is the healthcare chaplaincy ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia - Presbytery of Western Victoria
is based in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat, but also also supports people & churches across Western Victoria
provides pastoral care to people in Ballarat's healthcare and aged care venues
provides a full-time Chaplain Coordinator to grow, develop and maintain the programs and activities of Chaplaincy
provides 24/7 On Call pastoral availability should the need arise
is served by volunteers from a range of Ballarat's Uniting Church congregations
covers Ballarat Base Hospital and St. John of God Hospital, Ballarat with pastoral visitation
covers many of Ballarat's Aged Care venues (Grampians Health and privately run) with pastoral visitation and monthly church services
The story of healthcare chaplaincy in Ballarat.
The early days...
Chaplaincy has been operating in various formats since 1978. In the late 1970's the Rev. Deacon Bev Pratt was employed jointly by the Ballarat Base Hospital and the Uniting Church. Bev worked as the Chaplain to the hospital, providing regular pastoral support to patients, their families and staff. With a listening ear, a compassionate heart and almost access all areas, Bev provided this care to the hospital community for over 20 years.
After Bev's retirement, the hospital chaplaincy ministry took on a few iterations. Eventually, the Base Hospital moved in a slightly different direction pastorally, choosing to employ a Pastoral Services manager, covering a range of needs within the hospital. The Uniting Church chose to still provide a healthcare and aged care chaplain and did so in a part-time capacity. The Chaplain was a sole practitioner (or should that be soul-practitioner?) until the late 2000's.
A new style...
In the early 2010's the Chaplain - Martin Prewer - transformed the ministry from being one of a sole practitioner to training and supporting a team of volunteers. These volunteers - known as Assistant Chaplains - had pastoral responsibility for a place, such as one of the hospitals or an aged care venue, and would visit their 'place' on a weekly basis. Martin's role now added an element of co-ordination, training and support.
In 2012, Andrew Shearer-Cox became the new Chaplain Coordinator, and in 2013, the position became full-time, with thanks to funding support from the closure of Uniting Church congregations, such as Ballarat West (St. Cuthbert's), Pleasant Street Uniting Church & Wendouree Uniting Church. Since this time, the Chaplaincy ministry has seen the number of volunteers grow, the number of venues covered grow and the variety of ways Chaplaincy seeks to provide pastoral support in the Ballarat community.
Covid-19 and Chaplaincy ...
Like most areas of life and society, Covid-19 has changed the way Chaplaincy relates with people. While some programs are in hiatus until face-to-face connections can resume, Chaplaincy has been able to maintain its connection through online Chapel Services and other video content, and remaining available for End-of-Life pastoral support. In 2022, there were some signs that 'things were returning to normal' as the pandemic restrictions began to ease. Some face-to-face church services have resumed in aged care venues and there are signs that regular pastoral visiting can resume in both of Ballarat's major hospitals.
2023 and beyond ...
As face-to-face pastoral support increases, the Chaplaincy ministry will be working in conjunction with the Ballarat Base Hospital and ecumenical partners to provide a quality Pastoral Care Visiting program at the Base - with the possibility of this being replicated in other parts of the region.
In 2023, the Ballarat Regional Healthcare Chaplaincy ministry will acknowledge 45 years of providing pastoral support to Ballarat and the region. We're looking forward to finding ways to celebrate this. We're also looking forward to increasing our ability to provide pastoral support face-to-face, and integrate this with the digital content we provide.
Also in 2023, Chaplaincy has partnered with Grampians Health - Ballarat Base Hospital (GH-Base) to create the Pastoral Care Visitors program. Chaplaincy has connected with the Base AND other local Christian churches to develop a team of volunteer pastoral visitors who each look after a ward. PCV's visit weekly and are available to anyone & everyone - regardless of religion or faith.
BRHC acknowledges the contribution of the former congregation of Pleasant Street Uniting Church in the creation of this website. BRHC operates on primarily on Waddawarrung Country. We pay our respects to their Elders - past, present and emerging.