Chaplaincy

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

​​Purpose of this policy

To provide advice about the provision of chaplaincy services in Victorian government schools for chaplains funded via school funds or a community partnership and not funded via the National School Chaplaincy Programme (NSCP). For the specific guidelines applying to the engagement of chaplains via the NSCP, see: National School Chaplaincy Programme

Policy

Schools must follow the requirements outlined below in regard to the engagement of chaplains funded via school funds or community partnerships.

Chaplaincy services

Schools engage chaplains to support the educational, social and emotional wellbeing of students. They work closely with wellbeing and allied health staff in schools to support students and their educational outcomes, staff, families and the wider school community.

Chaplains are guided by the Department’s Principles for Health and Wellbeing which underpin effective professional practice to promote and support optimal health, wellbeing and educational outcomes for students, see: Principles for Health and Wellbeing

Engagement

Chaplains can be engaged directly by schools:

  • via the school’s Student Resource Package (SRP), or
  • through a community partnership (voluntary or paid).

Schools can:

  • employ a chaplain directly, usually as an Education Support Staff member; or 
  • enter into a General Service Agreement with a chaplaincy provider who will arrange for a chaplain to provide chaplaincy services in the school. See: General Service Agreement (docx - 75.91kb)

Qualifications

The minimum qualification requirements for chaplains are either:

  • a Certificate IV in Youth Work; or
  • a Certificate IV in Pastoral Care; or
  • an equivalent qualification that must include competencies in ‘mental health’ and ‘making appropriate referrals’.

Consent

Schools must obtain written consent from parents/guardians/carers or the student (if adult or mature minor) prior to the provision of chaplaincy services. See: Chaplaincy Parent Consent (docx - 267.56kb)Form. A set of FAQs on parental consent​ (docx - 168.38kb) is included for information and guidance. Translated Parent Consent Forms can be found on the National School Chaplaincy Programme webpage.

Parents/guardians/carers and students must be advised that chaplaincy services are voluntary. They must also be informed of the nature of the chaplaincy service to be provided, the role of the chaplain, the type of information to be collected and reasons for its collection, conditions applying to disclosure of such information, and their right of access to the information. Schools can obtain consent from parents/guardians/carers and students at the beginning of each school year, as appropriate. For more information, see: the  Chaplaincy Information, Records and Reporting Policy (below) and Decision Making Responsibilities for Students.

Roles and responsibilities

Chaplains will:

  • work as a member of the school’s wellbeing team in the delivery of student wellbeing services
  • contribute to improving student engagement and connectedness
  • contribute to providing a safe, inclusive and supportive learning environment
  • provide pastoral care and guidance to students
  • operate within the school community and with external providers.

The roles and responsibilities of chaplains could include:

  • providing support in areas such as student attendance, engagement and mental health
  • providing students with support and/or appropriate referrals in difficult situations such as during times of grief, or when students are facing personal or emotional challenges
  • providing pastoral care and guidance to students about values and ethical matters, referring students, or sourcing appropriate services to meet their needs, which may involve access to services in the community
  • supporting students and staff to create an environment which promotes the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development and wellbeing of all students
  • supporting students and staff to create an environment of cooperation and mutual respect, and promoting an understanding of diversity within the range of cultures and relevant traditions.

Chaplains must not:

  • take advantage of their privileged position to proselytise, evangelise or advocate for a particular religious view or belief
  • put themselves, or allow themselves, to be placed in a compromising situation, recognising that there are circumstances where confidentiality may be sought by the student
  • conduct themselves in a manner which impacts the delivery of their services, even in a private capacity
  • perform professional or other services for which they are not qualified
  • conduct religious services or ceremonies or lead students or staff in religious observances unless agreed to by the Principal
  • deliver special religious instruction.

A Position Description (docx - 43.61kb) template for the engagment of chaplains in schools is included.

Note: Chaplaincy providers and chaplains will operate in accordance with applicable Departmental policies and guidelines, See: Related policies and Department resources below.

Code of Conduct

Chaplains must comply with all State and Commonwealth legislation, and with all relevant government school policies, including those concerning child protection, mandatory reporting, privacy, anti-discrimination, human rights, and creation and retention of student records. To the extent that there is any conflict between a school or departmental policy and a policy of the organisation which employs the chaplain or with which the chaplain is affiliated, the relevant government school policies prevail.

