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RAAF Chaplaincy Accredited Safe Place

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 A chaplaincy centre has become the first ADF body to join the ACON SAFE Place program. http://www.acon.org.au/safeplace

RAAF Base Williamtown chaplaincy centre is offering to be a supportive environment free of prejudice of any kind.

The ACON Safe Place program was created one year before the ADF gay ban was lifted, but until now no Defence unit has fulfilled the requirements to be certified as a safe place.

Under the leadership of Chaplain Stephane Sarazin, the chaplaincy department at 26 Squadron has made the commitment to an inclusive safe haven for all members of the ADF, opposing discrimination and speaking up against prejudice – consistent with Air Force Values.

This initiative will support members of the LGBTI community.

Chaplain Sarazin highlights the contract that chaplains make with members of the ADF.

“Air Force Chaplains are charged with the responsibility of the welfare of personnel and their families. As the workforce of the ADF evolves to more closely reflect the community it serves, we must also evolve the nature of how we provide support.

“We have become an ACON safe place to make crystal clear that LGBTI personnel or in fact any member of the ADF is welcome here, and to receive judgment free spiritual guidance and other support.

“ACON provides great support within the LGBTI community and their resources will greatly add to our capability to meet the welfare needs of our personnel.”

ACON was established at a point in time when physical, verbal and organisational harassment towards LGBTI personnel was a common occurrence and mobile phones weren’t around. Previously known as the AIDS Council of NSW, the government-funded not-for-profit has morphed into a health and wellbeing organisation with specific focus on LGBTI communities. While reports of violence have reduced over the years, the program continues to provide visible reminders of support to LGBTI people.

Director-General Chaplaincy – Air Force, Chaplain (Air Commodore) Kevin Russell said, “We always aim to provide a safe haven for all personnel to be able to work through all kinds of personal issues. It is particularly pleasing that an external agency (ACON) has recognised that one of our Chaplaincy centres has stood out as being the ADF exemplar of a safe working environment.”

Other safe places include centres, shops, cafés, and other businesses which are welcoming, supportive and actively engaged with the LGBTI community.

Safe Place members:

  • Welcome sexuality, gender diverse, and intersex people
  • Publicly demonstrate support for LGBTI communities
  • Actively promote a prejudice and discrimination free space

Within the Defence environment, individuality can be a challenge for commanders to capitalise on and effectively manage. As such, the chaplaincy branch can provide supplementary support to command and members, aiding in maintaining an effective workforce and maximising results. 

Top Photo(R-L): CHAP Sarazin and CHAP Cox holding ACON accreditation. In the background: ACON accreditied safe place sticker.


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