Posted in Chaplaincy
While Australia has done really well navigating the twists and turns of COVID, the pandemic has affected everyone in some way – even those in our remote communities.
For a small town in the Isaac Region, the uncertainty of the climate led to destructive behaviour inside and outside of the classroom. Thankfully it was nipped in the bud, but the unexpected response from our young people made Chappy Helen’s school community realise they needed external help.
By partnering with local church leaders and the police force to come up with an action plan, Chappy Helen acted as the bridge between these community organisations.
A school chaplain does more than just care for the needs of our young people (although they do a wonderful job at this!) Particularly in remote regions, chaplains are viewed as a central pillar in the community.
“We held a meeting with the local pastor, the police sergeant and the Principal, and all together we talked about how we were going to deal with the behavioural issues from our young people,” says Chappy Helen.
“We knew we needed external help, and decided to put self-worth programs in place.”
Pastor Allan has been working in pastoral care positions for nearly two decades, and knows that unruly behavior from young people stems from a whole range of factors.
“Since COVID, alcohol consumption in our region has tripled and it hasn’t gone down. This translates to every area and we’re seeing broken marriages and a high percentage of underage drinking,” says Pastor Allan.
“Our community has really come together to ask the question, ‘How can we support our young people here?’ It’s not that we’re dealing with ‘naughty kids’ but it’s young people who don’t have worth in themselves.”
“We’ve been running programs about building character and instilling respect in themselves and others. Chappy Helen has been leading the girls, and the police sergeant and I have been working with the boys.”
Over the past few months, there’s already been a big difference in attitudes. There’s hope that by working together and having honest conversations, this rural community will be able to restore some of their lost innocence.
“These programs instill our young people with a sense of respect in themselves and in others,” says Chappy Helen.
“Having the local church and police support is huge. It’s made such a big difference.”
School chaplaincy is only made possible through partnership. Across the country, SU is incredibly grateful to work with a whole range of churches and community volunteers who have the best interest of our young people at heart, and are committed to seeing communities healthy and flourishing.
If you want to support this valuable work, head to suqld.org.au/donate.