EAST ZONE: Director’s Update with Jenni Dobbin

Welcome to Term 3! As we now enter the second half of the year, I have lots of exciting updates on all things chaplaincy related. Read on to find out more. 

Salary Increases

SU Australia’s leadership team has been carefully considering the cost of living pressures we are all experiencing, including the Fair Work Commission’s Annual Review of wages.

This is a complex area, with costs rising in different ways for different items, which will mean that household budgets are under pressure, particularly for people earning chaplaincy wages. 

In line with statutory requirements, we will increase all chaplains’ superannuation by 0.5% from July. In addition, the Board of SU Australia has approved that we increase the base pay of all chaplains across the nation by 4.6% from July to reflect underlying cost of living pressures. That percentage aligns with the Fair Work Commission’s analysis for equivalent circumstances. 

SU Australia will bear the cost of those increases from July. Our arrangements with state governments do not allow mid-year price increases, but your Local Chaplaincy Committee will be contacted in the coming months about the impact on expense rates for the 2023 school year.

Amended COVID Vaccination Requirements for Chaplains

As you may have heard, the Premier recently announced that the Chief Health Officer (CHO) amended the COVID19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in a high-risk setting from 1am, June 30, 2022.

This means that from June 30, workers will no longer be required to be vaccinated for COVID19 to attend schools (or early childhood education and care settings) in Queensland. This applies to all workers, including contractors, volunteers, service providers, regulators and auditors. It means that vaccinated and unvaccinated workers will have the same level of access to Queensland state schools and school activities.

It was advised on the last Friday of Term 2 that COVID19 vaccination requirements have been amended and we’re working on contacting Principals and any past chaplains who may still be interested in returning to their roles.

As you can imagine, this news has come at a busy time, and we are very grateful for your patience and understanding as we have these conversations with chaplains and schools alike. Like a number of other sectors, we are still in a ‘vacancy-crisis’ with vacant positions much higher than they’ve been for many years, so if you know of someone who might be interested in becoming a school chaplain, please encourage them to apply using the link below.

Extension of DoE Contract

The Department of Education wishes to extend QED SOA91112 for the Provision of Chaplaincy and/or Student Welfare Worker and/or Youth Support Coordinator Services in Queensland State Schools for an additional period to December 31, 2024.

This means that SU Australia has been able to extend our standing offer arrangement to provide Chaplaincy Services until December 2024. We are delighted to have such certainty early in the year that NSCP grants will be extended.

Schools Ministry Conference

We had 700 school chaplains from across Australia attend our first National Schools Ministry Conference in the second week of school holidays. It was a jam-packed few days, and our chappies were thrilled to be in the same room with one another after a few years apart. 

There were professional-development electives covering a range of topics, including:

  • Working with environmentally concerned young people,
  • Supporting Indigenous Young Australians,
  • Supporting students with a disability,
  • Supporting children through divorce and separation,
  • Drugs, alcohol and young Australians,
  • Support after suicide, and more

A key highlight was the final evening, where chaplains and schools ministry workers heard a keynote presentation from Dr Robi Sonderegger – a clinical psychologist internationally recognised for his work around well-being. 

It was a fantastic few days, and we trust your chaplains will be returning invigorated and inspired to once again support the families and young people in your community.

Spring Camps

It wouldn’t be Term 3 without some mention of our upcoming spring camping season. We already have 24 camps booked for September/October in south-east Queensland. 

These camps cater for primary and secondary age students, with specialist and interest groups camps available. If you have young people in your social circle who might be interested, please pass along the following link. SU Camps have a rich heritage of fun and creating life-long friendships, and we’d love as many young people as possible to take part this year!

End of Financial Year Appeal Results

Last but not least, we have been so grateful for the massive support for your chaplains during our recent End of Financial Year appeal. Due to more frequent mention of chaplaincy in the news lately, we were pleased to see this support come in, and in Queensland alone, $240k+ was raised for school chaplaincy.

These funds will go directly towards ensuring your chaplains remain equipped, trained and resourced so our children, young people and families have a trusted and trained support worker available.

Thank you as always for your unwavering support and dedication to supporting the chaplain/s in your school community. We really couldn’t do this work without you, so thank you for all you do.

Wishing you the very best for the term ahead,

Jenni Dobbin