#ChappyWeek profile – Matt Brady

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to honour some of our incredible chappies who have defined what it means to be there for…

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to honour some of our incredible chappies who have defined what it means to be there for the long-haul in supporting the next generation.

For almost as long as we’ve had chaplaincy in Queensland schools, students, staff and families at Burnside State High have been blessed by Chappy Matt Brady.

He is SU QLD’s longest-serving chaplain and has been supporting the Sunshine Coast school community of Burnside High for 25 years.

Matt says he’s inspired by the resilience of the kids he sees at school every day.

“When you hear their stories, see the pain in their eyes and the heartbrokenness on their face – but they keep going – that’s what inspires me,” Matt says.

“I really think the kids of this generation have got it really tough, and I felt a calling to chaplaincy to see if I could help alleviate some of that; to show kids that life doesn’t have to go in one direction and they can make positive choices for themselves.

“Media, advertising and society are telling kids ‘who they are’ – and how they need to act. I think kids need someone to bat for them and help them take hold of who they are for themselves.”

When asked about some of his strongest memories from his time as a chappy, Matt says one particular student stood out.

“I met Aleaha when she was in Grade 9, she came and talked to me because she’d had a little to do with the chaplain at a previous school,” Matt recalls.

“She had a very hard life – through some circumstances and being removed from her home, she became suicidal and was cutting herself.

“One day the principal rang me and said Aleaha was out on the road in front of the school; she was fighting off staff trying to throw herself under a bus.

“I can’t remember what I said that day over the phone, but she says that whatever I said made a difference and stopped her at that moment from wanting to kill herself.

“Following that incident we started catching up more regularly and I connected her with professional support services outside the school. She’s now studying to become a teacher.”

Matt says having a chaplain in the school is key, so that kids have someone they can talk to about anything that’s on their mind.

“It’s a unique position. Kids don’t see us as part of the system – so they’re more comfortable approaching us and coming to talk to us,” Matt says.

“We’re the only people in school whose sole job is listening to kids, and that’s really important.”

There’s currently multiple chaplaincy positions in schools right across Queensland. If you love working with children and young people, and are feeling called to a career where you can make a positive difference to the next generation visit suqld.org.au/morehands!

“If you are feeling called and compelled to follow chaplaincy – don’t hesitate,” Matt says.

If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are various roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands

Posted: 29/05/2020

#ChappyWeek profile – Andrea Lee

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some of our chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation….

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some of our chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation.

Andrea Lee has is the school chaplain at Palarra State School and Yeronga State High School. She’s been a chappy for 7 years.

“I always knew I wanted to work with young people, but I had no idea at what capacity,” Andrea recalls.

“I started as a teacher, but found I wasn’t as interested in teaching as I was in why students were behaving in a certain way. I was more interested in what’s going on in their life and how I might be able to help them.

“There are so many kids who need support. I see a lot of primary kids who go through parental separation – and are asking really tough questions like ‘why am I going back and forth from house to house?’ or ‘is this my fault?’.

“I just listen and try to help them understand what’s going on a bit better. I don’t always know everything that’s going on at home, but I myself came from a broken family, so I guess in that sense I can relate to them and their experience.”

Being able to make a difference both emotionally and practically – that’s one of the things Andrea loves most about being a chappy.

“One point I really felt like I was making a difference was with a young boy I supported in primary school,” Andrea recalls.

“I noticed that when he came to school each day his shirts weren’t being cleaned, so I asked him ‘do you want to learn how to wash your shirt?’ – he said he’d like to do that. He told me he didn’t know how to use a washing machine and his mum and dad wouldn’t show him how.

“From that point, one day a week first thing in the morning I’d go collect this student and show him how to handwash his shirt so he could actually do that and wash his other clothes at home.

“That was a beautiful thing because I was able to engage with him, show him someone cared for him and valued him, and also teach him a valuable life skill.”

Andrea says chaplaincy is one of the greatest jobs if you love to support young people.

“If you really have a passion to support young people through hardships, chaplaincy is one of the greatest ways to do it,” Andrea says.

“If you have the drive and love to help kids and teenagers – do chaplaincy.”

If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are various roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands

Posted: 28/05/2020

#ChappyWeek profile – Andrea Eadie

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some long-term chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation. For…

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some long-term chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation.

