YouthCARE chaplain program vital for Busselton students

West Busselton Primary School principal Jamie Adair, City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley and school chaplain Linda Roney.
West Busselton Primary School principal Jamie Adair, City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley and school chaplain Linda Roney.

The YouthCARE school chaplain program has now been supported by the City of Busselton for 10 years, it offers essential social, emotional, mental and spiritual support services to students, teachers and family members.

There are currently six YouthCARE chaplains in the Busselton region providing chaplaincy services to seven schools.

The biggest topics of conversation for students with a chaplain were peer relationships, family relationships and mental health.

This support helps students achieve their potential both academically and in their social and family lives.

The chaplains are qualified and trained to deliver a large number of proactive and preventative programs as well as one-on-one pastoral conversations.

Breakfast club is one of the biggest programs run in WA state schools, often through the YouthCARE chaplain.

These clubs allow schools to provide breakfast to students which has resulted in an increase in student performance in the class room.

These clubs also allow chaplains to meet with students in a relaxed environment where they can build relationships and set students up for a productive day.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said YouthCARE had also been one of the recipients of the mayor's prayer breakfast and the breakfast club was a real passion of his.

"It is so imperative that children get nutrition at the start of the day so they could go to school and focus, and not be distracted by empty stomachs," he said.

Mr Henley said when he first joined council there had been funding cuts to the program which impacted on the program being run in local schools.

"The council at the time determined it was a project that should not be curtailed because of its good outcomes," he said.

West Busselton Primary School principal Jamie Adair said the chaplains played an extensive role, which included meeting and greeting children as they arrived.

Mr Adair said because of that contact it was often the school chaplains who knew which children needed an extra layer of support.

"Many of our children will just approach the chaplains during the day, there is often a queue of children who wanted to talk and it could be anything from unhappiness because of friendship issues or grief and loss as well," he said.

"We value the city's support tremendously and also the partnership with YouthCARE because we have managed to double our chaplaincy in terms of bodies.

"We have two chaplains who both work two days a week."