Schoolies as a ‘Rite of Passage’

In November 2000 I graduated from high school. At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as…

In November 2000 I graduated from high school.

At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as you moved into adult life.

For me, that experience was a big moment I’ll always remember. A point of transition – a rite of passage.

Fast forward 20 years and our 2020 high school graduates are facing a very different rite of passage.

COVID-19 has limited numbers for events and gatherings, and is already influencing end-of-school processions with bans now in place for the traditional mass schoolies events on the Gold Coast.

While some think that Gold Coast schoolies events are a horrible ‘rite of passage’ for our high school graduates, the fact is that schoolies options available to previous cohorts have been taken away from the class of 2020. What will this mean?

Rites of passage have changed through the generations – but all support the same general premise: an event or ceremony to mark an important transition in someone’s life.

For Gen X and Gen Y some rites of passage included owning a first car, leaving home and getting your first job. For Gen Z and Millenials, who are staying home longer and studying/working simultaneously, there are fewer points that we can label as ‘rites of passage’.

This makes the milestone of finishing school an even more important marker for this generation.

If you’re a parent or mentor of someone finishing high school this year, here are some things I think are really important to keep in mind.

1. Talk talk talk!

Talk about the year – and ask them what are some of the symbolic markers they feel they have missed out on because of COVID-19. What are some creative ways they can experience these?

2. Help them to share their feelings

It’s okay to be disappointed – but allowing feelings to stay bottled up can have really negative consequences. Encouraging your teen to share what they are going through is vital to help them have a positive experience as they approach this key transition in life.

3. Celebrate with them!

Celebrate the successes of this year, and of the last few months of their schooling journey. Focus on the ‘lasts’ – celebrate when they finish their final assignment, final exam, etc. Help them plan a safe schoolies celebration with the friends they have valued through their schooling journey.

Regardless of the changes COVID-19 has had on our society, helping our Year 12 students to find positivity in the midst of all the things they have missed out on is key. Let’s give them the joy-filled rite of passage they deserve!

The good news for SU-Schoolies Sunny Coast is we have a COVID Safe Plan for our event, which we’ve developed in conjunction with Alex Park Conference Centre. This will allow us to proceed under the appropriate Industry Action Plan.

While this plan includes a cap on participants and restrictions on some activities, rest assured we are putting together a program that will allow you to still have the time of your life as you celebrate finishing your 12 years of schooling with your peers.

www.su-schoolies.com

 

About the author…

Beavs is a former High School Maths and Christian Education Teacher who has been working and volunteering with SU QLD Camps for almost 20 years. As Camps Specialist he supports volunteers and chaplains run camps and community outreach events throughout Queensland, reaching over 4500 young people. Beavs is married with 3 children, and loves coffee and watching sport.

Posted: 16/09/2020

How can we safely talk to young people about ‘that’ Tik Tok video?

Weeks like this one remind us why awareness campaigns like R U OK Day are important. Again, we have been reminded of the tragedy of suicide and how its…

Weeks like this one remind us why awareness campaigns like R U OK Day are important. Again, we have been reminded of the tragedy of suicide and how its impact reaches far beyond its victims.

The media’s coverage of the viral TikTok video has left many parents concerned about their children’s exposure to traumatic content online.

There are many questions to be answered and a lot of avenues of support. Here are some answers and helpful resources if you are trying to work out how to talk to your child about traumatic online content.

Should I ask my child if they’ve seen the video?

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant advises against drawing young people’s attention to the issue. If your child has not seen the video, raising the topic could cause unnecessary worry, distress or increase their curiosity about the video. Instead, monitor your child’s demeanour and behaviour for any changes, particularly those who may be considered more vulnerable or at risk. If you want to talk about it, raise the conversation generally, asking about both their online or offline activities. Parents should keep an open dialogue with their children about their online activity.

How do I talk to someone about their mental health?

If you are concerned that your child or loved one is thinking about suicide or has been triggered by online content, have a conversation. Most people are scared that they will say the wrong thing and make it worse, so they avoid the conversation. This is not true. Initiating the conversation will allow the person an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings and ask for support. For more specific guidance on how to conduct a conversation about mental health and suicide, follow the links below.

R U OK: How to ask guide

Suicide First Aid Guidelines (MHFA)

ChatSafe: Talking safely about suicide online

Parent TV: How to talk to your child about suicide

How can I comfort my child who is upset by the video?