Chaplains are required to observe a high standard of professional conduct at all times. When carrying out their responsibilities, they must:

  • recognise, respect and affirm the authority of the school principal (or delegate) and/or school governing body and work in consultation with them
  • contribute to a supportive, safe, inclusive and caring learning environment within the school
  • respect, accept and be sensitive to other people’s views, values and beliefs, including the cultural and religious perspectives of parents/guardians/carers
  • ensure all students are supported with respect for their religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs
  • actively discourage any form of harassment or discrimination
  • refer students to a service or organisation which is best placed to support the student’s particular needs in accordance with the beliefs and values of the student or their family
  • provide accurate and impartial information about the support and services available in the broader community
  • be approachable to all students, staff and members of the school community
  • respect students, families and staff for their beliefs and not seek to impose their own beliefs or persuade students towards a particular set of beliefs
  • avoid unnecessary physical contact with a student, recognising, however, that there may be some circumstances where physical contact may be appropriate, such as where the student is injured or distraught
  • keep appropriate records to document the support provided to students/school
  • provide access to these records to the school, as appropriate, to ensure the school can meet its duty of care obligations to students.

For a code of conduct template, see: Code of Conduct (docx - 37.04kb) for chaplains in Victorian government schools

Child Protection–reporting obligations

Chaplains are in frequent contact with students and are well placed to observe when a child or young person appears to be at risk of abuse or neglect.

The chaplain must comply with mandatory reporting obligations under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) as if the chaplain were a ‘mandatory reporter’. This means that the chaplain must make a report to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection if they form a reasonable belief that a student is in need of protection as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, and the student’s parents/guardians/carers are unable or unwilling to protect the student from that abuse. For more information, see: the Department of Health and Human Services Child Protection.

For further information see A step-by-step guide to making a report to Child protection or Child FIRST (pdf - 269.5kb)

All chaplains should:

  • notify the school principal if they have concerns about the wellbeing of a child
  • notify the DHHS Child Protection if they form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is in need of protection from significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, and the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to protect the child.
  • note the Chaplaincy Information, Records and Reporting policy below.

For more information about the Department's policy on child protection reporting obligations, see: Child Protection - Reporting Obligations

Information, records and reporting policy

The Chaplaincy Information, Records and Reporting Policy applies to chaplains who are not part of the NSCP.

This policy clarifies the roles, responsibilities and obligations of chaplaincy providers and chaplains who provide chaplaincy services in Victorian government schools.

The policy includes guidance in relation to consent for chaplaincy services, referral, purpose of collection, collection of information, recording of information, quality of information, security and storage of information, transfer of information between schools, ownership and custody of information, use of information, disclosure of information, retention of information, access to and correction of information, other requests for information, management of complaints about the handling of information, management of other complaints, reporting obligations, and training.

For more information, see Chaplaincy Information, Records and Reporting Policy (docx - 74.46kb).

Forms are also provided for use by chaplains to manage the referral/intake process as well as for recording case notes, see:

Students (or their authorised representative) in government schools can apply for access to student records via Freedom of Information. For more information see:

Complaints

Principals must ensure that the chaplain and the chaplaincyprovider (where appropriate), are aware of the Department’s policy on complaints management. Principals should also ensure there are procedures in place at the school to manage complaints about the chaplain or service delivery with the provider concerned. This will always involve engaging the provider when a complaint is escalated to the Principal.

Complaints should be resolved at the school wherever possible. Where this is not possible, schools should follow the standard complaints management process established by the Department, see: Parent Complaints

Complaints involving alleged serious misconduct, unsatisfactory performance or sexual harassment must be referred to the Conduct and Ethics Branch for advice regarding an appropriate course of action, see: Employee Conduct Branch

Records of all complaints must be held at the school.

Related policies

Chaplains and chaplaincy providers must operate in accordance with the following applicable Departmental polcieis and guidelines:

Department resources

Chaplains and chaplaincy providers should also familiarise themselves with the following key Departmental resources:

Child Protection–mandatory reporting training see: Protecting Children - Mandatory Reporting and Other Obligations  elearning module log-in

Child Safe Standards, see: PROTECT

Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum: 

Every Day Counts

Mental and Interperson Wellbing - Environments

Mental Health

Primary Welfare Officer Initiative

Program for Students with Disabilities

Records and Information Management

Responding to Allegations of Student Sexual Assault (pdf - 352.05kb)

Social and Emotional Learning

Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance

Student Mental Health and Suicide Response/Planning

The Student Engagement Policy

Victorian National School Chaplaincy Programme

Victorian System of Care Referral Matrix