“I see so much in them”: Australian Chaplains telling an alternative narrative of adolescents in the justice system
Research with young people within youth justice settings has consistently found that they have a great need for a sense of safety and for relationships, built on trust and care, that are optimistic and affirming and support them to change their attitudes and develop more prosocial behaviours. These studies have also found that due to a number of organisational and systemic challenges, young people rarely develop these relationships or enjoy the benefits that they facilitate.
We undertook a qualitative study with the aim of providing insight into the impact of chaplaincy in the Australian juvenile justice system. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with six chaplains and managers of chaplaincy services in the juvenile justice system in Victoria, Australia.
Our study confirmed that the safe and trusting relationship that the chaplains provide is, therefore, particularly meaningful and provides a starting point for the chaplain to be able to positively support and influence the adolescents. Our study also demonstrates that chaplains are ideally positioned to support vulnerable young people given the belief in human dignity and non-judgemental and caring presence that is inherent to their role. Through the provision of support, comfort and spiritual counselling, chaplains bring a compassionate presence to juvenile justice centres, propelling adolescents to find purpose and meaning in their lives, and supporting rehabilitative efforts.
Conversations on what can be done to improve the juvenile justice system in Australia should include a discussion around the support of chaplaincy services, including discussion around increasing chaplaincy funding.
In an otherwise dehumanising context characterised by pain, chaplains tell an alternative narrative—a narrative that these adolescents are worth fighting for.
Dr Chloe Gordon and Prof Sandra Jones (published in Health and Social Care in the Community).
In the lead up to Lent, ACU Engagement and Campus Ministry collaborated on a household sharing activity. The aim of this initiative is to repurpose, recycle and redistribute household goods to staff and students who may be looking for these items. As part of this initiative bedding, kitchenware and other household items have kindly been donated by members of the ACU community and these items are now available for new homes.
If you or someone you may know could benefit from an extra blanket for winter or some items for the kitchen that would make life easier please help yourself to the sharing initiative. Staff are also encouraged to share this news with students who may be feeling the change of cooler weather or the pinch of mid-semester pressures.
The sharing initiative is located on the mezzanine level of the Daniel Mannix Building.
Do you have a story to tell?
ACU Engagement doesn’t own community engagement. Our role is to support, facilitate and celebrate the community engagement activities of all ACU students and staff. If you have a story to tell about a community engagement activity that you, your staff, or your students have participated in, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you share your stories with the ACU community.
Meet Miranda Bush
Hello! My name is Miranda and I have recently commenced as Community Engagement Officer in NSW, joining Vivien Cinque at the North Sydney campus.
I have a background in working in the not-for-profit sector, most recently for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) as a Pathways Advisor. In this role I worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students on AIEF scholarships to ensure their successful transition from school, to further studies or employment through career focused case management and by fostering employment related skills and networks. I also coordinated a mentor program and tutor program to support scholarship students to complete Year 12.
I am passionate about education and social impact initiatives and am thrilled to be joining the Engagement team and also the broader ACU community. I hope to hit the ground running and am looking forward to connecting with staff, students and community partners in the near future.
Opportunities to make a difference
ACU Engagement is committed to ensuring that all ACU staff and students have the opportunity to make a contribution to their community that is feasible and meaningful to them, whilst meeting community needs in a way that is valuable and respectful. We encourage you to find a current opportunity from the list below and make a difference in your community!
Donation Opportunity - Ballarat Campus (VIC): A reminder to bring your good quality clothing items (and particularly new socks) to the pop-up shop for the homeless. You can find the collection point at the Concierge desk.
Volunteer Opportunity - Foodbank (NSW): Foodbank NSW is reliant on volunteers to help fight hunger, so your time volunteering will make a huge difference.
Volunteer Opportunity - Conversation Club (NSW): The Strathfield Conversation Club Program is a weekly program aimed at reducing social isolation and building confidence in conversational English for adults from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Volunteer Opportunity - Chatterbox Café (NSW): Chatterbox Café is a weekly program for adults looking to improve their English language skills.
For more information, to register your interest for any of these opportunities, or if you are aware of more opportunities you think we should know about, please email us at email@example.com