A young person may be significantly upset by what they have been exposed to online. It is not possible to unsee what we are exposed to. So how can we help alleviate their distress?

1. Express care. Reassure your child they are loved, valued and safe.

2. Normalise feelings. It’s natural to want to get rid of unpleasant feelings. We often say things like; “It’s okay, don’t be sad” or “chin up”. However, our emotions are signals to our minds and bodies that tell us something. It is normal to emotionally respond to inappropriate content online. Having a “yucky” feeling tells us that what we saw was not okay. It’s not about getting rid of the “yuck” feeling but working out what we should do when we experience that feeling.

3. Encourage positive activity. This is a good time to take a break from the online world. Suggest an ‘offline break’ to do something that will make your child feel better, taking a walk, playing with the dog, doing some art or cooking a meal, the options are endless.

4. Invite further conversation. Keep the communication channels open, allowing your child an opportunity to keep talking, if it’s helpful.

5. Keep an eye out. As mentioned above, monitor your child’s ongoing behaviour and demeanour, if you notice a persistent change, follow it up.

How can I protect my child from harmful images, videos and online commentary?

The internet is a big place full of wonderful and horrible things. Trying to eliminate the bad content is like a game of whack-a-mole; just when you hit one on the head three more pop up. Understandably, parents often feel helpless when it comes to managing their children’s activity online. But, there are a number of great organisations that are empowering parents to keep their kids safe online. The eSafety Commission is my first port of call when I want information about internet safety for young people. Parental controls might be an option for your family, restricting certain content and websites while keeping parents up to date on their child’s online activity. The Communications Alliance LTD has a list of reputable products on the market. The Australian Council for Children and Media helps parents determine what will be appropriate content/platforms for their child.

Should I ban my child from social media?

It may be helpful to keep your child away from social media for a time, to allow the platforms opportunity to remove the explicit content, but also to give your child a break to positively work on their mental health. However, for many young people around the world, social media is a vital connection to their network of friends. Perhaps less of an “All or Nothing” approach and more of a healthy balance is needed. The eSafety Commission has loads of excellent information for young people regarding healthy use of social media. As a parent you know your child best and should feel empowered to make decisions for the wellbeing of your child.

What should I teach my children to do about traumatic content online?

We cannot avoid or block every piece of inappropriate content online; our power lies within our response to these images, videos and commentary. Here are some steps to respond to traumatic material.

1. Close the video/image. Just because you started the video doesn’t mean you have to finish it. If your feelings are telling you something is wrong – get out. Don’t share/repost it.

2. Report the content. All social media platforms have a reporting function, use it. The eSafety Commission also has a reporting page where you can make official complaints about online content. You can also call the police on 000.

3. Tell a trusted adult. It’s important your child shares any inappropriate online activity with a trusted adult (parent, school teacher/support worker). This will ensure they receive the support they need, and the problem is dealt with properly. They should know that they won’t get into trouble for telling someone about what they experienced.

4. Unfriend/Block. Children should never connect online with people they don’t know. However, sometimes even known friends can share and upload inappropriate content. It is okay to unfriend or block someone who is willfully sharing harmful material.

If you require extra support, please don’t hesitate to talk to someone about it. R U OK is as much a question for us as it is for our young people.

Call:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Click here for other support agency details

About the author…

Tess is a former school chaplain and youth pastor with 15 years of experience in youth work. She now serves as SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team Leader, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. She holds a bachelor of communications and diploma of youth work.

 

Posted: 10/09/2020

What Father’s Day means to me (a dad’s perspective)

I’m the father of two sons – 14 and 11 years old. I love being a father. It’s one of the most important parts of who I am these…

I’m the father of two sons – 14 and 11 years old. I love being a father. It’s one of the most important parts of who I am these days. Of course, I wasn’t always a father. I’ve been one for less than a third of my life.

With Father’s Day coming up, I’ve been reflecting on some of my fathering influences and how they impact my own fathering today. Special days like Father’s Day provide good opportunities for such things.

Firstly, I had a good father, which is a great start. They say that some good traits in life are “caught not taught” and that rings true when I think of what I learned about living well from my dad. It was less about what he tried to teach us and more about how he moved through the world. He was a strong, calm, and warm presence in our home. He gave little unsolicited advice and when he did speak into our lives, we were ready to listen.

He gave us plenty of space to make our own decisions, which included making our own mistakes. I see a lot of him unconsciously expressed through what I do with my kids now.
Alongside my dad, I also had a bunch of other father figures who I “caught” positive traits off.

