Posted in Chaplaincy
An ongoing shortage of chaplains in remote and regional communities means thousands of young Queenslanders are stranded without the vital support of a school chaplain.
Dedicated mother of 10, Desley Kerr is doing her part to fill this void, serving in two primary schools in the mining community of Moranbah in Central Queensland.
“We haven’t had a chaplain in the primary schools until the last term of 2015. So this was something that I thought, I’m interested in and it’s something I can do,” Desley recalls.
No stranger to the schoolyard, the former high school maths and science teacher answered the call to become a chaplain after more than 10 years playing an active role in her Local Chaplaincy Committee.
“Being involved in the committee, I’ve always thought it was something that I felt I could do. I love working with kids and I love letting them know that they’re special.
“They are all so wonderful, each in their own right. Some of them don’t know that. So I love being able to cherish them in some way,” she says.
It’s a message that all children need to hear. But it is in places like Moranbah, that the message is all the more important.
The small mining town hosts a population of just over 8,000, most of who have not grown up in the region, but have moved for employment opportunities.
“It’s a very mobile town. It’s only been there for a little over 40 years. There are very few extended families. So not everyone has friends or relations they can turn to.
“This impacts on the children too. School friends may be all you have. If you don’t have school friends, then you can be very much on the outer,” Desley explains.
“In our community we have the issue of fly-in/fly-out, drive-in/drive-out jobs. So we have families who are split by distance. We have a large nanny and au pair service in town. We also have large childcare centres that go all day because mum and dad are both working,” she says.
As such, it can be a lonely place for children.
“Sometimes they just need someone to talk to, someone they can share their stories with,” Desley says.
It’s a role that is urgently needed in regional and remote communities across the state.
“In the school you can be that listening ear, where a teacher may not be able to. I’m from a teaching family, so I know how much work teachers have on their plate. As much as they try, they can’t spend as much time as they would like with individual students.
“Whereas, we [as chaplains] can say, ‘this is the child I’m working with for this next hour. We don’t have to do anything else. I’m here for you,’ ” she says.
SU QLD’s goal is to ensure that school chaplains are accessible to all students whether they need a listening ear or someone to assure them of their value and worth.
If you would like to help us meet that goal, enquire about our chaplaincy vacancies today on 07 3112 6073, or visit suqld.org.au/morehands