For Andrea Eadie, she says a desire to work with young people to help them reach their potential was what motivated her to become a chappy.

“I was teaching high school science and math, and as much as algebra ‘changes lives’, I suppose I didn’t really feel like I was changing lives,” Andrea says.

“One of the turning moments was after I kept a Grade 11 student back at lunch for messing up in class. I didn’t get mad at him, I simply asked ‘what’s up?’

“He responded by asking me ‘have you had anyone close to you commit suicide?’ – it turned out his father’s brother had committed suicide the night before and he had just been sent along to school like everything was normal.

“That incident led me to thinking about working with young people in a different capacity – as opposed to being a teacher.”

Andrea studied counselling, and eventually applied to become the chappy at Patricks Road State School, where she has since worked for the past 19 years.

“I love that chaplaincy is all about linking people together,” Andrea says.

“You link people with each other, you link people with helping agencies and churches when additional support is needed, and you link kids with other kids and teach them how to support each other.”

When asked about some of her favourite parts of being a chappy, Andrea says it’s not always about the work she does herself.

“One of the things that I love the most about chaplaincy is the things that I don’t actually do,” Andrea recalls.

“A while ago I worked with a mum who had breast cancer; I linked her to another mum who had been on the same journey a while, and these mums just grew close and started to care for each other. When one of them was in chemo, the other would cook meals and do school pick-ups for the other.

“That support and connection is beautiful – all I had to do was ask if they’d like to connect.”

Another family that stood out to Andrea was facing a unique problem as their kids walked through primary school.

“One journey that’s close to my heart started when I met a boy at our school who had two hearing-impaired parents,” Andrea recalls.

“In addition to the disabilities that his parents faced, there were financial and social struggles as they tried to adjust to a society that was different from the way they had to work in their family.

“As I worked with that family through various health crises and situations I was able to put a lot of support mechanisms into place; simple things like organising translators when there was a school meeting, taking the mum along to affordable grocery stores, as well as working with the kids who had very different social abilities to their peers.

“Watching them leave primary school and since move into adult employment – which was a huge win for one young man in particular – is so inspiring and encouraging.”

Andrea says those who feel called to chaplaincy should follow that call.

“If you’re looking into chaplaincy, the first thing I’d say is equip yourself as much as possible,” Andrea says.

“If you can stay in the space of building and developing relationships over a period of time, that kind of chaplaincy will grow into something that you would never have believed possible.”

If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are various roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands

Posted: 26/05/2020

#ChappyWeek profile – Chris Macnaught

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some long-term chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation. Our…

As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some long-term chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation.

Our next chappy isn’t actually a chappy anymore! Chris Macnaught worked as a chappy at Balmoral State High School from 1994 to 1997 and at Wavell State High School from 2000 to 2006.

Since then he’s been a Field Development Manager for SU QLD – supervising and supporting school chaplains who work on Brisbane’s northside.

Chris says his love for supporting young people inspired him to become a school chaplain.

“Young people are very resilient and curious and energetic, as well as being inspiring and hardworking – being able to support that as a chappy was a real joy for me,” Chris says.

“So many kids these days are struggling with self-esteem, mental health and family separations – among many other issues. Being able to walk that long journey with young people to empower them is a privilege.”’

Chris says there were countless kids he remembers, but one in particular stood out.

“One young man used to be at my office door pretty much every day before school, morning tea, lunch and after school,” Chris recalls.

“Dad wasn’t around, and he was really struggling with that, so I supported him over five years of high school. I didn’t really have much to do with mum, but just listened to him and supported him with the activities and things he was involved in.

“At his year 12 graduation his mum came up to me and gave me this big hug and said ‘we made it’. It was just this lovely moment of knowing that I was working in partnership with his family to help him make it through school.”

Now, in his role as Field Development Manager, being able to support the work of school chaplaincy means the world to Chris.

“I think if chaplaincy wasn’t around, so many needs in school communities outside the classroom wouldn’t be filled,” Chris says.

“Kids, parents and teachers need someone they can go to and talk about some of the things they’re going through – it’s really important that they have someone who can help them debrief and process those things.”

