Veterans’ Chaplaincy Pilot Program

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Learn more about the Veterans’ Chaplaincy Pilot Program, where it will operate and who is involved.

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What is the Veterans’ Chaplaincy Pilot Program?

The Veterans’ Chaplaincy Pilot Program (VCPP) is a $1.9 million Government commitment to provide chaplaincy support, post-service for transitioning at risk Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families, providing another option for support for those who need it most.

The program aims to deliver on the following objectives:

  • Facilitate access to spiritual health support and other DVA support programs.
  • Provide pastoral care, mentoring and education through transition and into civilian life.
  • Provide pastoral care and spiritual health support during crisis, high intensity or acute events, in particular supporting adjustment, grief, and recovery.

Developing, upskilling and supporting community resources to deliver this support to veterans will be important to long-term success.

The Pilot Program will continue until 30 June 2024 with evaluation and consideration regarding next steps as part of the Pilot.

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Program context

Chaplains have long been a feature of the Australian military. Chaplains play an important role providing spiritual, religious, and pastoral support to serving ADF personnel and their families, regardless of their religious beliefs. Many who have served in the ADF will have at one time or another sought the support of a Chaplain.

Evidence before the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has highlighted the important role that ADF chaplains can play in suicide prevention and care. This pilot will extend that support with a focus on veterans and families undergoing complex or challenging transitions from ADF service.

Civilian religious organisations are not generally able to replicate the service provided by chaplains as they lack familiarity with the experience of veterans and their families and the context of military life. As a result, once someone has transitioned from the ADF they lose access to this very specific service they once received.

Most ADF personnel transition readily into the Australian community after their ADF service with little need for support. For some transition is a difficult and stressful time. The VCPP aims to support those who need chaplaincy support as part of their transition.

The Veterans’ Chaplaincy Pilot Program aims to connect transitioning ADF members, veterans and their families with chaplains working in the program. By doing this, the effective and familiar support ADF personnel receive through ADF chaplains can once again be established.

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Program locations

The Pilot Program will trial support in regions with significant Defence and veteran populations nationally.

The trial will begin in Perth, will be extended into Southeast Queensland in second quarter of 2023, and then to North Queensland in the third quarter of 2023.

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Who are the Chaplains?

The initial Veterans Chaplains will be current or former ADF chaplains. This is the support that Ex-Service Organisations and veterans have principally asked for.


Chaplain John Crosby is the first chaplain appointed to the Veterans’ Chaplaincy Pilot Program and is working as the Regional Chaplaincy Manager in Perth. Chaplain Crosby entered the Army in 2009 and during his service has provided chaplaincy support to a number of areas within the ADF. He has extensive training and experience in suicide prevention and mental health care.

He was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal for his moral repair work within the ADF and is a leader in the developing field of Moral Injury support, with training in Pastoral Narrative Disclosure (PND) and Moral Injury Skills training (MIST).

Chaplain Crosby has been providing chaplaincy support for members of the ADF in Perth and this support is now extended to all veterans and their families in the area.

Southeast Queensland

Chaplain Stan Fetting has been appointed as the Veterans’ Chaplain in Brisbane. He entered Navy as a chaplain in Darwin 1999 before becoming an Army chaplain in 2003. Chaplain Fetting has provided chaplaincy across a number of units, areas and domestic operations, working in the Army Reserve most of the time. He has extensive experience in suicide prevention, mental health care, moral injury and working with members who are transitioning out of defence.

Chaplain Fetting is an endorsed Baptist minister and also a qualified fitness professional. He has particular experience in using physical activity as a pathway for mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Chaplain Fetting will be working closely with Open Arms and particularly with the Lived Experience Peers. He will work from and with a number of places including the Veterans’ and Families’ Hub in Caboolture.

North Queensland

Planning is underway to establish chaplaincy in North Queensland in the third quarter of 2023.

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Who is eligible for assistance?

All transitioning members of the ADF as well as veterans and their families within the pilot regions.

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How to make contact with the program

If you or someone you know would like to speak to one of the program Chaplains, they can connect with them through the normal DVA support channels. Please note this program is a pilot and will only be operating in Perth, Brisbane and Townsville. Chaplains in Brisbane and Townsville will commence later this year.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this just a Christian program?

The VCPP aims to provide support to people of any or no religious adherence. Chaplains can be drawn from any faith group in Australia that is recognised by the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services. Operating in a manner similar to ADF chaplains, it is expected that veterans chaplains will principally provide pastoral care and counselling, spiritual health support and if appropriate, religious support.

What training is planned for faith group leaders to support veterans?

The VCPP will develop and evaluate training that will have a suicide prevention program at its core. The nature of ADF service and Defence support resources plus training on the current Transition process and support available for veterans and families will be provided.

What support will be available for faith group leaders to support veterans?

In addition to initial training, particularly in mental health, the VCPP will develop a range of support resources to help community based faith leaders provide appropriate support for veterans and families including:

  • How to conduct a military funeral
  • How to conduct a memorial service
  • How to conduct an ANZAC or Remembrance Day service
  • How to access suicide prevention support
  • How to connect veterans and families to appropriate support
  • How to lead veteran or family small groups.
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