Advocating for Defence families

Talking to a Chaplain

When you need support as a Defence family it’s good to know who you can talk to.

Victoria, Our National Delegate in Western Australia spoke with Navy Chaplain Kelvin Harris from HMAS Sterling about his role as a Chaplain and how he supports Defence families.

Why did you get into chaplaincy in the ADF?

I joined the RAN as an Engineering Junior Sailor, and have served in the RAN for over 30 years. In 2011 I was separating from Defence and making enquiries into becoming a priest in the Anglican Church. During this period, there were several conversations regarding my discharge and whether or not I would contemplate on re-joining the RAN as a Chaplain. It was brought to my attention that there was an In Service Scheme for changing over to a Chaplain. I took the option of the In Service Scheme.

What is the most common reason people come to see you?

People mainly come in to the office to unload or unpack a situation they are struggling to manage. I find that the principal conversations are with people who are posting into the unit. Many postings are due to some particular challenge that the Defence member is going through. The issue could be family, health, or defence related, nevertheless, the posting is due to something that is outside the persons control. Once the person realises that they can talk to me without restrictions and, that I am prepared to listen without judging them, they talk freely.

What is your best advice for maintaining good relationships in Defence families?

For me, communication is without a doubt the centre of maintaining good relationships in Defence families. Communication between both partners, between the partners and Defence administration, and partners and the Divisional Systems. When there is early and good communication, small problems are sorted out and do not become larger issues.

If someone is not religious can they still come to speak with you?

Most of the people who come and see me are not religious. When people are posting into the unit, the form that we use has only one question on it regarding religion.

What is the best way to contact a Chaplain?

If someone wants to call a Chaplain after hours, the easiest way is to call the Duty Chaplains mobile of that particular unit or, call the Duty Officer and ask for the Duty Chaplains phone number. If it is during work hours, simply walk over to their office and say hello, or walk up to a Chaplain, say hello and make an appointment to see them.

To contact your closest Chaplain, call the Defence switchboard on 1300 333 362 and ask for the Duty Chaplain at the base closest to your home.

Green Dot RAAF Chaplains.

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