Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Updating our relationship with Defence chaplaincy

The Uniting Church has signed a new Memorandum of Arrangements with the Commonwealth Department of Defence over Military Chaplains.

Rev. Dr Murray Earl on behalf of the Uniting Church signed the Memorandum of Arrangements (MoA) with the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell AO, DSC.

The relationship between the Commonwealth of Australia and major religious groups has been updated.

This relationship is managed through the Chief of the Defence Force and the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS), through a long-term MOA.

The MoA has included Christian and Jewish members for many years.

On 12 June 2019 the MoA was updated to include Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. A Sikh member is being sought.

The updated agreement recognises that the religious, spiritual and pastoral needs of all Australian Defence Force (ADF) members is a matter of the highest importance and demonstrates Defence’s continued commitment to ensuring provision is made for all ADF members, to practice their faith within operational constraints.

General Campbell at the signing, said, ‘Physical, mental and spiritual health are essential for the building of ADF capability through its people. In an increasingly multicultural ADF, it is important that the ADF is able to meet the service related spiritual and religious needs of all its members’.

The Commonwealth through CDF’s office has maintained a relationship with Religious Institutions since the early 1900s.

In 1981, the committee was renamed and updated as RACS.

The committee is to provide advice to the ADF on religious matters and to recruit and accredit ADF Chaplains.

Chaplains provide religious services on behalf of their Faith Group, source other Faith Group advice as required, and care for all members, religious or not. Further chaplains provide guidance and advice for Command and all ADF personnel and their families on religion, religious practices and spirituality. The ethical life in war and peace is inherent to the work of ADF Chaplaincy.

RACS recognises the operational environment within which ADF members are employed.

It is essential for building capability through its personnel that the ADF is able to meet the service related spiritual and religious needs of all its members.

RACS enables the building of this capability through ongoing and collaborative engagement with the ADF.

In the recruitment of suitable religious ministers to serve as chaplains, RACS ensures such chaplains can serve in a multi-faith environment at home and abroad.

The updated MoA continues the relationship between the Commonwealth and respective Faith Groups in the service of the nation.