Guidelines for University Chaplaincy at the University of Sydney

This information is taken from the document Guidelines for University Chaplaincy at the University of Sydney published 11th September 2006.


The University is a community which, like any other community, reflects the personal, intellectual, social and spiritual dimensions of life. In this context, the University offers staff and students the opportunity to seek the assistance of Chaplains.

The Guidelines are to assist and encourage the work of Chaplains. They are intended to be flexible, relating both to the use of the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre and to the co-existence of different religious groups on campus.

The purpose of the Guidelines is to clarify mutual understanding in the following areas:

  1. the relationship between the Chaplains and the University;
  2. the role of Chaplains;
  3. the relationship between the Chaplains and associated campus religious organisations;
  4. facilities provided by the University for Chaplains and associated campus religious organisations using the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre;
  5. review of these Guidelines.

1. Relationship between the Chaplains and the University

  1. Chaplains are nominated by the authorities of recognised religious bodies. The University accepts nominations of Chaplains to the University campus and Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre only from those organisations which formally have been declared to be religious denominations in accordance with the provisions of s.26 of the Commonwealth Marriage Act, 1961 (as amended).
  2. Nominated Chaplains are formally recognised by the University through the Registrar. They are accountable to their nominating religious body and are not employees of the University.
  3. It is the responsibility of a Nominated Chaplain, within their role with the University, to be familiar, compliant with and supportive of University policy, including the Staff and Student Codes of Conduct and the Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policies and Resolution Procedure. The Codes of Conduct and policies can be found on the University's web site at:
  4. The recognition of a Chaplain by the University presupposes that both the nominating religious body and the proposed Chaplain accept these Guidelines as the basis for their work within the University. It is expected that both the nominating body and the proposed Chaplain will conduct their activities within ethical bounds of honesty and integrity.
  5. The Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre will report annually to the University via the Director, Student Services. Each Chaplain is encouraged to report annually to his/her respective religious authority. The Chaplains will liaise with the University through the Director, Student Services.
  6. There shall be a Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre Committee composed of all the Chaplains officially recognised by the University. All Chaplains are encouraged to attend meetings of the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre Committee. Each year they shall elect one Chaplain to be Coordinator.
  7. The role of the Coordinator, Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre will entail:
    • coordinating the administrative work of the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre;
    • regular liaison between the Chaplains and the University via the Director of Student Services;
    • convening the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre Committee;
    • coordinating the production of the annual report to the University.
  8. It is recognised that in our pluralist community, there are significant differences in religious belief. It is salutary that these differences be acknowledged, and that mutual respect among those with different beliefs be promoted and maintained.

2. The Role of Chaplains

Chaplains minister to students and staff of the University, and have a responsibility to provide an effective and ethical service.

Chaplains, in a desire for the good of the whole person, seek to contribute to an environment which supports mutual respect, self esteem, and the appropriate pursuit of personal work and study goals.

The roles of Chaplains will differ according to the particular tradition of each religious body, but generally can be described as follows:

  1. Pastoral
    Chaplains provide pastoral care for students and staff, supplementing the other support services of the University. It is recognised that some students may prefer a Chaplain to a clinical counsellor for personal counselling. Chaplains help to provide for personal and social needs, and to facilitate community life in the University. It is hoped that these services contribute positively to the quality of life and learning at the University.
  2. Chaplains provide practical care in a number of ways which may include:
    • enabling individuals to understand their spiritual concerns;
    • providing personal advice and counsel;
    • providing services to overseas students who are dealing with the dislocation and adjustments of living and studying in a foreign culture;
    • diversifying social contact especially for overseas students and others living away from home;
    • providing support for those adjusting to life in the residential colleges;
    • creating opportunities for students and staff to meet across faculty and cultural barriers;
    • providing support for co-religionists in relating tertiary study and faith;
    • including alumni in various activities; promoting the sense of community within the institution as a whole;
    • advocacy where appropriate;
    • engaging the broader University, for example on issues relating to ethics or social welfare.

    Chaplains recognise that in many instances it is appropriate that they work in conjunction with other units or areas of the University, for example, the colleges, Student Services and the International Student Services Unit.
  3. Spiritual
    Chaplains provide opportunities for a wide variety of religious services and activities appropriate to the diversity of their traditions and faiths, such as seasonal festivals, contemplation, prayer, liturgical worship and study of Scriptures.
  4. Religious Teaching
    Chaplains may provide religious teaching and opportunities for dialogue and discussion in accordance with the teachings of their faith traditions.

3. Chaplains and associated campus religious organisations

  1. Chaplains and campus religious organisations are distinct entities, however, some Chaplains work closely with particular campus religious organisations.
  2. Chaplains encourage the associated campus religious organisations with which they work to adhere to
    ethical standards and adherence to the University Codes of Conduct, the Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policies and Resolution Procedure. The Codes of Conduct and policies can be found on the University's web site at:
  3. Chaplains work primarily with students and staff of the University. Chaplains also provide useful links between the University and wider religious communities.
  4. Chaplains, in the course of their duties, have contact with chaplaincies and religious groups from other tertiary institutions.

4. Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre facilities

The Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre has been established to help serve the religious needs of the University community. The University provides Chaplains with certain facilities to assist their ministries.

The use of the space in the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre will be in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. Chaplains are allocated available office space. Full time Chaplains occupy their own office space, and
    part-time Chaplains share offices as required, subject to availability of space.
  2. As appropriate, common space is made available to all occupants of the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre for worship, counselling, prayer and study groups. Use is scheduled on a semester basis through the
    Coordinator, Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre.
  3. The décor of common space reflects mutual respect among the differing traditions and faiths.
  4. An associated campus religious organisation utilising the facilities of the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre,
    including those provided by virtue of 4.5, states clearly in all advertising the particular chaplaincy by
    which it is sponsored.
  5. In so far as the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre does not meet all the requirements for meeting space,
    Chaplains are able to book lecture theatres, tutorial rooms, etc., through the University's usual booking
  6. Chaplains will adhere to the Policy on the Use of University Information and Communication
    Resources (ICT Resources) and the Content Providers on the Internet Code of Conduct.

5. Review of Guidelines

  1. Changes to any aspect of the Guidelines must be made by agreement between the Chaplains and the University, through the Director, Student Services, and the Registrar.
  2. The Guidelines will be reviewed three years after they come into effect.
  3. The Guidelines will be deemed to come into effect on the day they are accepted by the Registrar.