Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Services
Authoring Organisational Unit
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Chaplaincy Services

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy deals with the principles and practices for the operation of the UWA Chaplaincy Services in the multicultural /multi-faith context of The University of Western Australia.


the Universitymeans The University of Western Australia

a UWA Chaplainor visiting chaplain means an ordained or credentialed minister/representative of a faith community who is appointed by the University to serve the UWA community.

a faith communityis a group of people who share common religious/spiritual beliefs and practices. Examples are Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian (various denominations including Anglican, Lutheran, Orthodox, Assemblies of God, Roman Catholic, Uniting Church), Jewish, Hindu, Islamic, Sikh.

a commissioning faith communityis a community under whose auspices and accountability a visiting chaplain operates.

UWA Multifaith Chaplaincyis a group of chaplains who agree to cooperate in their supportive work of the University in accordance with agreed common principles, as outlined in this policy.

Policy statement:

1 General principles

1.1 Supporting the spirituality of people at UWA is harmonious with the UWA founding motto to "Seek Wisdom"; and its values of encouraging open exchange of ideas and thought, and fostering openness, honesty, mutual understanding, fairness, trust, and responsibility in social, moral and academic matters.

1.2 The University is committed to supporting students and staff with a diversity of cultural, religious and non-religious backgrounds and promotes interfaith conversation and collaboration wherever possible.

2 Values and role of UWA Chaplains

2.1 UWA Chaplains are concerned for the spirituality of the whole person, intellectual, emotional, physical. Within this context, chaplaincy encompasses three related foci:

(a) Spirituality - one's personal experience of identity and relationship with God, other people, and the environment;

(b) Religion and faith - the expression of one's spirituality within a specific community with narratives, history and rituals; and

(c) Values and ethics - the outworking of the above in relation to day-to-day decision making. This may include "public theology" in dialogue with other academic disciplines and fields of knowledge.

2.2 UWA Chaplains have a twin role of pastoral support to the University as a whole as well as the specific needs of individuals.

2.3 Chaplains may typically engage in the following activities:

(a) pastorally care for/counsel students and staff;

(b) support faith development and intellectual enquiry amongst students and staff;

(c) encourage the development of harmonious community life on the UWA campuses and colleges;

(d) lead worship and other religious rituals and practices;

(e) contribute to supporting the work, of any UWA department, the goal of which is the enhancement of the pastoral care of students or staff;

(f) provide advice and support to UWA staff and students on issues of religion and spirituality;

(g) advocate for justice;

(h) teach and build awareness of religious and/or theological studies

(i) represent a "faith position" in public discourse on matters of social and academic policy

(j) act as a "neutral" person, offering services in reconciliation of conflict; and

(k) keep their own faith communities informed on matters relating to the role of tertiary institutions.

3 Training, Experience and supervision of UWA Chaplains

3.1 Visiting chaplains must have education, training and background relevant to university life as a basis for interacting with a tertiary clientele. This normally means holding a university degree as well as background and/or training in pastoral care/human services;

3.2 Chaplains must have an up-to-date National Police Certificate; and where appropriate, a Western Australia Working With Children Check

3.3 The commissioning faith community is responsible for providing oversight and support for the chaplain and holding the chaplain accountable for performance standards within the codes of professional conduct of the respective faith community

3.4 Professional indemnity for visiting chaplains is the responsibility of the commissioning faith community.

4 UWA Multifaith Chaplaincy

4.1 Chaplains who are endorsed as visitors to UWA must agree to the following principles:

4.1.1 Diversity

(a) To respect the diverse spiritual and religious context of UWA;

(b) To seek to be conversant with the needs and practices of various faiths and develop supportive working relationships with people from other faith traditions;

(c) To cooperate with other support services, individuals and agencies, within the university to ensure a completeness of care within the university community in the interests of the common good;

(d) To recognise that while different faith perspectives need not agree with each other on many issues, that different beliefs will be handled respectfully and peacefully, with generous listening to the perspectives and viewpoints of others; and

(e) To acknowledge the legitimacy of offering a faith position as "public truth" while at the same time not demeaning or seeking to belittle or deconstruct the faith position of other people in a way which could be interpreted as coercive, invasive or hostile.

