For Jill Clements, driving hundreds of kilometres across WA’s Mid West is just a normal part of her daily routine as a Principal’s Chaplain.
In late 2016, YouthCARE formally launched Principal Chaplaincy, a new initiative to provide confidential pastoral support for principals across the Great Southern and Mid West Regions.
Jill is responsible for the Mid West region, a role she started in early 2017.
As part of the job, Jill contacts each of the principals personally to organise a time should they wish to meet.
“I encourage them to tell me their story, as much of it as they wish, about who they are and how they came to be placed in the position they currently occupy,” she said.
“It’s building relationships for the most part right now, although in several instances, there’s been an immediate need to keep in touch and follow up once a week by phone or in person.”
Coordinating meetings with busy principals across long distances can be tricky. There are 50 schools in the Mid West region, from Exmouth to Cervantes, and from the coast to Perenjori, Morawa, Mount Magnet, Cue and Meekatharra.
“I try to get appointments in several towns which are reasonably close to each other on the same day, to make travel more effective,” Jill said. “But it is not always possible!”
Feedback has been very positive.
“This service is seen to be a ‘safe place’ to speak in confidence about issues of personal concern,” Jill said.
“Principals have valued the opportunity to just speak about themselves, and the chance to unfold some personal matters that have been sitting heavily has been welcomed by a significant number.”