Many Australians have been through an extended period of uncertainty and stress in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions including border closures.
As Christmas approaches, people across the country may also be affected by extreme weather conditions – such as bushfires or flooding – over the summer months.
Chaplaincy Australia National Director Ralph Estherby told me that 1800Chaplain (1800 24 27 52) is a phone line that is available for every person in Australia to call, to receive pastoral care and chaplaincy support.
At the hotline’s heart is a vision to provide chaplaincy care to people outside the normal scope of where chaplains can reach, particularly in light of the strain on existing mental health phone services such as Lifeline during the pandemic.
The phone line is currently available every day of the year, from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm AEST (2:00 pm to 10:00 pm AEDT), but Mr Estherby says the goal in 2022 is for 1800Chaplain to become accessible for 16 hours a day. He says the chaplains are ready to deal with callers who have reached crisis point, but are hoping to reach people early in their struggle.
“We are much more aiming at preventative pastoral care, just where people need to have a chat – they’re lonely, they’re confused, they’re struggling with a relationship that they’re in, or maybe they’ve lost their job or they’re dealing with issues around COVID. Whatever the subject may be, we want to be able to help them explore their options and help them find their way forward,” he says.
Mr Estherby is urging people not to hesitate to call 1800Chaplain, and to spread the word about this new service.
“I would encourage anyone to call; you’ll find that [the chaplains] are open, friendly, non-judgemental, and they’re very open to help people find the support that they need.
“If you don’t need to call 1800Chaplain, you probably know someone that does.”
Mr Estherby is seeking the support of the community to help 1800Chaplain to expand its operations, whether by prayer, donations, or becoming a phone chaplain.
For more information, visit 1800chaplain.com
Listen to the interview with Ralph in the audio player above.