The Pastoral Care Council of the ACT
is a peak body that represents a cross-section of pastoral care providers and is accountable to the community through the network of pastoral carers and pastoral care providers in Canberra, Australia.
 
The Council includes representation from religious and spiritual organisations and pastoral carers, together with representation from organisations concerned with pastoral care, and appropriate representation by the ACT Government.

Intentional Friendship
The importance of this concept is captured in David Oliphant's thesis, A Philosophy of Pastoral Care, "Intentional Friendship" [summary].
 
David OliphantDavid says, "It is gaining a unique place within our secular society alongside other caring modalities such as social work, community work, and general counselling, specifically to help meet the religious, spiritual, emotional and pastoral needs of the general community."

Report by Chair of the Board

 

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Pastoral care is provided by approved trained carers in institutions and the community.

Offering emotional support and spiritual care by helping people connect with their own inner and community resources.A pastoral or spiritual carer offers
a friendship
that is intentionally seeking to "walk with you along your path". Its focus is on emotional support and spiritual care.
 
In difficult and demanding times such as a critical illness or other traumas in life, we may experience high stress, reducing our ability to cope. At these times the help of others may be very valuable. Family members and friends are often a very important support, but sometimes the presence of a person who is more emotionally detached from the situation can be very helpful.


Every person has her or his own particular spiritual needs, to which the offering of pastoral / spiritual care can be of support. Religious traditions are a source of comfort and direction in life for many. It is our spirituality that is at the core of self identity and sense of purpose in life.

Spiritual support is an essential aspect of the provision of pastoral care.


The unique nature of Pastoral Care

Spiritual care can be a dimension of any discipline, when a practitioner provides wholistic care, that includes the spiritual dimension
Pastoral care is a person-centred, holistic approach to care that complements the care offered by other helping disciplines while paying particular attention to spiritual care. The focus of pastoral care is upon the healing, guiding, supporting, reconciling, nurturing, liberating, and empowering of people in whatever situation they find themselves*.
*Pastoral care definition from Bruce Rumbold, La Trobe University School of Public Health
Pastoral / spiritual care is the only caring modality in which personal connection is the prime goal of interaction.
 
Because the nature of friendship is the mutual self disclosure of each person, pastoral care includes the skill by the carer of appropriately revealing him or herself as a person in the pastoral conversation. The value of this offer of friendship becomes important when the other person is interested to receive it.
Pastoral care can be described as 'intentional friendship'An effective pastoral carer is an expert 'non expert'. The conversations she or he initiates are between two or more free and equal persons where there is no necessary assumption of 'expertise' as there is with a counsellor or therapist.
 
Pastoral care requires high levels of interpersonal skill focused in the free and equal relationship of friendship in which the carers intentions are formed in the interest of the patient or person, undergirded by a general motive of love and concern.
 
The provision of pastoral care is becoming profession in its own right within institutions, incorporating the provision of pastoral care by religious communities. Because the nature of friendship is the mutual self disclosure of each person, pastoral care includes the skill by the carer of appropriately revealing him or herself as a person in the pastoral conversation. The value of this offer of friendship becomes important when the other person is interested to receive it.

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The place of religion in pastoral care
Chaplaincy and pastoral care in Australia have traditionally been the work of religious communities caring for their own members in providing care.
 

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Multi-Faith Approach
A training program was developed which enables a enables multi-faith approach to pastoral care. Leading people from the Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist traditions were brought together to test the strategy in this 10 day program in Canberra.
 
At the end of the program participants were saying: "Despite the baggage of my previous understandings of other faiths, I am now more accepting of other perspectives" and "I am better able to see others from their perspective and to journey together with them, while remaining true to my beliefs."
» Multi-Faith Training Project info
Ensuring multi faith opportunities in the provision of pastoral care
Institutions such as hospitals need to ensure that there is adequate provision of emotional and spiritual support. Over the years in Australia this has been addressed primarily from a Christian perspective with representatives of various churches and the provision of chaplains. With the increasing diversity of cultures and religious orientation there is a need to approach pastoral care addressing the multi-faith diversity.
 
While here can be difficulties in mutual understanding when encountering people of differing faith traditions, training programs now provide help.

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The role of chaplains, church visitors and spiritual carers
Within a Pastoral Care Unit there is a team of visitors made up of people who may have titles such as chaplains, church visitors or pastoral carers.
 
No matter what your beliefs or religious persuasion may be, the designated pastoral carer (whatever their title) who may be visiting you in hospital or other institution, will be respecting your values.
 
If you want see someone from your faith tradition, the pastoral care unit will seek to ensure that an appropriate carer or chaplain is asked to visit you.

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Pastoral Care Oversight Training Organisations