Pastoral Care and Spiritual Support

Pastoral care and spiritual support is provided by the Navy Chaplaincy Branch to all Navy members and their primary support networks. This service is delivered by Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers. Chaplains are endorsed and accredited religious leaders of faith communities and provide care to Navy people as well as representing and delivering specialist religious ministry to personnel seeking religious support. Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers (MSWOs) are non-religious wellbeing professionals who have a relevant academic background and experience (Social Work, Psychology, Counselling, Occupational Therapists, and Mental Health Nursing etc.) to provide person-centred care to our workforce.

Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers work together as one team to appropriately meet the individual’s spiritual and emotional needs. The aim of this support is to enhance the wellbeing of Navy’s people. The chaplaincy branch’s support encompasses all the ways in which attention is paid to the existential, emotional and spiritual dimensions of life. It includes, but is not limited to, the provision of assessment, counselling, support and ritual (religious and non-religious) in matters of a person’s beliefs, traditions, values and practices enabling the person to access their own spiritual resources and personal resilience.

It is most commonly offered in a one-to-one relationship, is person centred and context dependent. It makes no assumptions or judgements about a person’s beliefs or life orientation. Pastoral care and spiritual support is not about proselytising or pushing a belief system, and it does not seek to impose the practitioner’s beliefs or values on the other. It offers a way for people to experience and make meaning of their hopes and fears. More broadly, its goal is human flourishing.

Navy Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers (MSWOs) acknowledge their unique role in providing service to all Navy members and their families. As a group of wellbeing professionals, we are committed to creating a safe, supportive and caring environment, and we welcome all who seek pastoral care, religious or spiritual support.

Appointment of Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers to the RAN

A Chaplain is a religious capability and must be endorsed by their faith group/denominational Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS) member. An MSWO will be credentialed as a Spiritual Care practitioner through an external agency such as Social Health Australia (SHA).

All nominees for both full time and part time service as Chaplains or Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers with the RAN must pass through normal recruiting channels and are tested for physical fitness, security checks, psychological aptitude, etc. Additionally, Chaplain and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officer candidates are required to pass a Navy Chaplain Assessment Board, where they must demonstrate that they have the knowledge, skills and aptitude to provide pastoral care and spiritual support within the diverse Navy context.

Although not normally required to exercise military command as such, Chaplains are required to progress through a similar range of staff courses as other officers, and are liable for sea service.

Full time Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers will complete the New Entry officers Course (NEOC) which is a 5 month intensive training experience equipping the member with all the skills to succeed as a Naval Officer. Part Time Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers will complete the Reserve Entry Officers Course (REOC). Chaplain's training which consists of two, two-week residential modules, a distance module and a Sea training deployment (approximately 10 days). The advancement of Chaplains and Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers is based on merit and available vacancies under regulations similar to those applicable to any other RAN officer.

Contacting RAN Chaplains

If Navy members or family members find themselves in a crisis situation and require immediate Chaplaincy support, they can contact their local Duty Chaplain on the following numbers:

Regions Mobile
Australian Capital Territory 0420 996 367
New South Wales (Shoalhaven) 0421 687 817
New South Wales (Sydney) 0411 203 618
Northern Territory 0409 662 823
Queensland (Brisbane) 0411 203 618
Queensland (Cairns) 0407 798 472
South Australia 0411 203 618
Tasmania 0411 203 618
Victoria 0417 494 803
Western Australia 0407 212 967