BUDDHIST CHAPLAINCY SERVICES

Any individual or organization can request the assistance of a Buddhist Chaplain. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you wish to talk to a Buddhist Chaplain.
A Buddhist Chaplain is a person who practices Buddhism (as an ordained or lay person) and who aspires to the path of service - helping and supporting others, both inside and outside Buddhist communities. The work of Buddhist Chaplains is therefore, wide ranging and may include: 

  •     Instruction in Buddhism
  •     Teaching meditation
  •     Running meditation groups in workplaces, universities, hospitals, prisons, etc
  •     Supporting people who are in emotional distress
  •     Caring for the physical needs of others (eg preparing food, caring for children, the sick and elderly)
  •     Supporting communities in times of natural disaster; etc. 

Buddhist Chaplains may work independently, or within an organization, or in a team providing pastoral care (eg in hospitals, hospices and prisons). In Australia most Buddhist Chaplains are volunteers (do not receive any payment for their services). 


CODE OF CONDUCT FOR BUDDHIST CHAPLAINS (Queensland Sangha Association)

1.    Preamble 

A Buddhist Chaplain is a person (ordained or lay) who practises Buddhism and who aspires to the path of service - helping and supporting others, both inside and outside Buddhist communities.

The work of Buddhist Chaplains is wide ranging and may include: teaching meditation; instruction in Buddhism; supporting people who are in emotional distress; caring for the physical needs of others (eg preparing food, caring for children, the sick and elderly); supporting communities in times of natural disaster. This work is carried out throughout the community – in Buddhist temples, centres and groups; in family and friendship groups; and in hospitals, hospices, schools and universities, and volunteer organizations of all types.  

Buddhist Chaplains recognise the need for high ethical standards to be the foundation for their work. They recognise the need for those standards to be explicit and for appropriate ethical guidelines and complaints procedures to be available.  This Code of Ethics seeks to codify the core ethical responsibilities of all Buddhist Chaplains registered by the Queensland Sangha Association (QSA). 
 
At the heart of the work of Buddhist Chaplains are three principles:  Not to create harm. To practice good. To actualize good for others. 
 
Buddhist Chaplains recognise that their ability to live up to the highest standards may not always be perfect, and that they rely on: the compassionate guidance of these principles; a core practice of honest self-reflection; the discernment and counsel of others; a commitment to embody the higher values of Wisdom and Compassion.

2.    Scope of Work 

Buddhist Chaplains who are registered by the QSA will not undertake work that is beyond their training, qualifications and competence. They will consult with others and refer clients appropriately (eg to medical practitioners, counsellors and psychologists, helplines, Buddhist teachers, monks and nuns). 

3.    Non-discrimination 

 Buddhist Chaplains will avoid discrimination, explicit or implicit, on the basis of difference, including in relation to: age, race or ethnicity, nationality, culture, religion, immigration status, political views, disability, gender and gender identification, sexual orientation, parental and family status. 

4.    Mutual Respect and Safety 

Buddhist Chaplains acknowledge that Right Speech and Right Conduct are core values, and undertake to foster relationships of mutual respect and safety, free from bullying, harassment, verbal or physical threat or abuse. Buddhist Chaplains will treat all people with respect and engage with others honestly and compassionately and with a positive intention. 

5.    Boundaries 

Buddhist Chaplains will not violate trust or use power or position for personal gain or self-satisfaction in the course of their work, by crossing personal, emotional, physical, or sexual boundaries in ways that constitute exploitation or abuse. The ultimate responsibility for maintaining appropriate and clear boundaries always rests with the chaplain, and failure to maintain appropriate boundaries constitutes a serious ethical breach.

6.    Confidentiality 

In the course of their work, Buddhist Chaplains will often be privy to personal and private information disclosed by others. A Buddhist Chaplain will maintain the confidentiality of these disclosures under all possible circumstances. Exceptions here will include: where there is a danger that a person will suicide or self- harm; where a person is known or suspected to be a danger to others; where there is a disclosure or suspicion of harm involving children; where there is a legal requirement to disclose. 

7.    Protection of Children and Youth 

Buddhist Chaplains are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people.  Chaplains registered with the QSA will comply with all aspects of the QSA’s Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy and maintain a current Blue Card (unless exempt). Buddhist Chaplains who do not have a current Blue Card will be placed on the Inactive Register. 

In relation to physical contact with children and youth: There are circumstances in which it may be appropriate for Buddhist Chaplains to have physical contact with children or youth, e.g. injury management, correcting posture in meditation, teaching ritual practices. However, Buddhist Chaplains will never engage in inappropriate physical contact with children or youth, for example violent or aggressive behaviour such as hitting, kicking, slapping or pushing; kissing; or touching of a sexual nature.

