Did you know that Flinders University provides chaplains to support students?
So, what is a chaplain? What do they do? and why would I speak to one?
Great questions and we’re glad you asked.
A common misconception is that a chaplain is only concerned with all things religious. Some feel uncomfortable at the thought of seeing a chaplain because they think chaplains only want to concentrate on religion or try to convert them. Absolutely not. Chaplains are here to care for you, and to meet your need. Your need is our focus, not some unseen agenda. Chaplains are a safe and confidential point of contact.
The meaning of the word ‘chaplain’ actually originated in the 4th century when a soldier who met a scantily dressed beggar, tore his cloak in half and gave one half to the beggar to bring him some warmth and comfort. It is from the word ‘cloak’ that the word ‘chaplain’ was derived. So, it is the cloak which provided the comfort and care that is at the core of chaplaincy. Historically the role of the chaplain was connected to the religious care provided by religious institutions, and chaplaincy is still associated with this connection, but as seen from its beginnings its origins stem from a random act of kindness.
Chaplains at Flinders University are a part of the OASIS Student Wellbeing Centre. The Oasis Centre can be found at the Bedford Park, Main campus, – and it’s a great place to visit! (whilst the centre is closed, you can still email the chaplains).
Your well-being is our focus. There are five aspects to your personal well-being: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual. These are known as the 5 dimensions of Health and Well-being. In order to be considered “well,” it is important for none of these areas to be neglected. As a Student Community Wellbeing Centre, OASIS, has a focus on supporting all these dimensions of well-being, so that you can achieve academic and personal success. To this end, Oasis has various programmes running so please check out our website.
The role of the chaplain is to oversee the spiritual dimension of well-being within the community at Flinders University. This is called Spiritual Care.
But what is spirituality? What is spiritual health? and what is spiritual care?
As one of the dimensions of well-being, it is made obvious that spiritual health is an essential aspect to our lives that needs our attention. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we are often unsure as to what it might actually refer to.
From a general perspective, (and how we refer to it at Oasis) spiritual health relates to our overall sense of purpose in life. Purpose is grounded in our personal values and beliefs which can differ greatly from person to person. It is acknowledged that having a sense of purpose can help us maintain a healthy perspective, overcome life’s challenges, and build resilience.
Spirituality and spiritual health can be connected to a structured religion, but not necessarily. Chaplains are here to connect with people of all faiths, and none. As chaplains we are here to support your life journey, whatever that may look like for you. Chaplains are here to help facilitate you flourishing while you are here at Flinders. We are here to support you during life’s challenges, as well as celebrate your joys and success. And this is what we call spiritual care.
Our lives are multi-layered and consist of other relationships, responsibilities, pressures, financial constraints, and accommodation issues. You may be a long way away from home, away from loved ones, family, and friends. You may be experiencing culture shock if you are new to Australia, and so on. At Flinders, we recognise that these aspects are real and impact who you are as a person, and as a student. So, if you are experiencing a sense of challenge in any area of your life then please seek out support.
A common issue we often see is that students (most people in fact) wait till their challenges are overwhelming before they reach out for help. Please do not do that, but rather try to seek out support early. A quick chat might be all that’s really required. This may seem like a simple, almost unnecessary thing, but it can really make a big difference in people’s lives.
Chaplains are a great point of contact; we are easy to access, we are there to listen, to help explore your current situation, consider options and strategies with you, and discover together a way forward. We work closely with Health, Counselling and Disability Services and other student services so can also refer you to other support services as needed. You don’t need to be religious at all, but if you are that’s fine too. Chaplaincy provides another layer of care alongside the other great support services that Flinders University provides.
How to access the chaplains
If you would like to check out the Chaplaincy team click this link to find out more. We have a great team consisting of Dave & Deb, who are primarily based at Bedford Park (Main Campus), and Maria (at Sturt Campus) and Toh (at Tonsley Campus). Chaplains run a variety of programs as well including conversation groups, meditation, and other events and activities. Please see the Oasis program page for more details and to keep up to date. Chaplains are also available for one-on-one connection and conversation. So, if you would like to get in touch with a chaplain just send an email to one of the chaplains and we’ll go from there.
During this time of uncertainty and challenge (e.g. COVID-19, climate change, political instability) we are greatly aware of the added stress this adds to student’s lives. So please remember that Chaplains are here for everyone and we would love to connect with you! 😊
Maria Ng, Oasis Chaplain
The Chaplaincy team from left to right – Deb, Dave, Toh, and Maria