Some great news from the Royal Australian Navy – a New Chaplaincy branch introduces non-religious care option.
Following approval from the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers (MSWO) will be introduced from July 2020 to provide Navy people and their families with professional, non-religious pastoral care and spiritual support.
After 108 years of being a primarily religious capability, this is a significant development which will meet the rapidly changing preferences and religious landscape of Navy people, of which greater than 50% do not currently affiliate with religion.
Appointed MSWOs will be non-religious but professionally qualified and experienced secular wellbeing professionals. The Navy says that their inclusion, within the chaplaincy capability, ensures it continues to deliver high-quality, contemporary, relevant and inclusive service to Navy people.
Collin Acton (Director General – Chaplaincy of the RAN), who is mentioned in this story, is also a member of the steering committee Social Health Australia (SHA), the organisation auspiced by HSV to take over stewardship of the Secular Spiritual Care Network.
We hope that SHA will play an important role in assisting the Navy and other institutions to bring forward this much needed alternative.
Image courtesy of Navy Daily: Royal Australian Navy Chaplain Stephen Varney, Chaplain Sharon White and Chaplain Majidid Essa with the new non-faith-specific rank Branch insignia.