8.    Criminality
Any Buddhist Chaplain who is convicted of a crime may be de-registered by the QSA. The Management Committee of the QSA will make the final decision in this regard.  

9.    Communication 

Buddhist Chaplains registered with the QSA will maintain contact with the QSA (email address and telephone number). Chaplains who do not maintain contact are liable to be placed on the Inactive register.

10.    Self-Care and Ongoing Training 

Buddhist Chaplains will pay attention to their need for self-care (supportive relationships, adequate rest, participation in Buddhist practices and rituals).  They will also engage in ongoing training to build their knowledge and skill base.  

11.    Complaints 

Complaints regarding ethical breaches by Buddhist Chaplains registered with the Queensland Sangha Association (QSA) should, in the first instance, be discussed with the Chair of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board (BCSB) within the QSA. If the decision from this is to proceed to a formal complaint, the BCSB – or a sub-committee of the BCSB - will investigate the complaint and report their findings to the Management Committee of the QSA. The outcome of this process may include: providing further education and training to a registered Buddhist Chaplain; requiring supervision of a registered Buddhist Chaplain; de-registration of a Buddhist Chaplain; reviewing or developing new policies and procedures; no further action. The BCSB will keep a record of all complaints, including outcomes. 


TRAINING AS A BUDDHIST CHAPLAIN 
The QSA offers training for Buddhist Chaplains via the Buddhist Chaplaincy Qualifying Course which is run annually. This course is a twenty hour program conducted over five weeks and includes: Buddhist approaches to helping and serving others, basic communication and counselling skills, suicide prevention, common mental health conditions seen in the community (and how to refer clients to health professionals), common harms seen in the community (including child abuse, domestic violence, harassment, etc) and how to address these, self-care for chaplains. Students are required to complete practical exercises and a final exam.

Please note – this course is not a professional qualification; it is designed to provide a basic training for people who are volunteers in the community. People who are interested in professional training are advised to consult the following: 

a.    To be a School Chaplains (employed in Queensland schools) – completion of a Certificate IV in Pastoral Care or Youth Work is required - see information at https://education.qld.gov.au/students/student-health-safety-wellbeing/student-support-services/chaplaincy-student-welfare-worker-services

b. To be a Buddhist Chaplains in a Public Hospital or Prisons (usually voluntary work) – completion of a 10 week full time (or 20 week part-time) course in clinical pastoral education is usually required. See the information at  https://qicpe.com/

c.  Tertiary Education in Chaplaincy – see for example, the Masters of Chaplaincy at Murdoch University, W.A. https://www.murdoch.edu.au/study/courses/course-details/Master-of-Chaplaincy-(MChap)#
And postgraduate courses at Nan Tien Institute of Higher Education https://www.nantien.edu.au/

 

QSA REGISTRATION AS A BUDDHIST CHAPLAIN
 
Those who successfully complete the QSA’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Qualifying Course will be invited to commence a path for Registration as a Buddhist Chaplain. 

To be a Buddhist Chaplain registered by the QSA, applicants must: 

  • Have completed the Buddhist Chaplaincy Qualifying Course (or have a qualification deemed equivalent by the Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board)
  • Have completed 50 hours of volunteer work – in an organization, institution, Buddhist temple, centre or group, family or friendship group. The supervisor of this volunteer work is asked to provide a letter stating that this work has been completed to an acceptable standard.
  • Hold a current Queensland government Blue Card (working with children check) or be an exempt person
  • Be recommended for registration by a teacher, monk or nun, or other senior person in the Buddhist community. 
  • Agree to abide by all the rules of the QSA including the Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy and the Code of Conduct for Buddhist Chaplains.

The decision to register a Buddhist Chaplain is made by the QSA on a recommendation from the Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board (BCSB). The BCSB also runs ongoing training workshops for Buddhist chaplains (so that their skills can be regularly updated). 

While registered Buddhist Chaplains operate independently (doing a wide range of volunteer work in the community), they remain subject to management by the QSA. The BCSB maintains a register of Chaplains (and of their Blue Cards) and maintains communication with all registered Chaplains. Complaints about a Buddhist Chaplain can be taken to the BCSB. The BCSB has the authority to remove any person from the register of Buddhist Chaplains. 
 
