READY TO HELP: Chaplain Anne Bonner at Stanthorpe State High School.
READY TO HELP: Chaplain Anne Bonner at Stanthorpe State High School. Kim Micke

No agenda, but honest support

MANY of us might have thought chaplaincy was a religious service.

Our five local chaplains do provide social, emotional and spiritual support to local students - but they do not push a religious agenda.

Granite Belt Chaplaincy chairman Pastor Jeremy Greening said there was some confusion around the term chaplaincy.

"There is some confusion from some people, they think that... they're pushing a Christian agenda,” Pastor Greening said.

"But that's not the case because you're not allowed to in Australian schools.

"You are not allowed to present a certain religious framework as an agenda. Whether they're Christian, Muslim, Buddhists - it doesn't matter. They'll (the chaplains) give the same service to no matter what faith.”

Local chaplain Anne Bonner said her main role was to enhance a school's overall well-being strategy and contribute to the school's educational goals.

"School chaplaincy is a voluntary service and is available to everyone in the school community and students, staff and families can access chaplaincy services,” she said.

"As a chaplain, I complement other school support services by responding to day-to-day issues that students face across a broad range of personal, family, friendship and school issues.”

Ms Bonner has been a chappie for almost seven years, currently working at Stanthorpe State High School, Amiens and Greenlands State School.

"I love the opportunity to engage with students in a meaningful way through pastoral conversations, to build relationships and to support students to reach their full potential,” she said.

"As a chaplain, I support students and families with a range of issues including grief and loss, family breakdown, mental health concerns, school behaviour, and friendship and peer issues. It is a privilege and an honour to be invited into the world of the young people I work with.”

Ms Bonner said chappies also provided mentoring and role modelling, educational support, participated in extra-curricular activities, community development and team contribution.

"Chaplains also run personal development and resilience programs,” she said.

"Students appreciate having a safe, supportive adult in their school to connect with, who is available to support them through whatever personal issues they may be facing.

"Students in my schools are overwhelmingly supportive of their chappie and my days are full with one-on-one pastoral conversations.”

To help the chaplains keep up the good work, you can purchase Granite Belt Chaplaincy Apple Juice from CRT, attend one of their many fundraising events or make a donation. Phone Pastor Greening on 0402283363 for information.

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