“Federal funding is never secure, so our passionate and proactive volunteer chaplaincy committee ensures that the program can continue to run across both schools in Mirboo North.”Paula Calafiore.
In 2003 a group of teachers and local community members established a volunteer Chaplaincy Committee aiming to secure ongoing chaplaincy services to both Mirboo North’s primary and secondary schools. It wanted to ensure they could continue to assist youth at school in all aspects of their own well-being.
‘If it wasn’t for Norm’
In 2019, the committee is still going strong, continuing to fundraise and seek donations for its successful Mirboo North Schools Chaplaincy Program. It has been strengthening and expanding its support of wellbeing both within the school and forming a strong bond with people in the community over the last 16 years, with it’s School Chaplain, Norm De Silva, becoming a friendly face and invested personality in Mirboo North.
Creating the chaplaincy fund
Because the chaplaincy role within schools has had such a positive impact on families and individuals, Mirboo North Schools Chaplaincy decided to open up donations from the community as well, setting up the “Mirboo North Schools Chaplaincy and Well-being Fund” with the Community Foundation. The Foundation also donated $50 for each new donor who came on board. This helps to secure chaplaincy and well-being programs for young people in the district and our school community. The chaplaincy fund can now receive donations and voice tax deductible receipts.
As a teacher at Mirboo North Primary School Paula Calafiore says that the chaplaincy program that operated between the local primary and secondary school speaks for itself.
“Parents, staff, community members and children value the program. We have been lucky to have really a really invested Chaplain in Norm, who provides his support throughout the community and everyone knows him,” says Paula, who has been on the committee for Chaplaincy for the past 14 years.
Paula emphasises that the program is about counselling kids and families through rural hardships such as economic problems, divorce, friendships at school, even rural road trauma. “The kids know that whatever their problems are, big or small, that they have a supportive ear that can help them in the Chaplaincy program. They seek him out and they see him as a friend now,” says Paula.
The volunteer committee has successfully fundraised over the years with activities such as sausage sizzles, coin tins named ‘change for chaplaincy’, online auctions, Arty Gras book and plant sale.” Paula says this fundraising has helped keep the program running, so its not completely reliant on government funding.
“The amount of people over the last 16 years that have said to me ‘if it wasn’t’ for Norm’ gives me the drive to keep on fundraising for the program. The Chaplaincy program then supported the primary school immensely in securing funding to kit out a sensory room. This aligns with our dedication to student well being in the school and making sure that all kids feel included,” Paula finished.
Furnishing the sensory room
Mirboo North Schools Chaplaincy applied to the Community Foundation for a grant to enhance the Sensory Room, with the aim of assisting in meeting the ongoing well-being needs of students and the wider community in this newly developed inclusive learning space. The grant provided furniture and sensory equipment for the room.
The space now allows for the Chaplain and school staff to work in a physical environment where the philosophy of inclusive education is practiced daily and all students are empowered with the ability to self-regulate their emotions, improve their emotional health, increase self-confidence and experience a learning environment that meets their individual needs.
Mirboo North Schools Chaplaincy Program
The Chaplaincy program in Mirboo North has been operating for 16 years under the guidance of our friendly Chaplain Norm De Silva. Norm is a local identity that makes an effort to meet and support many people from the community, as well as providing his expertise to student body well-being.
The Chaplaincy committee is committed to securing ongoing chaplaincy to both the schools and to assisting youth at MNPS and MNSC in other aspects of their well-being. This includes providing a welcoming and inclusive learning experience for all students, whether you have a disability, a learning difference or need wellbeing support.