SU Chaplains are called to serve in many places of need, from primary and high schools to special schools, hospitals and even a University
Thanks to the support of friends like you, Chappy Josh is now supporting students at a boarding facility set up by the National Rugby League’s North Queensland Cowboys, through the Cowboys Community Foundation.
NRL Cowboys House provides safe, supported accommodation for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote communities, enabling them to access quality secondary education opportunities in Townsville.
For Josh, who is also Indigenous, it marks a return to chaplaincy, having previously served from 2007 to 2017. Late last year, Josh felt God was calling him back.
“I saw a real need in Townsville. There’s a crisis happening up here with the young people in our community, and I felt a tug from God to get back into this work again,” Josh says.
At NRL Cowboys House, Josh supports students facing the challenges of homesickness, while also providing life coaching and spiritual guidance.
“Spirituality is the number one thing I talk to kids about at the House,” Josh says.
“Indigenous young people are more open to understanding there is a spiritual world. Culturally, and in their family cultures, spirituality is very real. They come to me with questions and issues. I encourage and help them understand the issues they are facing.”
Josh runs a range of initiatives to support his students’ mental and spiritual wellbeing, including the ‘Ice Cream Program’.
“I take 2-4 boys down to get ice cream. We chat along the way and talk about some really important stuff,” Josh says.
“One time I was talking to some young guys about focusing on setting their lives up well. A lot of Indigenous young people start families at a very young age, which can cause problems for them later in life.
“Just encouraging them to focus on setting themselves up well for a good career, and not jumping into relationships too quickly, it’s often a lot better for them – and helps them provide well for their families in the future.”
Leigh Allender, Director of Boarding at NRL Cowboys House, values the vital role Josh plays.
“Josh works closely with our psychologists and wellbeing team – he’s built some really strong relationships with the students,” Leigh says.
“He’s a big part of our social and emotional wellbeing program for Year 7 and 8 students, and he organises music lessons for some of the students who are not as sport-inclined as their peers. Since his arrival he’s made a real difference.
“We work to provide a full holistic support service to our students, and Josh is a key part of that.”
Thank you for supporting the spiritual wellbeing of our young people in schools and communities throughout Queensland. You are a blessing! To keep this work going, visit suqld.org.au/donate