Since 2007 St Mary MacKillop School has been one of many schools in the three education sectors across Australia which have been successful in obtaining funding from the Australian Federal Government National Chaplaincy Programme to support pastoral care support and well-being in the school community. Since then, the evolving role of Chaplain at St Mary MacKillop School has been, and continues to be, fulfilled by Mrs Bernadette Thomson. The programme is now known as the National Schools Chaplaincy Programme.
Attention to the emotional and spiritual aspect of health is not only a formal part of the Health and Wellbeing Education Curriculum, but is integral to fulfilling the mission and vision of St Mary MacKillop School – creating opportunities for our students to encounter life in all its richness as we seek to nurture students to take their place in the world as happy and productive citizens.
The Chaplaincy role gives overt support to families, students and educators – physically, emotionally and spiritually and in the area of social development and interaction. It brings a consistent calm presence in the school community, promoting connection and strengthening the foundation of trust and community acceptance and belonging.
Bernadette Thomson has the completed Mental Health First Aid Training Course. Students and families freely access confidential support for coping with any life challenges or traumas which may arise. The Chaplaincy role works closely with community agencies supporting positive mental and social health including the Catholic agency Centacare, and UCWCSA (Uniting Church Wesley Country SA – Strengthening Families).
The Connecting Space, which has been set aside for students to use at break time to build relationship connections, continues to be most successful and attractive to the students. It also supports the school educators in delivering health and social and emotional learning to the students. The Chaplaincy role is also a non-judgmental and welcoming avenue for students and families to be heard in the school community.
The Chaplaincy role has been able to strongly support the introduction of KidsMatter Mental Health and Health and Wellbeing Framework to the school community and has provided access to the School Continence Toolkit.