Life Saving Chaplaincy growth in South Australia:
From Left: Daniel Scadden, Joe Gray, Bandy Edwards, Bruce Rankin & Paul Kingham
Since 2014 there has been a rapid upswing in the appointment of Chaplains to Surf Life Saving Clubs in South Australia.
Life Saving is a sport, which also has a valuable community service to perform, and it is when performing this service that lifesavers can be exposed to traumatic incidence, surrounding rescues and accidents. A lifesaver is trained to attempt rescues regardless of the circumstances, and they push through their own fear to do this. Whether the rescue is successful or not lifesavers are affected emotionally. The need for ongoing support is therefore essential to the well being of the lifesavers, and ensures that they remain a valuable ongoing member of their club.
This is where Life Saving Chaplaincy has been recognised to fulfill a need that cannot normally be done by office bearers within the club. Critical incidents require support at the time of the incident, through the review process and also with “one on one” sessions, and most importantly, long term follow up and observation. The need for lifesavers to confidentially discuss their concerns cannot be underestimated. This needs to be done away from their peers. What will appear to be a small issue to others could be a huge issue for the individual, and someone outside the official structure that can be trusted is necessary. This is where chaplains can best serve, and clubs are recognising this.
Russ Harmon of Life Saving Chaplaincy Australia(LSCA) and Roger Johnson from Sports Chaplaincy Australia(SCA) South Australia where approaching Life Saving Clubs within South Australia highlighting the benefits of a Chaplain within their clubs. The Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club, which patrols one of the busiest tourist beaches in suburban Adelaide, was the first club to embrace the role of a Chaplain with the appointment of Paul Kingham as their Chaplain in 2014.
Since that time God has opened doors that no one could have predicted. The Henley Surf Life Saving Club appointed a chaplain in 2015 and then Surf Life Saving South Australia embraced the need with the appointment of Bandy Edwards to the role of State Surf Life Saving Chaplain.
Suddenly, the lifesaving community had people to turn to. At the very first life saving carnival, which Bandy attended in his new role, he was confronted with a suicide issue and a family conflict. The need is there, it just requires a chaplain to be present.
Bandy is also on the initial phone call list when a critical incident occurs on any of the beaches. To highlight the importance of this; there was a rescue at a local club and Bandy was notified straight away and a Chaplain was at that club before the patrol had left the beach, ready to support in whatever way was necessary.
The lifesaving community soon saw the part that Chaplains can play in their club. By being present, observing and then serving in whatever way needed, Chaplains have demonstrated to the lifesaving in South Australia, that living out their faith through humble service can be of immense benefit to all its members.
Further Chaplains where appointed at the Seacliff, West Beach and Aldinga Bay clubs during early 2016. From no surf lifesaving Chaplains in early 2014 to 6 in 2016 is remarkable. More clubs are now interested in making appointments in the near future.
A mustard seed was planted and now the tree is growing.
The background to some of these appointments are great stories of how God has moved within this community.