Andrew and Alison Hillier

Andrew Hillier with wife Alison who is the chaplain at Hillcrest Primary School.

By Devonport Chaplaincy CEO Andrew Hillier

Relationships developed carefully and lovingly over more than 15 years meant the church of the city, including chaplaincy, could respond quickly and appropriately in Devonport’s hour of greatest need.

Our unprecedented and privileged access to provide comfort and practical care to so many at their most vulnerable as a result of the Hillcrest Primary School jumping castle tragedy, has resulted from trust earned over many years of faithful and professional service.

We were top-of-mind and sought out by individuals and organisations to serve on the frontlines of our city’s worst disaster. It is a great privilege to care for the city we love.

Being part of the tight-knit Devonport Church Leaders’ Association has meant we have been able to coordinate and tailor our response to meet specific and varied needs.

The mental health toll of the tragedy, in which six children died, will continue for months, even years, as students, teachers and families seek to recover from the terrible events of December 16 last year.

Chaplaincy services increasing

We are increasing chaplaincy services and mental health first aid training in response.

Chaplaincy days will be increased from the resumption of classes at Hillcrest, Don College, Reece High School, SPACE School and Devonport Christian College. The high schools are those where graduating Year Six students from Hillcrest will be attending.

We have already played a significant role in helping our city through its initial trauma by providing chaplaincy services at the school, including the memorial site out the front, hospitals, private homes and at funerals. We responded with prayer, silence, tears, referrals and food.

Going forward, we will continue to coordinate with the church, other agencies and, most importantly, the established school care team of social workers, psychologists and nurses to ensure no one is missed.

Your financial support is urgently needed to enable us to increase our chaplaincy response.

We have no savings or emergency fund from which to supply extra chaplaincy support to those who need it most.

Schools were already asking for extra chaplaincy days and student mentors before the Hillcrest disaster.

I welcome the opportunity to talk with you directly about our future plans and the resulting cost.

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