Chris says while chaplaincy may not be for everyone, it can be an incredibly rewarding role.

“If you want to be a chappy you have to be able to put other people first,” Chris says.

“There’s a lot of skill sets that chaplains are asked to do, from organising events to running small groups to supporting kids and adults one-on-one.

“Most people have skills in one or two of those areas, so making sure your motivation is right will make sure you can learn the skills you need to be the best chappy you can be.”

If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands 

Posted: 23/05/2020

Lauren’s gifts from the heart

Through your support school communities across Queensland are being blessed by the everyday actions of their school chaplains. But as Chappy Carol from Vienna Woods State School can attest…

Through your support school communities across Queensland are being blessed by the everyday actions of their school chaplains.

But as Chappy Carol from Vienna Woods State School can attest to, the blessings often flow both ways.

When she first met a big-hearted young girl named Lauren, she was moved by her compassion for those in need. What followed has been a partnership that continues to bless and impact her local community.

Since she was in prep, Lauren has given away her birthday presents to those in need.

This selfless act started after the Queensland floods, when Lauren saw the devastation that affected other kids in her class. The following year, six year old Lauren and her mum, Deb, contacted a chaplain through the Radio Station 96.5, and gave gifts to a little girl whose house burnt down.

On the invitation to her birthday parties, Lauren writes specific details of someone in need and the people at her party bring gifts to be passed on anonymously.

Over the last eight years, Lauren has helped a man suffering from cancer, a lonely teenage girl and a family who lost their mum. 

“I know that money can’t buy happiness, but it can make a difference when it makes people feel special,” Lauren says.

Since she was in prep, Lauren has been giving away her birthday presents to those in need.

The process of selecting a special ‘someone’ each year, led to partnering with local chaplains who are the heartbeat of their communities, explains Deb, who also volunteers with the Local Chaplaincy Committee.

“Chaplains know that perfect person who needs a little bit of encouragement,” Deb says.

“Over the years they’ve played a really important role for Lauren, because they’ve been our gift registry!

“It’s a very joyful journey. I get a warm-fuzzy smile thinking about it.”

Chappy Carol says the partnership between chaplaincy and families is incredibly important.

“This family, everything they do is about giving. Lauren is very generous and her mum, Deb is always thinking of ways to bless others. As a chaplain, I get the best job of sharing the love around,” Chappy Carol says.

Lauren has started a beautiful tradition of generosity that will last for many years to come.

Your support helps make partnerships like Lauren and Chappy Carol’s possible. Please help keep this going. Visit suqld.org.au/donate.

Posted: 2/12/2019

When floodwaters subsided, your support saw them through

When her high school students were being evacuated from their homes in the dead of night, with rain pouring so hard it was deafening, William Ross State High School…

When her high school students were being evacuated from their homes in the dead of night, with rain pouring so hard it was deafening, William Ross State High School chaplain, Kay, was there to support them in any way she could.

The February floods tore through the Townsville high school community, destroying everything in its path – carpets, furniture, resources. Some staff lost everything.

William Ross State High School principal, Allan Evans, who steered the school community through the flood disaster, said one teacher was lucky to escape with her life.

“[The teacher’s] fiance was shifting the vehicle up the road to get out of the water and when they walked out again the water was chest-deep. The guys in the boat said ‘dump the lot or die’, so they got in the boat and that’s what they left with,” he says.

Chappy Kay recalls that many students feared for their lives too.

“I was talking to some kids and they said they were taken out in great big army trucks, and there was a cover over the top but because the rain was so heavy, there was a foot-and-a-half of water inside the truck,” she says.

“They couldn’t see anything, and every time the truck lurched, the parents were grabbing their kids because there was so much water, and they didn’t want them to drown inside the truck.”

In the light of day, the devastation became heartbreakingly clear. Many of the buildings at nearby Oonoonba State School had to be completely gutted and rebuilt.

Mr Evans found himself adopting 350 year 3-6 students on the high school campus for Term 1 after quickly offering his support.

“We were given 12 hours to completely revamp the school. We were a little protective of the younger students,” Mr Evans says.

Even after the floodwaters began to subside, it was clear that the full impact was still being felt. Mr Evans recalls that many of the students would panic whenever it would start to rain again. “Every time it rained, it was like they were re-traumatised,” he says.