CHILD AND YOUTH RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES - for Buddhist Chaplaincy Services, Queensland Sangha Association Inc (QSA)

  • Statement of commitment:

The Queensland Sangha Association Inc (QSA) is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people. It will endeavour to provide safe and supportive chaplaincy services for children and young people by ensuring that Buddhist Chaplains registered by the QSA:  are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people;  are recruited, selected, trained, and managed according to high standards; are aware of the measures required to ensure the protection of children and young people in their care; know how to handle disclosures by, and suspicions of harm to, children and young people. 

  • A code of conduct for Buddhist Chaplains – see above 
  • Policies for recruiting, selecting, training and managing Buddhist Chaplains 

The QSA is a non-profit, incorporated, association run by volunteers. Its aim is to serve the needs of Queensland’s Buddhist monks and nuns (and the organisations that support them, such as monasteries and temples). It also provides a general advisory service for Buddhist communities – eg development planning for temples - conducts research, education and training; produces publications; and supports the development of a Buddhist Chaplaincy service. 

A Buddhist Chaplain is a person who practices Buddhism and who aspires to the path of service - helping and supporting others, both inside and outside Buddhist communities. The work of Buddhist Chaplains is therefore, wide ranging and may include: instruction in Buddhism; teaching meditation; supporting people who are in emotional distress; caring for the physical needs of others (eg preparing food, caring for children, the sick and elderly); supporting communities in times of natural disaster; etc. Buddhist Chaplains may work independently, or within an organization, or in a team providing pastoral care (eg in hospitals, hospices and prisons). Buddhist Chaplains are usually volunteers (do not receive any payment for their services). 

In the first instance, the QSA’s recruitment of Buddhist Chaplains occurs via the Buddhist Chaplaincy Qualifying course (a twenty hour training program conducted annually by the QSA). People from the community who want to become Buddhist Chaplains apply for entry to this course and their application is reviewed by the Chair of the QSA’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board (BCSB). Consideration is given to the applicant’s educational qualifications, life and work experience. 

Those selected to undertake the Buddhist Chaplaincy Qualifying Course are trained in: Buddhist approaches to helping and serving others, basic communication and counselling skills, suicide prevention, common mental health conditions seen in the community (and how to refer clients to health professionals), common harms seen in the community (including child abuse, domestic violence, harassment, etc) and how to address these, self-care for chaplains. Students in the course are required to complete practical exercises and a final exam.

Those who successfully complete the Qualifying Course are invited to commence a path for Registration as a Buddhist Chaplain. To be a Buddhist Chaplain registered by the QSA, applicants must: 

  • Have completed the Buddhist Chaplaincy Qualifying Course (or have a qualification deemed equivalent by the Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board)
  • Have completed 50 hours of volunteer work – in an organization, institution, Buddhist temple, centre or group, family or friendship group. The supervisor of this volunteer work is asked to provide a letter stating that this work has been completed to an acceptable standard.
  • Hold a current Queensland Blue Card (or an exemption card)
  • Be recommended for registration by a teacher, monk or nun, or other senior person in the Buddhist community. 
  • Agree to abide by all the rules of the QSA including the Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy and the Code of Conduct for Buddhist Chaplains.

The decision to register a Buddhist Chaplain is made by the QSA on a recommendation from the Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board (BCSB). The BCSB also runs ongoing training workshops for Buddhist chaplains (so that their skills can be regularly updated). 

While registered Buddhist Chaplains operate independently (doing a wide range of volunteer work in the community), they remain subject to management by the QSA. The BCSB maintains a register of Chaplains (and of their Blue Cards) and maintains communication with all registered Chaplains. Complaints about a Buddhist Chaplain can be taken to the BCSB. The BCSB has the authority to remove any person from the register of Buddhist Chaplains. 

 

  • Procedures for handling disclosures and suspicions of harm involving children and youth

All of the QSA’s Registered Buddhist Chaplains, need to respond as quickly as possible to a disclosure or suspicion of harm involving children or youth. 

Harm is defined as ‘any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child's physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing’. Harm can be caused by physical, psychological, or emotional abuse or neglect; or sexual abuse or exploitation (section 9 of the Child Protection Act 1999). A list of General Indicators for Child Abuse and Neglect can be found here: https://www.bluecard.qld.gov.au/pdf/rmst/handling-disclosures-and-suspicions-of-harm.pdf

A disclosure of harm occurs when someone, including a child, tells you about harm that has happened, is happening, or is likely to happen to a child. It is important to act quickly and in the best interests of the child or young person after a disclosure of harm is received, irrespective of the alleged source of harm. What is a ‘suspicion’ of harm? A suspicion of harm is when someone has a reasonable suspicion that a child has suffered, is suffering, or is at an unacceptable risk of suffering, significant harm. 

