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Pastoral Care

Pastoral Care: what is it?

Pastoral Care is a holistic profession that delivers a service to staff and students who are experiencing difficulty in their personal and/or professional lives. Some may have tried counselling and found it unsatisfactory, or need something different. Some clients prefer not to attend counselling for a variety of reasons, but still need someone to listen or simply to connect them with other appropriate services. The Pastoral Care office fulfils these needs and is available on campus to all students and staff on an on-call basis.

Pastoral Care workers are professionals trained and accredited in Clinical Pastoral Education. Like Counsellors, Pastoral Care workers provide a safe, confidential environment for their clients and ideally work with other professionals to achieve the best outcome for their clients. Pastoral Care workers allow clients to express themselves and their needs in a trusted space. Pastoral Care focuses on empowering individuals to resolve their difficulties through a process of encouragement, support, active listening and the formation of an ongoing, strategic relationship. Clients are supported in building resilience and self-sufficiency.


Contemporary professional Pastoral Care workers need to be able to operate in a dogma free zone, although many are qualified Chaplains associated with particular religious groups. Pastoral care workers operate from the basis of common humanity and inclusiveness. They aim to assist individuals find meaning in life and hope for their future, without determining a particular path or outcome, and are patient in allowing individuals to choose how and when they share the nature of their issues.

The Pastoral Care model is based on enabling clients to resolve their concerns, not rescuing the client or providing solutions. Workers actively assist clients in coming to terms with their own values, and support clients to work within an inclusive framework. Pastoral Care workers are not limited to consulting in the office environment, but engage proactively with the campus community.

Issues - some of the issues addressed in Pastoral Care are:

  • Stress
  • Financial difficulties
  • Substance addiction
  • Grief and loss
  • Isolation and loneliness (homesickness)
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Depression
  • Trans-cultural issues
  • The meaning of life

Activities - a Pastoral Care worker:

  • Acts as a gatekeeper and conduit, referring the client to appropriate colleagues within the University (eg. Study Skills, Health Care Professionals, International Student Advisors, etc) and the wider community (eg Relationships Australia, Legal Aid, Women's Referral Centre, Financial Counsellors, etc.)
  • Acts as an advocate, ie. speaking on behalf of clients when they are unable to express themselves
  • Allows clients to monitor frequency of consultations
  • Is always mindful of the duty of care if the client is unsafe to themselves or others
  • Is available after hours

Outcomes - Pastoral Care workers:

  • Enable clients to take appropriate action
  • Build resilience and coping strategies
  • Enable staff and students to flourish on-campus

Pastoral Care at University of Canberra

There are trained pastoral care workers available through the Multi-faith Centre.

No appointment is required. If you need a place to go where you can sit and be heard or simply need a quiet and peaceful place to meditate, reflect or feel safe, please drop in.

The Multi-faith Centre is located in Building 1 in Rooms 1C100 (Contemplation Space) and 1C104 (Chaplains' Office).

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