As good as my own dad was, he couldn’t be everything to me by way of an example of good manhood or good fathering. No-one can be expected to provide that all themselves. The other good blokes in my life included – Sunday School teachers, camp leaders, youth group leaders, teachers, coaches, mentors etc… These father figures all brought something positive into the mix of my life, and I count myself lucky to have had their guidance through my formative times. I recognise some of these influences in my fathering, and I want to give my boys opportunities to have these kinds of positive influences in their lives.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is keep my eyes and ears open to various conversations around what good fathering might look like these days. I like the more traditional idea of being a good provider, but I’ve also appreciated the movement towards being more hands-on around the family home and in the lives of our children. I do the morning shift in our house, making breakfasts and lunches while the boys get ready for their day. Nothing too deep and meaningful – just good, incidental hang-out time. And across the week, we’ll talk, run, check homework, do chores, shoot hoops, watch shows and eat pies (when mum’s not looking). These times are some of the highlights of my week, and I think they’re good for all of us.

The research into good fathering strongly suggests to me that I’ve been on a good wicket when it comes to fathering influences: a good father, good father figures and access to positive fathering information that has shaped what I do (Fathering Project, 2013). Really, with all that going for me, I haven’t got much of an excuse…

My deep hope is that my boys will look back on what they got from myself and others and value it as I value what I have received from my dad, and the other good blokes in my life. I guess the point is to pass it all forward. I hear people say that one of the reasons we’re blessed is to be a blessing to others. With Father’s Day coming up, that makes as much sense to me as it ever has.

 

About the author…

Steve has over 30 years experience in school, community and church-based youth work. He is currently working as the Training & Development Manager at SU QLD, overseeing teams that deliver training and produce resources for SU QLD staff and volunteers. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Social Work, Politics & Government, and Christian Studies.

 

 

 

How Fathers and Father Figures Can Shape Child Health and Wellbeing (2013) – https://thefatheringproject.org/fpwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/New-Fathering-Research.pdf

Posted: 3/09/2020

Why Can’t Turtles Sing? Using Questions to Grow Kids

Kids under school age ask as many as 200-300 questions per day*. Young children live a life filled with a level of curiosity that appears to evaporate as they…

Kids under school age ask as many as 200-300 questions per day*. Young children live a life filled with a level of curiosity that appears to evaporate as they mature.

Answering questions is a vital part of parenting.

Asking questions is an equally important element of parenting and a tool that stimulates connection, confidence and critical thinking in our kids – in addition to nurturing curiosity.

Here are a few reasons why I believe questions are such a powerful part of parenting.

 

1. Our questions encourage connection

What do our young people think about current events? What are their hopes, fears and questions? What would they ask God in a face-to-face meeting? Well-formed questions can deepen family connection. At the dinner table, give someone the opportunity to ask a question of everybody else, use purchased conversation cards, or make your own (there are plenty of online resources.) Communicate, “I hear you,” as you attentively listen to each other.

One idea you can do is play ‘Question Ping-Pong’ in the car or on a walk.

The rules are simple – Two people take turns asking each other questions. No butting in, and a valid answer to any question may simply be, “I would like another question please.”

Genuine questions and deep listening connect people.

 

2. Our questions can arouse curiosity

For a time, I had the privilege of regular nursing home visits with some twelve-year-olds. Each week, question cards facilitated conversation and storytelling.

Thelma was an elderly resident who had undergone the amputation of both legs. While initially, the kids were cautious to speak with her, affection towards Thelma quickly developed.

As part of a post-visit conversation a few weeks in, one of the girls stated, “Once you get to know Thelma, you forget what she looks like because she is so lovely.”

My heart soared.

Genuine curiosity followed by engagement had dissolved the fear of difference and enabled beautiful, mutual connection.

Will Wise in the book Ask Powerful Questions claims there is a “national curiosity deficit that fuels division, separation and prevents us from building trusting, healthy connections.”

Can we wonder with our kids about people, their stories and what lies beneath the visible? Can we model and promote openness, humility and genuine curiosity?

 

3. Our questions can inspire confidence

“How did school go today?” was my query one time as I ‘ubered’ my daughter from school to netball. Her response gripped my parent-heart.

“Imogen and Mia wouldn’t let me play with them today. Nobody likes me.”

I want to side with my daughter and tell those so-called friends what I think of them. I wish I could rescue her from the pain of rejection and yet, as I respond, can I consider the long term?

