Supervision for clergy: how it works in an Australian Anglican diocese

I was very impressed by the article reporting on Fr Declan Mulligan’s thoughts on supervision of priests (read it here.). I wanted to share with you my experience of working with the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle NSW which has an established system of pastoral supervision of priests, deacons and ordinands.
Details of the program, its goals, panel members, contact details, etc are available on line. Some details are given here. Each person on the panel provides a statement of supervision philosophy and their experience. Some priests make their own arrangements for supervision independently. The supervision relationship is confidential.
The Diocese expects all priests to attend supervision ten times a year. Matters to do with conduct in ministry are covered in supervision but the main focus is on helping the priest to have an adult relationship with their bishop and on providing a confidential and personally supportive relationship for the priest. Some of the supervisors are priests of the diocese, some are ministers in other churches, some psychologists, some former RC priests. Qualifications of applicants are vetted by the Archdeacon from the diocese and myself in collaboration.
The cost of supervision is borne by the supervisee, the diocese and the parish –split three ways ($90 per session is a base charge for a one hour session- so the supervisee’s fee is $30 only). Ordinands are covered by the diocese.
I was in ministry for 10 years as a Catholic priest and now work as a Mental Health Social Worker and Psychotherapist in private practice in Newcastle and operate also within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle of which I am an active member. The Anglican Bishop established a panel of counsellors and therapists from which the priests of the diocese can choose a supervisor. I was asked by the Anglican Bishop to convene the panel. Panelists meet three or four times a year for their own developmental purposes.
I suspect that with the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse underway in Australia, supervision may become an option for Catholic Dioceses to consider in this country. I thought you might be interested in this program which I believe is the first to be established in Australia- some eight years ago- by the Anglican Bishop Brian Farran (recently retired). The Newcastle Anglican Diocesan website has details of the program as well; summaries of panel members. etc
You can see the diocesan website here . (See ‘Professional Supervision Program’ under MINISTRY RESOURCES menu.)
Bryan Dunn
Principal Counselling for Solutions and Growth (nsw) Private Practice Therapeutic Counselling, Mediation and Supervision
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and Mediator
Medicare Provider No.2874301B

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One Comment

  1. All chaplains ministering in the British Armed Forces receive an Annual Appraisal of their performance as ministers and priests in whatever job they have been assigned to. The chaplain owns the report and is responsible to see that it progresses through the year in concert with his commanding officer and his senior chaplain with whom he will undergo a mid-year appraisal. Both these seniors are the reporting officers whose comments on performance and comments on potential, assure the chaplain of a vocational career progression towards greater responsibility. The content of the report enables the chaplain to be better appraised of his performance and/or areas that need improvement in order that his ministry be as effective as it can be. It is a good system; fair, impartial and supportive. It’s a pity there is nothing comparable in civilian ministry.

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