All of the QSA’s Registered Buddhist Chaplains, have a duty of care to follow up any suspicions of harm or potential risk of harm to children and young people in their care. 

Registered Buddhist Chaplains can suspect harm if: • a child or young person tells you they have been harmed • someone else, for example another child, a parent, or an employee, tells you that harm has occurred or is likely to occur • a child or young person tells you they know someone who has been harmed (it is possible that they may be referring to themselves) • you are concerned at significant changes in the behaviour of a child or young person, or the presence of new unexplained and suspicious injuries, or • you see the harm happening.

When a Buddhist Chaplains receives a disclosure of harm they should:  • remain calm and listen attentively, actively and non-judgementally • ensure there is a private place to talk • encourage the person to talk in their own words and ensure just enough open-ended questions are asked to act protectively (e.g. ‘Can you tell me what happened’…or ‘Can you tell me more about that’). Don’t ask leading questions which tend to suggest an answer. Ensure the person is advised that the disclosure cannot remain a secret and it is necessary to tell someone in order to get help • reassure the person they have done the right thing by telling you • advise the child that you need to tell someone else who can help the child • document the disclosure clearly and accurately, including a detailed description of: − the relevant dates, times, locations and who was present − exactly what the person disclosing said, using “I said,” “they said,” statements − the questions you asked − any comments you made, and − your actions following the disclosure • not attempt to investigate or mediate an outcome, and • follow any relevant process for reporting a disclosure of harm and consider whether there are requirements to report matters to the Queensland Police Service or Child Safety (see below).

Reporting to Police
Where a child is at imminent risk of harm or a child has been the victim of a criminal offence, Buddhist Chaplains should report this to the Queensland Police Service. To contact the Queensland Police Service, Chaplains can contact their nearest Police District Communication Centre (https://www.police.qld.gov.au/forms/contact.asp#districtComms)

If a Buddhist Chaplain believes a child is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation, they should immediately contact the Queensland Police Service by dialling 000. 

Reporting to Child Safety 
Buddhist Chaplains are not Mandatory Reporters under s13A of the Child Protection Act 1999. 

However, child protection is everybody’s responsibility and every person SHOULD report to Child Safety if that person forms a reasonable suspicion that a child (including an unborn child) has suffered, is suffering, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm AND does not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from the harm.

If a Buddhist Chaplain needs to make a report to Child Safety Services, this can be done as follows: • During normal business hours - contact the Regional Intake Service http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety/about-us/contact-us/child-safetyservice-centres/regional-intake-services • After hours and on weekends - contact the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre on 1800 177 135 or (07) 3235 9999. The service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If Buddhist Chaplains are not sure who to call, or for assistance to locate their nearest Child Safety Service Centre, they can contact Child Safety Services' Enquiries Unit on 1800 811 810. 

Child Safety Service Centres have professionally trained child protection staff members who are skilled in dealing with information about harm or risk of harm to children. A person making a report is protected from liability under the Child Protection Act 1999 from civil or criminal legal actions.

  • A plan for managing breaches of the QSA’s child and youth risk management strategy

A breach is defined as any action or inaction that fails to comply with any part of the QSA’s Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy.

The Chair of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Services Board (BCSB) is specifically responsible for the management of breaches by Registered Buddhist Chaplains. The Chair will receive any complaints of breaches by Registered Buddhist Chaplains, talk to all relevant persons, and make a recommendation to the BCSB. The outcome of this process may include:  no action; providing further education and training to a Registered Buddhist Chaplain; requiring supervision of a Registered Buddhist Chaplain; de-registration of a Buddhist Chaplain; reviewing current policies and procedures, and developing new policies and procedures.

The BCSB will keep a record of all breaches, including outcomes.

  • Policies and procedures for compliance with the blue card system

The BCSB maintains the ‘Employee Register’ for all Buddhist Chaplains registered by the QSA; this is in order to keep track of all Blue Card or exemption card holders who are Registered Buddhist Chaplains. 
The BCSB will review, at least annually, the child and youth risk management strategy for Buddhist Chaplains.

  • A risk management plan for high risk activities and special events

In order to minimize or eliminate harm, Registered Buddhist Chaplains who are involved in planning high risk activities or special events with children and youth are strongly advised to consult the information at: https://www.bluecard.qld.gov.au/pdf/rmst/risk-management-plan.pdf

  • Strategies for communication and support

The QSA will communicate and support the Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy by providing:   

  • public information, posted on the QSA website, which details the Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy. 
  • training materials which help all Registered Buddhist Chaplains identify risks of harm and how to handle disclosures or suspicions of harm to children and youth; and which outline the QSA’s risk management strategy.