I need to breathe, empathise, and later ask questions that empower rather than reinforce a victim mentality.

Questions that encourage problem solving communicate, “I believe you’ve got this.” What would you like to see happen? How could you approach this? How can I support you with your plan?

And as a check-in after the next day, “How did you go?” rather than a problem-centred, “Did they exclude you again?”

Maybe in the future, that solution-focused thinking will transfer to confidence in facing the challenges of adulthood.

 

4. Our questions can promote critical thinking

“I don’t believe in God,” “I don’t want to go to church,” (or some other statement of objection to a deeply valued belief), can hook our parent-hearts into reacting rather than responding.

Once again, well thought through questions and appropriate timing may just be the parenting tool we need. If we can still our beating hearts long enough to listen without defensiveness to this exploration of personal values, we might ask, “What led you to that conclusion?” “What have you seen, experienced or read that makes you think that?”

Once again, with the long- term view in mind, a parent who can facilitate this questioning with openness, can encourage their young person to deeply consider their own worldview rather than overreact to a reacting parent.

Attentive listening could provide an opening to be heard at some point and an apology for reacting, a reset and another conversation opportunity.

 

So why can’t a turtle sing?

Have you ever considered that maybe they can sing and the real question is “Why can’t we hear them?”

Many of life’s big questions, including those about current world events, will never have easy answers. Maybe together with our kids, we could consider alternate questions.

Intentionally using purposeful questions as a parenting tool could serve to deepen our family connections, in addition to developing the capacity for curiosity, compassion, confidence and critical thinking.

 

About the Author…

Andrea is a former secondary school teacher and counsellor. She has worked as a school chaplain for over 19 years and now also serves part-time on SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. Andrea and her husband are parents to three adult children and grandparents to two.

 

*Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question

Posted: 27/08/2020

Lessons from a COVID wedding

In addition to lockdowns, panic buying, border closures and everything else COVID has thrust onto our society, it’s also threatened many of our special occasions we may have once…

In addition to lockdowns, panic buying, border closures and everything else COVID has thrust onto our society, it’s also threatened many of our special occasions we may have once taken for granted.

From mourning the loss of a loved one, to celebrating the big milestones in life – births, birthdays and graduations – COVID has seemingly left no stone unturned. In my case, it was my wedding.

Planning a wedding is never easy. Planning a wedding during COVID is an emotional rollercoaster with no promise of when or how it will end.

With restrictions constantly changing, we were constantly adjusting and sacrificing for what was supposed to be one of the most amazing days of our lives. We reduced our guest list, cancelled our reception and honeymoon, and moved our wedding date forward.

We had everything planned in March for our April wedding. We’d accepted it would be smaller than we’d hope for. With restrictions getting tighter, we cancelled our April wedding and moved the date forward to the closest weekend.

Everything was locked in for the coming Saturday – just four days away. Within a few hours, restrictions for weddings were reduced from 100 people to just five. We were no longer able to even have both sets of parents there. So again, we cancelled.

This was the part of the roller coaster ride where you’re tempted to just get off. I give up COVID – you win.

We had no control over when we could start planning and rescheduling our wedding and when we could finally start our lives together. Instead of getting off the roller coaster, we stayed the course and set a new date for October.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. The news had just broken of a possible outbreak in Queensland. Once again our plans were in jeopardy.

We didn’t want to make the same mistake again and decided to get married in a week’s time. Last Saturday, we got married!! 3rd time lucky!!

Here are 4 things I learned organising a wedding during COVID.

1. Take control in a world of uncertainty
There are so many things we cannot control – even more so during a global pandemic. Instead of waiting, we took control and got married while we still could.

2. Importance of family and friends
It’s incredible to reflect on the amazing family, friends and church community you have in your life. We could not have organised a wedding in one week without everyone banding together. The community of friends and family around you are so important.

3. Celebrate in hard times
In times of struggle and suffering, it’s important to still focus on celebrating the good things in life – like a wedding. The response from our guests and from the public when they saw me wearing my dress was wonderful. “It’s so lovely to see something good happening in this time of suffering” and “Exactly what I wanted to see in such a sad time,” were just a few of the comments we heard.

