conversations.”

“It’s an intentional space where the students can come and reflect. We weather-proofed pages of the book and stuck it on the walls so they can see it while they’re chatting.”

Best-selling authors, Brian and Moira Andrews

Author Brian Andrews and his wife Moira made a guest appearance at Undurba State School’s garden opening in August, and shared that the book has made waves in communities as far away as Romania.

“I was so excited when I received the first email from a school who had built a garden. The content came out of my heart and the values that mean a lot to me, so it’s astonishingly humbling to see what has happened and the impact it has had across many countries,” says Brian.

“At its core, this book is a tool to help children manage and identify their feelings.”

“Initially it wasn’t even on my mind to write a children’s book. We had a visitor at our home and I was explaining the four spots in the garden where I sit with my grandchildren – she was the one who said it would make a great kids’ book.”

Brian’s wife Moira, also an author, was asked to write a book from a Grandma’s perspective, so “I Grow in Grandma’s Garden” was born in 2014.

“People came up to me saying, ‘We love the concept of ‘Grandad’s’ book, but it doesn’t fit in our situation.’ “Grandma’s Garden” is complementary, but focuses on being mindful with our thoughts,” says Moira.

“I describe good thoughts as being bubbles of happiness in your heart, and how worried thoughts are like weeds – you’ve got to pull them out and throw them away.”

Moira’s book, “I Grow in Grandma’s Garden”

“One little boy was going to swimming lessons but he was really afraid of the water, so he looked up at his mum and said “Grandad said, ‘courage is stepping towards something that you’re afraid of’” and then he got in the pool. He was only three or four years old. That story stuck with me because he remembered the words and applied them. Who would imagine one page of a book could change a child’s life?”

These incredible little books have sparked conversations for our young people to share openly about issues they’re facing, and parents, grandparents, teachers and mental healthcare professionals have thanked Brian and Moira for their insightful writing.

The best part is thanks to your generous support, Chappy Beck can now introduce a whole new generation of young people to “I Grow in Grandad’s and Grandma’s Garden!”

Your ongoing support means our children have a trusted and trained chaplain equipped to sit with them at school and care for their wellbeing. Thank you! To help us keep this vital work going, visit suqld.org.au/give

Posted: 21/12/2020

Chappy turns back the clock to bring hope during covid

The days of writing and receiving letters via the post hold fond memories for many, but for our young generation the practice is quite a novelty. When lockdowns and…

The days of writing and receiving letters via the post hold fond memories for many, but for our young generation the practice is quite a novelty.

When lockdowns and learning from home became the norm earlier in the year, Chappy Sam in Rockhampton thought this would be the perfect time to resurrect this practice and show personalised care to the families in her community.

Through your support, chappies like Sam have been supporting communities in need right through the uncertainty of COVID-19. Thank you!

Chappy Sam teamed up with the school’s Guidance Officer Mel, to send well-being packs to students and their families.

“We’ve had a lot of disasters in our region over the past couple of years – floods, fires, you name it. In the middle of times of stress and trauma, it’s important to remind people there’s help available and there’s people you can turn to,” says Chappy Sam.

“Mel and I wanted to do something that would bring a smile to the kids’ faces. The packs we sent out had a letter to the parents, a recipe, some online dance activities, a mental health guide, some breathing techniques and a postcard for the kids with stickers and a balloon.”

“I sent about 500 packs between my two schools – it took about a week to put it all together! We had a lot of positive feedback from teachers and parents, saying they felt really cared for, which was awesome to hear.”

Mum of three, Kathryn, says she was so grateful to have her school chappy.

“Our family has had a really rough year and without the help from Chappy Sam I don’t think we would have made it through. My kids rave about Chappy – she makes each one of them feel special,” says Kathryn.

Kathryn’s middle daughter, Izzabella, says she was excited to receive the care package because it took her mind off what was happening in the world around her.

School chaplaincy is about modelling the love and compassion of Jesus by helping those in need, and connecting people to community.

When familiar things are taken away and our young people are feeling out of place, it’s important to remind them they are not alone.

Thanks to your continuous support, chaplains like Sam are looking out for our young people.

To help others receive the unconditional support of a school chaplain, head to suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 16/11/2020

Your support is crossing borders for families like Kim’s

Christmas is a special time of year, full of celebrations, food and family. But for Kim and her grandsons, last Christmas was when their world turned upside down. “The…

Christmas is a special time of year, full of celebrations, food and family. But for Kim and her grandsons, last Christmas was when their world turned upside down.

“The house we’d lived in for eight years was sold underneath us, all of our furniture had to be put in storage and we were technically homeless,” says Kim.

At the same time, Kim’s dad was battling terminal kidney cancer in New South Wales.

“We moved to be nearer to him but this meant the boys had to leave the school they’d been at their whole school lives.

“At the time, nobody knew what was going on. Furniture removalists showed up and the kids were asking, ‘Nan, what’s happening?’ It was just awful,” recalls Kim. 

Even though Kim and her grandsons were going through some massive life hurdles, thanks to you, there was a glimmer of hope just ahead.

A few months before, Chappy Julie nominated this precious family to receive a Christmas hamper as part of an initiative that St Andrews Hospital was running. There was just one problem. By the time Chappy found out that Kim’s family had been selected, they’d already moved to Wollongong. 

Undeterred, Chappy Julie knew she had to find a way to get these gifts to the family. A road trip with a teacher turned out to be the solution.

“We arranged to meet halfway in Port Macquarie. We stayed overnight, and in the morning handed out the gifts along with some extra cash and a card from the workers at St Andrews – it was really beautiful,” says Chappy Julie.

“Kim is the sort of person who does everything for everyone. She’d never ask for anything, so being able to be there for her and the boys was really special.”

It’s because of you that Chappy Julie was in place to drive nearly 10 hours to share the Christmas spirit with Kim and her grandsons. Thank you!

For Kim, this gesture of kindness went above and beyond her expectations of the role of a chappy. 

“I know it’s a job, but Chappy Julie goes above that. Even when I was doing it really tough in NSW, she’d call to check in and ask after the kids.”

“There just aren’t any words to describe it. Even now, a year later, I still can’t believe it. What Chappy and the team did for us brought a bit of human faith back,” says Kim.

24 hours before the borders closed in late March, Kim and her grandsons made it back up north, and are now happily settled into their school community once again. Chappy Julie, of course, is thrilled to have them back!

“I’m always saying chappies aren’t just there for the young people – we’re about whole families,” says Chappy Julie.

Thanks to kind-hearted supporters like you, families like Kim’s have someone looking out for them when times are tough. Please keep this vital work going. Visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 28/10/2020

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