It has been a busy month here at Spiritual Health Association! Some of you joined us last week at our Annual General Meeting where we launched our Annual Report and celebrated all that was achieved in 2021-2022, followed by the engaging forum Caring for Carers: Spiritual Support for Staff, presented by Sandy Schutte, Anne Wright and Sacha McDonald from Western Health.
I would like to share with you today two articles of significance that I referenced last week in my speech at our AGM. The first (October 15th) by Parnell Palme McGuiness was titled Why I’m an atheist but not proud of it. Parnell makes the following statement: “I am ashamed of it because the more we understand about how human societies grow, flourish and become altruistic, the clearer it becomes that religion plays a central role.” Her ongoing discussion is well worth the read.
The second article (October 17th) by Sean Kelly is called What politicians have in common with priests, or should. Sean describes some experiences told by others of what he calls ‘descriptions of events and feelings ultimately irreducible’. As I read these stories, the experiences were ones that could easily be labelled as supernatural or ‘spiritual’! He goes on to say ‘we are hopelessly sheepish about the ineffable. And yet it is part of life and cannot be extinguished’.
We know this from our own research highlighted in The Future of Spiritual Care in Australia report. Our research demonstrates that for many Australians spirituality has not faded, but it is changing. Kelly concludes his article with the following:
We live in a time of crisis; meaning eludes us and our trust in politicians and institutions is low. Feelings (we might say ‘our spirituality’) make their presence known, one way or another. Finding new ways to talk about the full breadth of being human is one of the challenges facing our political leaders, whether they realise it or not.
This is an opportunity for SHA and highlights the importance of our work. We are reminders to our political leaders that the full breadth of humanity includes the spiritual dimension, and our work provides the language for this conversation. Together we bring this into the public domain through our advocacy work in healthcare. That is why ensuring we have the highest standard of spiritual care being delivered across our health services is essential.
SHA is proud of the work we do in this space as you can hear in our Annual Report Welcome Video. I want to acknowledge the work of the whole SHA team. The achievements recorded in the annual report are a testament to their passion and commitment.
I also want to offer a word of gratitude to the spiritual care workforce who every day are the ones providing compassionate, person-centred spiritual care to patients, families, and staff. Our thanks to you who bring this endeavour to life.
And finally, I am thrilled to share with you a short film that has been produced as part of the Live the life you please campaign, proudly sponsored by SHA. The film is titled Spiritual care at the end of life and offers a beautiful example of the invaluable qualities of a spiritual care relationship and the integral part it plays in holistic palliative care. You can read more about it and view the video below.
Happy International Spiritual Care Week to you all!
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