4. The importance of marriage over wedding
COVID has helped changed my perspective on what’s important to have in your wedding, such as the vows we made to each other before God, and the presence of our close family and friends. We didn’t need the most expensive wedding, the perfect decorations, or the biggest party. We are thankful for the small but important things. We still had our wedding ceremony with 50 people. We had a wedding cake and celebrated at the end of the day with a BBQ in the backyard. To top it all off, we had our first dance underneath our Hills Hoist covered in lights.

We’ve learned so much from organising a COVID wedding, but I guess the most important lesson of all has been to never taking anything – big or small – for granted. And while at times you may feel that the roller coaster ride you’re on is in control of you, remember God can still control your roller coaster. Just trust Him.

 

About the author…

Jane has been involved with SU Camps and Community Outreaches for 15 years. She has experience as working as a chaplain and has a background in nursing. Jane currently works as the Camp Specialist for SU QLD, overseeing the camps and missions across Queensland.

Posted: 20/08/2020

SU QLD’s new partnership with Coffee Roasters Collective

Coffee Roasters Collective, a Brisbane-based coffee roastery founded in 1999, has been contributing to the coffee culture explosion across Australia for the last two decades. Through a new partnership…

Coffee Roasters Collective, a Brisbane-based coffee roastery founded in 1999, has been contributing to the coffee culture explosion across Australia for the last two decades.

Through a new partnership with SU QLD, the group is now looking to make a positive difference in the lives of young people in communities across Queensland. 

Click here to learn more about this exciting new partnership

Founder, Rob Mergard, has a heart for the next generation, which is why he’s helping in the best way he knows how – combining his passion for helping those in need with his passion for sharing great coffee.

“When I look at the work of SU, which I’ve seen firsthand through my daughter’s involvement with local chappies, it’s something I wanted to get behind,” says Rob.

And Rob’s doing just that. It took four years for this dream to become a reality, but for every 1kg bag of coffee, which is being sold under the Dancing Bean label, 100% of retail margins will go straight to SU QLD.

Customers enjoying their local coffee shop in Ipswich

“The coffee beans will be available to purchase through our retail networks, and we can ship them Australia wide. The label on the bag of coffee will let everyone know that each bag is going towards a good cause,” says Rob.

Every purchase supports the work of SU QLD.

Due to their expertise and dedication to quality products, Coffee Roasters Collective are the perfect partner for this initiative.

“We relocated to Ipswich about 5 years ago, and work out of a heritage building which has been modernised – it’s any coffee roasters dream,” says Rob.

“Our company started 21 years ago under the Dancing Bean brand, and we have been roasting coffee for about 16 years. Our company actually put the first legal coffee cart in Brisbane. We started our customer base by opening coffee carts and small espresso bars, and worked our way up to where we are.”

Behind-the-scenes shots of the roastery

SU QLD Fundraising Manager, Jon Thorne, shares a bit behind this exciting new initiative.

“It has been such a blessing to work with Rob on this. He’s got a great heart for our young people and he makes great coffee. We’re really excited to see the impact that this partnership can have on the ground, where the needs are still very real right across Queensland,” says Jon.

“Coffee is everywhere nowadays, and partnering with Rob means something we do every day now has a bit more purpose by bringing hope to more children and young people.”

 

Click here to purchase your premium quality coffee beans, while making a donation to the work of Scripture Union Queensland!

 

Rob Mergard is the cafe pioneer behind the Coffee Roasters Collective. Rob started life as an engineer – and it was his problem solving mindset and technical flair that saw him redesign coffee roasting in Queensland. Since his humble beginnings in a small cafe set-up, Rob has surrounded himself with coffee experts, master roasters, machinery gurus, specialist baristas and marketing icons who have all helped create, shape and enhance the individual products, services and brands that the Coffee Roasters Collective now takes to market.

Posted: 13/08/2020

Taking a positive approach to parenting (and grandparenting) – by Professor Matt Sanders

There’s one type of family conflict that’s very common, but not often discussed in the media: parents and grandparents disagreeing. Fortunately, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program® can…

There’s one type of family conflict that’s very common, but not often discussed in the media: parents and grandparents disagreeing. Fortunately, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program® can offer some new ways to handle the problem. 

Commonly, conflict between parents and grandparents occurs when: 

  • Grandparents give the child extra treats or toys even when Mum or Dad has said “no”.  They may even feel that it’s their right to do so because day-to-day discipline is no longer their responsibility, and because they’re taking on some care duties. Parents may be surprised – especially comparing what they see now with their own memories of a stricter upbringing. 
  • Grandparents want to pass on their wisdom and experience in the form of frequent suggestions, but this can seem to the parent like constant criticism. Most parents don’t like unsolicited advice and therefore may not respond well.