4.1.2 Integration with UWA services

(a) To be aware of, and respectfully work with, the policies and procedures of the University particularly in relation to diversity and equity, occupational health and safety and grievance policies and procedures;

(b) To promote understanding and reconciliation in situations of conflict in line with such policies and procedures;

(c) To listen to and respond with care and understanding to the needs of all members of the UWA community irrespective of religious or non-religious background; and

(d) To endeavour to support the work of theological and / or religious studies at UWA in a manner which takes into consideration the primary academic function of the university.

4.1.3 Ethics and conduct

(a) UWA Chaplains must adhere to the University Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct and will: treat colleagues with respect, consideration, fairness and good faith; respect the professional confidences of clients and colleagues; and seek mediation if conflict with colleagues emerges;

(b) UWA Chaplains must adhere to the codes of ethics set out by their own commissioning faith communities;

(c) UWA Chaplains must be in regular professional supervision of their work through the supervisory structure of their commissioning faith community;

(d) UWA Chaplains must maintain clear professional boundaries appropriate to pastoral relationships, will be aware of dynamics of power and will not meet their personal needs through pastoral relationships; and

(e) UWA Chaplains must recognise professional limits and must make referrals accordingly and do not generally (unless specifically qualified) offer clinical interventions.

4.1.4 Tertiary Campus Ministry Association

(a) UWA Chaplains must retain membership of the Tertiary Campus Ministry Association and be accountable to its ethics and codes of practices.

5 UWA support to visiting chaplains

5.1 UWA may make available to visiting chaplains such administrative services as desk space, telephone, university computer access, photocopying and stationary according to need and availability of resources and this may be reviewed from time to time by the host department (e.g. Student Services).

5.2 To assist in achieving the objectives of this policy and in the interests of good communications, individual chaplains will provide to the Director of Student Services, a summary report, at the end of each year of the kind of services provided to the university during the preceding year.

6 Appointment of visiting chaplains

6.1 UWA Chaplains are appointed by the Vice-Chancellor where the Vice-Chancellor is satisfied that:

(a) there is a need for the visiting chaplain;

(b) the nominee will be able to function effectively as a member of a chaplaincy team in accordance with agreed principles;

(c) the appointment would facilitate the achievement of the objectives of this policy.

6.2 The proposed visiting chaplain must be the formal nominee of his/her religious body or church. This would normally be an official indication in writing from the head of that religious body or church that the person is being nominated as Visiting Chaplain to UWA.

6.3 The appointment of a visiting chaplain may be initiated by either the University or a religious body/church, where there is a perceived need for the visiting chaplain.


Appointment of visiting chaplains

1. Where a possible need for a visiting chaplain has been identified, the Director Student Services will:

(a) Confirm that there is a need/role for the nominee and that the nominee will be able to function effectively as a member of a chaplaincy team in accordance with agreed principles (Note: In some cases, what presents as a request for a chaplaincy appointment is actually a more focussed need for someone to support the needs of a specific group on campus. This need can sometimes be met by the appointment of 'group support worker' engaged directly under the auspices of, say, a Guild Affiliated group, rather than under the 'Chaplaincy Services Policy');

(b) Clarify the proposed scope of activity and amount of time to be spent on campus; and

(c) Make a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor through the Registrar.

2. Following consideration and determination of the recommendation by the Vice-Chancellor, the Director Student Services will notify the proposer (i.e. the commissioning religious body/church) of the University's decision and, where applicable, send a written invitation/confirmation to the proposed visiting chaplain.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Director, Student Services

Related Policies or legislation:

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