Chap­lain serves for 22 years

Matt Brady out­lines role help­ing Burn­side stu­dents

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - LIFE - Jes­sica Bahr Jes­sica.Bahr@sc­news.com.au

FOR chil­dren go­ing through a tough time, hav­ing an adult to rely on and open up to can make a world of dif­fer­ence.

That’s where Matt Brady comes in.

Mr Brady has been the chap­lain at Burn­side State High School for the past 22 years, mak­ing him not only one of the long­est serv­ing staff mem­bers but also the long­est serv­ing chap­lain in the state.

While school chap­lains are known for the role of pro­vid­ing spir­i­tual and emo­tional guid­ance, Mr Brady goes above and be­yond to con­nect with stu­dents and help them en­gage.

“I run groups for young peo­ple and a trek pro­gram which is largely ad­ven­ture based learn­ing,” he said.

“I have be­come a bush­walk­ing and climb­ing guide to fa­cil­i­tate the pro­gram, and we do things like rock climb­ing, ab­seil­ing, a three day trek, and look at is­sues in a fun and en­gag­ing way.

“That prob­a­bly takes up about 50% of my time, and then 40% would be talk­ing one on one with stu­dents and then a bit at­tend­ing school events and things like that.

“Chap­laincy re­lies on com­mu­nity fund­ing a lot ... we get some from the gov­ern­ment but it is quite limited ... that’s al­ways a chal­lenge.”

Prior to un­der­tak­ing the role of chap­lain, Mr Brady was work­ing with youth or­gan­i­sa­tion Teen Chal­lenge be­fore work­ing as a re­li­gious educ­tion teacher and vol­un­teer­ing as a youth worker.

When he heard about chap­laincy, he knew it would be a per­fect fit for him.

“I had ex­pe­ri­ence with re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion and young peo­ple, and the role came up here at Burn­side and I got it,” he said.

“Chap­laincy was very small back then.

“The first thing I did was start a group for at risk kids ... one thing I get a lot is that we aren’t seen as part of the au­thor­ity struc­ture so they of­ten feel more com­fort­able talk­ing to us.

“An­other is­sue is a lot of kids do re­ally want to talk about and ex­plore spir­i­tual stuff and for those kids it is a re­ally im­por­tant part of life for those who do want to ex­plore it. I think that’s the thing chap­laincy has that is dif­fer­ent to other youth worker po­si­tions.”

While some things have changed over the years, his in­fi­nite value as a men­tor and sup­port for stu­dents has re­mained.

“One thing that has changed is not the level of dys­func­tion, but the amount and per­cent­age has in­creased since I started,” he said.

“It is very sad.

“We do what we can and some­times it is enough.”

If you would like to do­nate to school chap­laincy, con­tact Matt on 0412 137 748.

We aren’t seen as part of the au­thor­ity struc­ture, so they of­ten feel more com­fort­able talk­ing to us. — Matt Brady.

PHOTO: PA­TRICK WOODS

DED­I­CATED: Matt Brady has been work­ing as the chap­lin at Burn­side State High School.

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