Parents may feel annoyed and frustrated, or even disrespected, if grandparents don’t agree with their methods of child-rearing. And grandparents may feel upset because they’re just trying to be helpful, and want the best for their family.

It may be a relief to know you’re not the only one dealing with these kinds of problems. And there are ways to bridge some of the communication and expectation gaps, and help bring everyone onto common ground when it comes to managing children’s behaviour.

In a trial of a special Triple P program for grandparents, participants reported lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress, and (not surprisingly) fewer grandchild behaviour problems. Grandparents also said they felt more confident when having conversations about delicate parenting topics with parents, and this resulted in a better relationship with their own (adult) children.  

Adjusting to new roles takes time for everyone. A step in the right direction is to think about all doing a parenting course together, (parents and grandparents), to help everyone to agree on the basic issues. 

The Queensland Government is currently funding free access to Triple P across Queensland. Programs available include one-to-one, group, online and self-help. Check the Triple P parent site for more information: www.triplep-parenting.net 

* Many school chaplains are trained to deliver Triple P in Queensland schools. ISo If this is something you’re interested in, check with your local school chaplain to find out if they are a qualified Triple P trainer. 

Posted: 11/08/2020

Fairness, shame and racism – how Covid-19 fears are stoking a dangerous fire

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger…

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger than mine!” “Why do I have to go to bed earlier than her?” “But I cleaned up after dinner last night!”

As parents we are constantly under pressure to make sure each child is being treated with complete fairness.

Last week we heard the news here in Queensland that three young ladies were found to have caught the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, and then lied about their whereabouts when returning home. Naturally this put the state under great pressure to ensure we didn’t see a surge in the pandemic locally.

Soon after the identity of the girls was released, with their photos and names shown on the frontpage of our state newspaper, under the headline “Enemies of the State”, there was no hiding. They had done wrong and they had put us all at risk.

After the images and names were released, the comments on social media started rolling in thick and fast.

In these extraordinary times, when emotions are high, it was no surprise to see these young women recieve a lot of criticism. Sadly, it was also no surprise that the women, who happened to be of African heritage, started receiving a steady stream of vitriolic comments based on their race, which had nothing to do with their actions.

When I checked in with a Sudanese friend he confirmed that he and others of African heritage were having to cope with hurtful comments, as a result of the actions of these three women. He said “It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.” No it is certainly not fair!

We call it racism, when people are treated unfairly because of their skin colour or background.

One of the rules I have adopted in learning how to engage well with people of a different background, culture or faith than my own is: Do not judge a person by what other people of their faith or community do.

This reminder helps me to look at a person and acknowledge that while they may come from a people group who share some similarities, they are also unique and special, and need to be treated as an individual.

So yes it is right that someone is challenged and held accountable for their actions. This is justice, and if they have done the wrong thing they need to receive the consequences. That is fair.

However it is not fair to then transfer their behaviour onto all other people who look like them. Personally, I do not represent all men, or all Christians, or even all coffee-drinking-Brisbane-dwelling-right-handed-amateur-runner-Christian-men. So I should not need to answer for the actions of another person who shares any of my traits – be they spiritual, physical, cultural or otherwise.

Let us take steps to overcome the temptation to fall into racism or any other -ism that doesn’t see a person for their inherent value as an individual created by a loving God. And let’s help our children do the same.

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.

Posted: 7/08/2020

Mackay kids find their ‘anchor’ in the storm

Day camps are a great way for young people to make new friends, have fun and safely explore questions of faith, meaning and purpose. Each September, 12 chappies and…

Day camps are a great way for young people to make new friends, have fun and safely explore questions of faith, meaning and purpose.

Each September, 12 chappies and some volunteers from North Queensland come together to run the Mackay Holiday Kidz – SU Fun Day Camp – and the kids have a blast!

The camp is held for students in Grades 3 – 9, and is a highlight of the year for many in the community. The students spend their time playing indoor and outdoor games and doing craft activities related to the year’s theme.

Last year, the one-legged and wheelchair races taught the kids about resilience, and they had a great time listening to live music, eating great food, and hearing a Bible story.

The theme changes every year. In 2019 it was “Resilience: Finding Your Anchor in the Storm”, which Camp Director Riki says was inspired by the biblical story of Jesus calming the storm.

Over two days campers – some of whom are home-schooled – develop a real sense of community and fun.

