Appointing Chaplains to Campus Ministry

The CCTI is the sole accrediting body working with Victorian tertiary institutions to place chaplains on their campuses. It has worked actively since its institution in the late 1950’s to place chaplains.

The following faith bodies currently constitute the CCTI: the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Uniting Church, the Churches of Christ Conference in Victoria & Tasmania (Melbourne), the Baptist Union, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Salvation Army, the Reformed Churches of Australia, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, and the Islamic Council of Victoria.

Each of these faith bodies has at least one representative on the Council who provides the link between CCTI and the faith body, and who is authorised to consult within their faith body on any recommended Chaplaincy placements. However, the CCTI has the final task of interviewing all prospective chaplains, and reserves the right to make a final decision on accreditation. It is essential therefore that the designated leaders of each faith group are aware of, and conversant with the process for application. They should make recommendations for possible appointments only after a discussion of the process with their CCTI delegates and also the intended applicant(s). In those tertiary institutions which have Chaplaincy committees the chair of the relevant committee should be familiar with this process and be in contact with the CCTI secretary well before any decision is made to put forward a particular applicant for an interview. The process is outlined below:

(1) Chaplaincy placements

Applicants for tertiary ministry are usually interviewed firstly by the relevant tertiary ministry group in each faith body, or a Chaplaincy committee within a university about their ministry goals. Where possible intended appointments ought to be for a period of no less than 2-3 years. Some general guidelines on the kinds of work undertaken by chaplains, together with suggested guidelines for their supervision and support/professional development are provided in the brochure, The role of chaplains on tertiary campuses.

Applicants must have a demonstrable commitment to working with students and staff on campus within a multifaith context, and be able to work well with other support staff on campus. Whilst it is expected that applicants will have required pastoral/ministry contact with members of their own faith body/community, they are not simply on campus to support the work of any one student group. They also need to show that they have the support of their denomination for a specific contractual appointment, visiting the campus regularly rather than infrequently or on an ad-hoc basis.

The specified times for their chaplaincy role need to be detailed in their work contract. A copy of their contract/position description signed by the designated appropriate member(s) of their faith body. No one may be accredited to a Chaplaincy position on campus unless these professional commitments are met, since the aim of CCTI is to ensure a consistent, durable Chaplaincy presence on campus for the long term.

All chaplains appointed to a campus should have an appropriate induction ceremony which includes members of the tertiary community; of the particular faith body; local faith community. The ceremony should be conducted where possible at the campus to which they are being appointed. It provides opportunity for recognition of the chaplain’s work, and also the affirmation of ongoing support for the chaplain during his/her period of service.

(2) Campuses nominated for ministry

Currently, there are some 70 tertiary and 60 T.A.F.E. campuses in Victoria, with CCTI-accredited chaplains working either full-time or part-time on less than 20. Since the ministry of chaplains occurs in an ecumenical and multifaith workplace, Christian denominations and other faith bodies need to think strategically about appointments, rather than simply duplicating what is already occurring on a particular campus. For example, if a local faith community has a particular ministry with TAFE students attending a campus in its vicinity, then it may be worth considering an appointment at that campus to work alongside the existing Chaplaincy team; and faith leaders consult with the CCTI on this. It should be noted though, that an institution is not obliged to provide rooms/other support services for any new chaplains, and this would need to be taken into account by a local faith community when an appointment is being considered.

(3) Duration of the appointment

Representatives from the faith body as well as the applicant should be clear on what the Chaplaincy work will entail. While funding concerns may mean that there is some doubt about the duration of appointment, it is important that the CCTI’s requirements for placements be clearly understood. This reflects the Council’s concern over minimal involvement in the life of the university/TAFE. Funding and organisational matters should be raised in discussions with CCTI prior to any application, and be worked through prior to interview. The chaplain's contractual agreement with their faith body should set out:

  • The chaplain's attendance at a CCTI orientation (around one half-day)

  • Meetings on campus with chaplain colleagues/support personnel

  • The chaplain's contact time on campus for his/her ministry

  • Chaplaincy in-service events: two annual meetings of around one half-day with CCTI for all chaplains and one half-day for annual in-service training orientation

  • The mentoring and support for chaplains which is provided for within the professional guidelines of their faith body.

(4) The chaplain's relationship with the tertiary institution

Chaplains are most often placed in the campus administrative network with Student Services/ Community Services, and usually have their offices in this area. They are viewed by the tertiary institution as honorary staff, having both the responsibilities as well as privileges of being staff members on campus. It is essential that chaplains make themselves familiar with their institution’s codes of work practice as they form their approach to campus work. This will include genuine empathy and connections with the academic; administrative; and support contexts for students and staff on campus. In this way, the chaplain can be a bridge between the tertiary institution and their faith body.

(5) The CCTI interview

An interview for a Chaplaincy position is a necessity rather than being merely a formality, or simply a prelude to appointment. All applicants are considered on their merits for a particular campus position, and are expected to speak to their application, informing interviewers about themselves, their previous ministry-related work, and related details concerning their views on tertiary/ TAFE Chaplaincy. Those who interview the applicants are CCTI members who have extensive experience in the work of campus-based Chaplaincy and who have also worked in local faith communities.

(6) Chaplains' orientation

All newly-accredited chaplains are required to attend a chaplains’ in-service training event held at one of the Melbourne campuses. Its aim is to:

  • Provide chaplains with further information about CCTI and chaplains’ roles on campus

  • Explore some current models of Chaplaincy ministry including issues relating to part-time and full-time campus ministry

  • Allow for discussion of particular ministry issues/questions that chaplains themselves wish to raise.

(7) Support and mentoring of chaplains

CCTI is particularly interested to ensure that all chaplains receive adequate ongoing support and resources for their tertiary-related work. This may happen within the chaplain’s faith community: via retreats/other meetings for spiritual teaching and direction; provision of in-service support; and local networks of clergy/ spiritual leaders.

The following minimum guidelines are suggested:

  • * An annual meeting with an authorised leader/leaders from the chaplain’s faith community or Chaplaincy committee to hear about the chaplain’s work and ministry-related outcomes. The leader and chaplain should identify any ongoing needs for skills training e.g., clinical-pastoral education/ counselling skills and/or short courses/seminars which focus on tertiary sector ministry/ work with young undergraduates

  • Funded/subsidised attendance at the annual Tertiary Campus Ministers’ Association conference

  • A triennial review of ministry/ministry appraisal with two designated leaders from the chaplain’s faith community and two university members (usually from their faith-tradition) to consider their ministry outcomes/goals, and future directions and requirements in ministry.