Disaster and Recovery Ministries
Disaster and Recovery Ministries is an increasingly multifaith ministry in South Australia. It's about providing pastoral care for communities who are recovering from disasters,whether natural (bushfires, floods, severe storms etc) or those of human origin (large workplace or transport accident, terrorist attack etc).
What is Disaster and Recovery Ministries?
In South Australia an multifaith network of chaplains has been established to assist people who have been affected by disasters and major emergencies within their communities. The Uniting Church coordinates this network known as Disaster and Recovery Ministries across the state, operating under a Memorandum of Understanding with the SA Government and in partnership with other participating organisations. While other services and groups will aid in taking care of people’s physical and emotional needs, chaplaincy seeks to support people’s spiritual and pastoral needs.
A Coordinating Committee has oversight of the operations of this ministry.
What is the role of DRM?
When disasters strike, people are affected in every aspect of their lives: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Issues of meaning, justice, forgiveness, hope and worldview have spiritual elements. These are all challenged at a time of major loss, and many people connect these things with their own faith or spirituality. Holistic care should allow for pastoral and spiritual care and comfort in this context.
Disaster & Recovery Ministries Chaplains:
- Provide pastoral presence and spiritual support to people and communities following disasters. This usually happens in Relief Centres, Recovery Centres and on follow up outreach visits throughout the community.
- Participate in recovery activities in the affected community.
- Provide resources, training and support to local faith leaders as they, in turn, support their communities in recovery.
Who are the Chaplains?
Our chaplaincy team consists of volunteer chaplains from a range of faiths. Some chaplains are ordained in their own faith tradition, while others are suitable people with a pastoral heart and skills; many of our chaplains also work as Pastoral Care Workers in schools around the state. Chaplains must be nominated by leaders of their faith community and deemed to be suitable in nature for this ministry. Chaplains must have current Working with Children Checks and Police Clearance, and will adhere to our Code of Ethics and Guiding Principles.
All our chaplains undertake an intensive training course which seeks to equip them with the best skills to offer pastoral and spiritual support to disaster-affected people. Areas covered include pastoral care, the nature of compassion, phases of recovery, calming strategies, spiritual issues in trauma and the ministry of presence. Skills in caring for traumatised people are useful in a range of pastoral situations within faith groups and in the wider community.
Our chaplains bring a listening ear and let people tell their story. They are non-judgemental and refrain from preaching or telling people what to do. Their focus is on care, comfort and offering a ministry of presence to people in need.