“There are not a lot of holiday camps like this in the Mackay area, and I wanted something fun for the kids to do during the holidays. I really enjoy drama, so we run a Talent Show which is lots of fun,” says Riki.

“In the last three years, we have chosen simple themes with a positive message: things like knowing your gifts and being kind to one another, looking out for one another and resilience.”

“I work with many kids who are in broken or blended homes, so I want to do something that helps build resilience and strength in our young people,” says Riki.

Fletcher, now in Grade 8, has been going to camp every year and loves it.

“Camp is really fun, and you get to make a lot of friends with kids in your area,” says Fletcher.

“My favourite camp theme was the “Resilience” one – I liked it because when we talked about problems we were facing, everyone had a different problem and we were able to talk through it together.”

“The chaplains are really nice. I was talking to one at the last camp who made me feel warm-hearted inside. I like that camp is about doing things all together.”

Fletcher thinks if you live too far away from Mackay to attend the 2020 Fun Day Camp (the theme is “My Family, My Place: Where Do I Belong?”) then other chaplains should run one for the young people in their area. Great idea, Fletcher!

Thanks to your support, young people like Fletcher have found community. To check out our upcoming camps, visit sucamps.org.au.

Posted: 5/08/2020

You helped Steven rise above bullying

School chaplains have more than 143,000 pastoral conversations with students in their school community every year. Tragically, one of the leading reasons why children and young people reach out…

School chaplains have more than 143,000 pastoral conversations with students in their school community every year.

Tragically, one of the leading reasons why children and young people reach out to their chaplains is because of bullying and harassment.

It’s a damning statistic that reveals much about the burden our young people face.

Thanks to your support young people like Steven are discovering they are not what others say about them – rather, they are loved, they are valued, and there is HOPE for their future.

When Chappy Jamie first met Steven in 2017, he was a timid and quiet young man.

“Steven had come from another school where he’d experienced bullying – and things like bullying can leave a child quite reserved,” says Chappy Jamie.

“I remember him being reluctant to participate in things until I ran a social-skills program with a group of boys.

“We worked on things like sharing in front of others, listening to each other’s stories and talking about the highlights of our weeks. Steven completely transformed. He pushed through some big barriers, and this year he’s become the school captain.”

“Watching Steven’s confidence grow to the point of standing in front of an assembly, speaking with boldness and confidence, has been incredible,” says Chappy Jamie.

Steven’s mum, Catherine, is a strong advocate for the difference school chaplaincy makes.

“Steven has had his own journey, and I’ve watched him work through some pretty big things. My mum passed away at the end of 2017, and Chappy Jamie was there for Steven throughout that whole process,” says Catherine.

“As a mum, having a chappy who is reliable, and who I trust, is huge. There are no rule-books for parents, but chaplains are around young people all the time. They have a passion to improve the lives of young people, and so I know I can trust them.”

“I’m a teacher at the school and I’ll often send students to talk with Jamie. You can see a change in them when they return – they come back relaxed and centered. I’ve seen how a simple conversation with a chaplain has changed the path for a child. Jamie gives them a sense of belonging in the school.”

Steven with his mum Catherine

When Steven’s Grandma passed away at the end of 2017, Chappy Jamie was there. It didn’t matter if some days Steven had nothing to say. What mattered is he had a friend who was looking out for his well being.

“Chappy Jamie has helped me. He’s really nice and easy to talk to,” says Steven. “When Grandma was sick, I was feeling sad and didn’t want to do much. Chappy Jamie and I talked together a lot.”

School chaplains have a heart for our young people, and for creating a future that is kinder, more empathetic and built on strong foundations. Chappies like Jamie are in schools because of big-hearted friends like you who are passionate about making a difference.

“School chaplaincy programs give our schools a stronger heartbeat. Thank you Jamie, for helping our hearts feel stronger and giving our whole school a sense of peace within ourselves and our environment,” says Catherine.

Your support ensures that students like Steven have a trusted, trained and caring mentor to help them rise above their struggles and discover the confidence that lies inside them. Visit suqld.org.au/donate today.

Posted: 5/08/2020

What is Family Space?

Family Space is a resource-based website that’s all about nurturing the family unit.

Our mission is to equip, empower and nurture family households and church families across Australia.

Family Space seeks to support children, teenagers, parents and churches through practical resources, activities and expert advice.

We’re all about nurturing healthy families and creating healthy communities.

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