Counselling and Religion

The purpose of the RAN's Chaplaincy Branch is to attend to the spiritual needs of members of the Navy, and to provide the opportunity and facilities for the proper observance of the practice of religion. When young men and women enter the Navy, they are separated from the influence of home and the local place of worship with which they have been associated. RAN Chaplains are required to provide a religious ministry which is comprehensive and is a highly specialised field of pastoral care. They provide the ministry on behalf of the Church in which they are ordained. Additionally, because of the many different religious traditions and faith groups found within the military environment, a Navy Chaplain must also facilitate religious ministry and effective pastoral care for all RAN personnel even if they do not identify with the Chaplain's own church, or indeed with any formal faith or church. The highly mobile lifestyle of Navy families often results in only temporary attachment to local churches, therefore, more reliance is often placed on Navy Chaplains to provide pastoral care, personal guidance and help in crisis situations, and calls for assistance with family occasions such as marriages, baptisms and funerals.

Development of Character and Morale

It is important to both the member and the Navy that ample opportunity is given for spiritual development. The personal qualities of character which ensure high standards of conduct and which inspire courage and self-sacrifice in a crisis can be developed by religious faith. Navy Chaplains conduct special courses on behalf of the RAN which are designed to develop the personal character, integrity and leadership of the Navy's young men and women.

Grief Counselling, Suicide, Critical Incident Stress Management Teams

In addition to the day to day pastoral care provided, Navy Chaplains undertake training for the highly specialised type of counselling required during and after major crises, and may be nominated members of RAN Critical Incident Stress Management Teams (CISM).

Religious Advisory Committee to the Services

The relationship between the Churches and the RAN is set out in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) agreed between the Australian Defence Force and the Heads of Churches. This MOA provides for a Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS), consisting of six very senior ministers from the various denominations and faiths who advise HQADF on all aspects of the practice of religion in the ADF. In addition, RACS assess the suitability and endorse the professional credentials of all ministers who apply for admission to the Regular and Reserve forces of the ADF as a Chaplain.

Appointment of Chaplains to the RAN

Following endorsement by RACS, all nominees for both full time and part time service as Chaplains with the  RAN must pass through normal recruiting channels and are tested for physical fitness, security checks, psychological aptitude, etc. Although not normally required to exercise military command as such, Chaplains are required to progress through a similar range of staff courses as other officers, and are liable for sea service. New Entry Reserve Chaplain's training is divided into six phases, and is undertaken over two years. Chaplains appointed to full time service in the RAN undergo initial training identical with that of other qualified professionals coming into the RAN as direct entry officers. Promotion of Chaplains is based on merit and available vacancies under regulations similar to those applicable to any other RAN officer. Those on full time service are required to contribute to military superannuation schemes.

Contacting RAN Chaplains

If Navy members or family members find themselves in a crisis situation and require immediate Chaplaincy support, they can contact their local Duty Chaplain on the following numbers:

Base Mobile Area of Responsibility
HMAS Albatross 0421 687 817 New South Wales - Shoalhaven
HMAS Cairns 0409 586 238 Queensland
HMAS Cerberus 0417 494 803 Victoria / Tasmania / South Australia
HMAS Coonawarra 0409 662 823 Northern Territory
HMAS Creswell 0434 229 659 Jervis Bay / Shoalhaven
HMAS Harman 0420 981 275 Canberra Region
HMAS Kuttabul 0411 203 618 Sydney / New South Wales
HMAS Stirling 0407 212 967 Western Australia
NHQ-SQ 0437 254 487 Queensland