But he was full of praise for Chappy Kay and the school’s other support staff.

“The support staff are the pivotal edge of any change. Kay is one of five support staff and each brings that element of support and that’s critical,” he said.

“The day-to-day business, the staff have got the ammunition to deal with it. But when you’ve got the blow-ups, a teacher can’t handle that because they’ve
got 20 other kids – that’s when you call for Chappy.”

Chappy Kay was there to support her traumatised school community because of your support. Help keep this support going, visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 10/10/2019

Backpacker’s journey becomes a life of service

When Julia Creek State School chaplain Angelina was feeling lost and hopeless as a teenager in her native Germany, she met a shepherd – well, a teacher whose surname…

When Julia Creek State School chaplain Angelina was feeling lost and hopeless as a teenager in her native Germany, she met a shepherd – well, a teacher whose surname meant ‘shepherd’.

After her parents’ divorce, Angelina was searching for help to navigate her feelings of confusion and rejection. (more…)

Posted: 11/04/2019

You’re changing lives through SMASH Camp

When a young person experiences God’s love and hope on camp, it’s always an incredible thing. But when they turn their experience into a wellspring of life for the…

When a young person experiences God’s love and hope on camp, it’s always an incredible thing.

But when they turn their experience into a wellspring of life for the next generation – that’s truly remarkable.

SMASH is an SU QLD cluster camp for high school students in Brisbane’s North West. From dance parties and live music, to tubing and giant water slides, the week has heaps of fun activities for campers to enjoy.

Sam Green has directed SMASH Camp for the past eight years, and in that time more than a thousand campers have enjoyed a fun-filled week of community, conversation and spiritual input.

But Sam’s story with SMASH goes back to his first camp when he was just 15 years old, where he first heard of and experienced God’s love.

“I heard about SMASH Camp in Grade 10,” Sam recalls.

“My friends had gone the year before and had come back raving about how much they loved it. The next year I came along.

“I just remember feeling – as soon as I got there – the energy and atmosphere and environment. It was super caring and loving, and it was pretty easy to settle into that straight away.”

Sam had been on school camps before, but SMASH was very different.


SMASH Camp is helping change young lives for the better.

“Having so many leaders giving up their time to care for me – that was so different in itself,” Sam says.

“I’d also never experienced a Christian camp before. But there’s no doubting my spiritual experience on SMASH was a positive one, which had a significant impact on my life. I became a Christian when I was in Grade 12, between camps.”

SMASH not only impacted Sam’s faith journey but also his personal life, so when the opportunity came for him to become a leader on camp, he was keen.

Fast forward a couple of years and Sam was heading up the directing team.

“In 2018 we focused on how Jesus is the light of the world, and how regardless of where the kids are at in their lives outside of camp, there is always hope.

“As leaders, we have found our hope in Jesus, and being able to share His life-transforming message was incredible.”

After eight years of directing SMASH Camp, Sam will now pass the reins to the next generation of leadership.

“I know SMASH is in good hands and I’m excited to see where the new directors take it,” Sam says.

“They know that SMASH is SMASH because of the God we serve. So it’s exciting to see how they bring their gifts and talents into that space to glorify God.” If you’re interested in leading or attending an SU QLD cluster camp in your area, contact SU QLD Camps on (07) 3112 6583 or email the team at info@sucamps.org.au

Posted: 17/01/2019

Chappy on cloud 9 after surprise Air Cadet award

There is more to school chaplains than high fives, games of handball, running programs and connecting with children and young people. Sometimes they win awards for being amazing in…

There is more to school chaplains than high fives, games of handball, running programs and connecting with children and young people. Sometimes they win awards for being amazing in other ways.

Nambour State College Chaplain, Ryan Lowes, was recently awarded Airman of the Year for 2WG Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC).

The award left the chappy veteran speechless.

(more…)

Posted: 19/09/2018

Chappies make a school a better place

It’s Chappy Week, and while we could talk for hours about how wonderful and amazing our chaplains are, it’s even more special when that high praise comes from other…

It’s Chappy Week, and while we could talk for hours about how wonderful and amazing our chaplains are, it’s even more special when that high praise comes from other Queensland state school support staff.

(more…)

Posted: 18/05/2018

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