16 February 2015

Chaplaincy – a dream come true

Posted in Chaplaincy / Our heritage

There are key characters in all great stories. And Keith Drinkall is just one character who authored the first chapter in the story of chaplaincy.

Keith’s life was altered when a shocking event occurred that would change his life and the course of SU QLD…

“A young man from our church was killed in an accident. As a teacher, it made me think of my students and if they were to lose their lives prematurely,” says Keith.

At that moment, Keith decided he wanted to do anything he could to make a lasting difference in young people’s lives. “A week later I received a call from Jim Rawson (former CEO) offering a position in schools work.

Keith with Jim Rawson(Keith Drinkall with former CEO Jim Rawson)

“I decided to move from teaching to join the SU QLD ISCF (Inter-School Christian Fellowship) field in 1974. Over 19 years I was an ISCF staff member, ISCF coordinator and SU QLD Deputy Director under Jim,” he says. “I had a dream to do Christian work in high schools. I was given a month to explore if this was possible.”

With the Queensland Education Department’s approval, the program ‘Christian Option’ began in 36 schools.

“It became obvious, that with more than 160 Queensland high schools at the time, we would need more people and funds,” he says. “We received a large cheque from a local church involved in the program with a note saying ‘put chaplains in schools’. That was 27 years ago. I went to the department and asked if they would allow chaplains to operate in schools. We were approved, and in my time, we placed the first chaplains in 12 schools.”

SU Staff Conference-Keith(Keith Drinkall, back row center, at an SU QLD Staff Conference)

Keith says SU QLD’s chaplaincy program is as relevant to today’s young people as it was when it began, but the program has evolved to meet the changing needs of children and young people.

“Chaplaincy is a wonderful gift of God to Queensland students and school staff. It is very encouraging to see the level of acceptance and support chaplaincy has gained and to hear the incredible stories of positive impact that it makes in school communities. 25 years is a remarkable milestone, and we pray for even greater things in the years ahead,” says Keith.

Whether you have only recently joined the SU QLD family or have been with us for the full 25 years of chaplaincy, your contribution will shape the next 25 years and beyond.

Thank you!



  1. Pretty good memories of ISCF at Harristown State High School, Toowoomba 1972 – 1974. Ann Presland was a French and German teacher and was leader of our group. Went to the Boys Agricultural Camp at Drillham in 1973, heard about that via ISCF.
    I met Keith some years later (1980?) I remember he had a crusher handshake.

  2. I became a Christian as a result of a SU Beach Mission in 1971 led by Keith Drinkall. Later I became a youth worker, youth pastor, pastor etc in a charismatic denomination. I thank God for SU and Keith and others involved.

  3. Hi, my name is Michelle Daniell (nee Salm) and I was one of the early full time chaplains appointed to Mitchelton high school in Brisbane in 1990. I held this position till Easter 1991 when I got married to my wonderful husband of near 24 years. High school chaplaincy was one of the highlights of my life and as you can see I am a strong supporter still if not financially, prayerfully. I applaud your ongoing fruitful work. Highest regards, Michelle Daniell (salm).

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is wonderful to hear from one of our first chaplains and we are so glad you are still connected with us to this day. Thank you for all the support you have shown us and keep showing us over the years. God bless you Michelle.

      SU QLD.

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