Demand for non-religious ‘chaplains’ growing

Meredith Doig / 01 September 2020

Humanists Victoria and the ACT Humanist Society (ACTHS) have jointly released initial results from their survey of people’s preferences for the provision of non-religious support similar to what a chaplain would traditionally provide.

Using the professional services of Dynata, a representative sample of one thousand adult Australians were asked “Please imagine you were either in or visiting someone at a hospital, prison, or university and there was both a chaplaincy service and a non-religious pastoral support service available. If you felt unhappy, distressed or concerned, how likely or unlikely do you think you would be to access support from (a) – A chaplain or (b) – A non-religious pastoral support provider?” They were also asked, “Do you identify as non-religious?” 

The results clearly showed that most non-religious people would much prefer to access a non-religious provider.

Interestingly, religious people are less likely to differentiate. Furthermore, over 60% of people agreed with the idea of employing non-religious pastoral support workers, and less than 20% disagreed.

With the number of non-religious people in Australia growing rapidly this survey shows there is definitely demand for non-religious pastoral support providers.

Social Health Australia, the spin-off from our Secular Spiritual Care Network project, has recently convened a national taskforce at the request of the Royal Australian Navy and in conjunction with other potential users, which will establish standards and a model for vetting the competencies of secular spiritual care practitioners.

All the more reason.

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