The role of a School Chaplain is to "provide social, emotional and spiritual support to students, parents and/or staff within a school community (Department of Education, Training and Employment, DETE)". The Chaplain's role reflects the specific needs of the school and is consultative in its approach.
What does a School Chaplain do?
As outlined by Scripture Union Queensland, school chaplains work across seven key areas in order to provide the school community with social, emotional and spiritual support. These key areas are:
- Social and/or emotional support — assisting students to develop knowledge, understanding and skills that support learning, positive behaviour and constructive social relationships through social skills programs.
- Spiritual support — providing an additional dimension to the school's care, guidance and support of students with spiritual and/or religious needs.
- Mentoring — acting as a role model for students and assisting in the development of supportive relationships for, with and among students, including mentoring programs.
- Community development — enhancing the links between the school and its community, working with school-based support staff and community-based youth organisations and networks to support students.
- Educational support — assisting with classroom activities (under the direction of a teacher) where involvement by the chaplain/student welfare worker provides further social, emotional or spiritual support for those students who may be at risk of disengagement.
- Extra-curricular activities — participating in general school activities, for example, camps, excursions, sports days or coaching team sports.
- Team Contribution – operating as a professional within the school and employing organisation in order to facilitate a best approach to work.
A school chaplain is a safe person to connect with at school who provides a listening ear, caring presence, and a message of hope. They care for students struggling with difficult relationships with peers or family members, poor self-esteem, aggressive behaviours, school concerns, and other issues affecting their social and emotional wellbeing.
Chaplains do not provide professional counselling nor do they refer to outside agencies. They are not responsible for the case management of students and must work within specific, mandated guidelines (DETE).
Whilst chaplain's will hold to a specific faith worldview, there are strict guidelines in place that govern how a chaplain may approach matters of spirituality within the school context. Chaplains are not permitted to proselytise, coerce, initiate spiritual conversations, use social media or school newsletters to promote faith, or undermine another religious or spiritual believe (DETE).
Who is the Albany Creek State School Chaplain?
Chappy Mathokozo Mbuzi (we call her Chappy Matho for short!) is our school chaplain and she commenced in 2015. Chappy Matho has extended experience in working with youth and children in various areas including SU Qld camps and programs, Red Frogs Hotel Chaplaincy, Pine Rivers Neighbourhood Centre (Encircle), Orana youth Shelter and her local church. Chappy Matho holds a Diploma in Youth Work and is actively involved in various professional development programs to remain current and skilled in her role.
Albany Creek State School Chaplaincy
At Albany Creek State School, Chappy Matho works with students in both group and individual settings, to provide pastoral care, emotional and social support, and to just "share life" with the students. For specific one to one support students can be referred to our school chaplain, through the leadership team; with the permission of their parent/caregiver.
Chappy Matho also works in classrooms to offer social and emotional skills to the students through engaging play, storytelling, and planned programs designed to enhance students' personal development.
Matho connects with the broader community through actively engaging with holiday programs and activities held outside the school. Chappy is currently working to co-ordinate 'Chappy Chums' to bring a positive mentoring program to the school community.