Sometimes we can get a little lost on our journey and need a listening ear and gentle guidance to find our way. Whether or not you are a student of faith, the chaplaincy team might be able to be that listening ear for you. Details in post.
The Flinders University Oasis Chaplaincy team (currently Dave, Maria and Toh) has made (and continues to make) a valuable contribution to student wellbeing – encouraging spirituality, offering hospitality, and organising activities that foster a sense of community.
Dave just sent me the 2022 Chaplaincy Report 📨 and I wanted to share some aspects of that report to give you a better sense of the team and the work they do. My hope is that students who would appreciate some spiritual support know where to find it, and that students who haven’t considered chaplaincy support before might consider it in the future.
What do chaplains do?
The chaplaincy team provides pastoral and spiritual care to the university community across Bedford Park, Sturt, and Tonsley campuses. You can learn a bit more about what spiritual care is via this post from chaplain Maria. Throughout 2022, the chaplaincy team provided support to students across various programs, including conversation groups, meditation, forest walks, and chaplaincy pop-ups.
The team recorded 173 pastoral contacts throughout 2022. The demographic data showed an even mix of international (43%) and domestic (41%) students seeking support. What do students see chaplains for? Predictably, the top reason is spiritual care, but students also find talking to chaplains helpful for managing stress, anxiety and having someone to talk to about academic challenges.
Chaplains aren’t always the first people students think of if they are struggling, particularly if they don’t have a specific faith. But chaplains aren’t just there for students of faith. They are great people to share in your journey and provide guidance when you feel lost.
Where can you find them?
The chaplaincy team has been working hard to increase their presence on campus. Starting in 2022 and continuing into 2023, the team has focused on improving their branding and promotion. This has included increased presence at various campus events, wellbeing weeks, and the creation of specific Oasis Chaplaincy videos to introduce the team and available support services.
The main place to find the chaplains is the Oasis Community Centre. It is the bottom floor of the function centre that sits opposite car park 5 (j7 on the campus map). But the team has also been branching out. In 2022, for example, the chaplains had a regular presence at Sturt and Tonsley campuses.
You can also book a time to chat with one of the chaplains. Get in contact with them via their Chill and Connect information page.
Connections with other supports
Chaplains don’t work in isolation. In fact, over the past couple of years they (along with Oasis in general) have reached out to Colleges and Flinders University services to find better ways of working together. That has resulted in tailored Chaplaincy Conversation Groups, specific programs and events and a significant increase in referrals to seek support through the Chaplaincy team by students, counsellors, and campus professionals. In fact, one of the more successful collaborations was the introduction of discipline-specific conversation groups with Social Work and Early Childhood Education. These groups helped participating students develop confidence, connection with others, and gave them opportunities to ask difficult questions about culture or placements.
Within Oasis itself, the chaplaincy team works alongside psychologists, counsellors, and social workers to work together to support student wellbeing.
Finally, the chaplains support student-led programs such as the Flinders Market & Flinders Mates and created the Faith and Spirituality Expo at Bedford Park Campus in collaboration with FUSA Religious and Culture Clubs. The expo highlighted and celebrated the spiritual and cultural dimensions of personal and community wellbeing and connection.
Might they be helpful for you?
If you are a student of faith, the chaplains are a great starting point for learning more about faith-based services, programs and people at Flinders.
But what about if you aren’t a student of faith? Chaplains listen and guide those who are struggling with questions of meaning of purpose. This is most of us at some point in our lives.
Students who have participated in chaplain-led activities leave feeling more confident and connected. So, if you are navigating difficult times and need a listening ear, Dave, Maria or Toh might just be the people you need.