Wednesday 25 March 2020

Wellbeing and Pastoral Care

Over the past week, we have seen some remarkable changes to our school environment with students and teachers moving to online learning with enthusiasm and positivity. We know that as a community we are capable of anything when we work together.

The school is committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of our community particularly during these unusual and challenging times. Students can access our team of chaplains, psychologists, school nurses, staff mentors, pastoral care and wellbeing infrastructure all with the aim to prevent mental health issues and deal with those that do arise.

Each campus also has a psychologist and school nurse, and year level leaders undergo mental health training. Senior students have a staff mentor and attend wellbeing sessions. Prevention is key and the aim is to create an environment where students feel engaged and safe in expressing themselves. Students also have access to a wellbeing app and a website SchoolTV

We would like to introduce you to our two new chaplains, Rebecca Gaskell and John Sanderson. The Rev’d John Sanderson is based at The Ridgeway Campus and Mrs Rebecca Gaskell is at Plenty Campus. They join longstanding The Ridgeway Campus Lay Chaplain Andrew Fox and Buckley House Chaplain Pieter Keuneman. Chaplains nurture students’ spiritual, emotional and social health, while contributing to the School’s spiritual tone

A world of experience

Senior Chaplain the Rev’d John Sanderson is Priest in Charge at St George’s Anglican Church in East Ivanhoe. His part-time school role complements the existing Wellbeing Team.

John is a senior Australian Defence Force Chaplain and his varied experience includes work in law enforcement, the public service, health care and telecommunications.

‘I’ve always been a collaborative team person,’ he says. ‘I’m a great believer in teamwork and communication.’

John is available to students and staff across campuses. He aims to complement the existing program, build relationships and enhance prevention measures.

‘I’m one of a number of people that students or staff or parents can approach for a conversation about anything in their life,’ he says. ‘It’s a team-based approach to care.’

A proactive approach

Plenty Campus Lay Chaplain Rebecca Gaskell brings a wealth of experience as a Christian youth worker, chaplain and mother of three young boys.

Rebecca attended a Baptist Church with her husband for 10 years and is now part of Australian Christian Churches.

Her Chapel sessions have a modern approach and are tailored to each year level, with students surveyed to see what they want.

‘It’s very much a holistic approach,’ she says. ‘I’m a passionate believer in Jesus, but I want them to know how it relates in 2020.’

Rebecca and John both want students to engage with Chapel and the Wellbeing Program rather than wait until they have a problem – and seek help early if they do.

As part of this, Rebecca has come up with new initiatives such as a VCE to cater to students who can visit at lunch time to enjoy a hot chocolate, play card games, build relationships and simply chat.

‘I really want to … set them up to succeed and model how to do mental health well,’ she says. I’m part ‘of the scene’ and we chat about life just generally – the good times and the hard times.’

Life in the 2020s

During these unusual and challenging times our chaplains, John and Rebecca are here to provide support for our families.

School Chaplains offer students the opportunity to take time out, discuss what’s happening in their life and have strategies to cope if needed. ‘We want them to enjoy their time at school,’ Rebecca says. ‘It’s a special space and time of life.’

John says those who might have a problem need to recognise it and act early to seek help. It’s then important to embrace any resulting mental health action plan.

‘Recognise there’s a problem and seek help early,’ he says. ‘Work in partnership with people who can support you and enhance the plan that comes out of these relationships.’

If you want to get in touch with either John or Rebecca their contact details are below.

John Sanderson or 0408 130 864

Rebeca Gaskell