A joint program with the school and Scriputure Union provides a Chaplain who works part-time at the school, and can be accessed by students if they need personal guidance or assistance in coping with the pressures of adolescence. The Chaplain works with individuals and in a whole class situation.
Today School Chaplains are found in 63% of all Queensland state primary schools and in 88% of all state high schools. Each week more than 400,000 young people have access to a school chaplain.
Chaplains are in the prevention and support business: helping students find a better way to deal with issues ranging from family breakdown and loneliness, to drug abuse, depression and anxiety.
Chappies provide a listening ear and a caring presence for children and young people in crisis, and those who just need a friend. They also provide support for staff and parents in school communities, and run programs and activities to foster inclusivity and a positive culture in schools.
Here in Oakey, long before Government funding was provided for school chaplaincy, a dedicated community team spent two years fundraising to provide a school chaplain for Oakey State High School. Their relentless efforts led to the appointment of Oakey's first school chaplain in 1995 when Howard Savage was employed on a part time basis.
Despite some financial shortfalls and lack of candidates leading to some disruptions to the service from time to time, Oakey High has been fortunate to have had a chaplaincy service for most of the last 25 years making us one of very few Queensland state schools to have enjoyed that privilege. This would not have been possible without incredible and continuous support from the Oakey and district community.
Today school chaplaincy is funded through a combination of government grants, fundraising and community donations. This support is an important part of ensuring continued service to students and school communities.
In 2013, when Justin Trigg returned to high school chaplaincy duties in Oakey for a second time, Oakey primary school was added to his responsibilities. The local chaplaincy committee which supports the school chaplain was rebranded Oakey Combined Chaplaincy Committee.
In January 2014, Sharon Salomon became a chaplain in Oakey sharing the role with Justin Trigg that year. Since the beginning of 2015, Chappy Sharon has been the sole chaplain to both schools, and is a valued member of both schools' wellbeing teams, and the wider school communities. In December 2019, Sharon became our longest serving school chaplain in Oakey.
Sharon loves our young people and spending time with them. A mum of six, she is no stranger to adolescent communication and interaction, and is passionate about being there for our students and their families. She is also a wonderful support to school staff.
“I love the kids. I just love being around them", says Sharon.
“I love listening to their stories, I love that I can be a support to them in this next stage of their life, and see them grow in the way they need to grow".