ADF chaplaincy is adapting to new situations to deliver multi-faith support to all people, regardless of their spiritual or religious beliefs.

Multi-faith chaplaincy proved a valuable support tool on Operation Accordion recently when the ADF sheltered thousands of Afghanistan evacuees at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East.

Islamic Imam, Royal Australian Navy Chaplain Majidih Essa, held Friday prayers and daily services for the Afghanistan evacuees waiting for flights to Australia.

“It was my first Friday prayer I’ve conducted in the ADF,” Chaplain Essa said.

“Under the circumstances of the congregation, they were very supportive and happy that we were able to conduct Friday prayer for them.”

Chaplain Essa also supported ADF personnel on deployment as well as the Afghanistan evacuees.

Chaplain Kevin O’Sullivan, who was deployed to the Middle East region supporting ADF personnel on operations in the area, said the ADF’s multi-faith approach was important for a few different reasons.

“The ADF has a lot of people from different backgrounds now. Australia is a very multinational, pluralistic country and it’s important that we have everyone’s faith represented,” Chaplain O’Sullivan said.

“The best way to understand our role is that we look after people – the wellbeing of the spirit. When we talk about spirit we’re talking about the notion of culture, values, ethics and morale.”

Chaplain Essa described it as an honour to “serve in the ADF and also be able to serve mankind”.

“It’s not about where you come from or the colour of your skin – you are a human being first and foremost and it is our duty as human beings to assist,” he said.

“I can say each and every person coming off the aircraft had a story. 

“Just to listen to them, to be there and give them hope that they are going to a good country where they will be safe and there will be support for them – when they heard those words, it put some peace and tranquillity into their hearts.”

Chaplain O’Sullivan echoed that sentiment, saying: “It’s been really wonderful to be able to journey with those people and give them a sense that everything will be okay”. 

ADF chaplains – what they do:

•ADF chaplains respect the freedom of conscience and religious perspectives, and they assist all members of the ADF, regardless of faith expression (or none). Chaplaincy services foster the development of the individual’s total wellbeing.

•The primary focus of pastoral care is nurturing the living, honouring the dead, and caring for the sick or wounded.

•ADF chaplains provide specialist advice to commanders on general welfare, spiritual and religious matters, ethical matters, morale, welfare and cultural matters.

•They provide chaplaincy support to critical-incident mental health support and other critical incidents, in conjunction with medical and psychological services critical-incident support, including mental health first aid and suicide prevention.

•ADF chaplains provide support to civilian and military cooperation, and in particular, spiritual and pastoral support to refugees and displaced persons.

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