Who we are

The Secular Spiritual Care Network (SSCN) is an emerging community of people committed to companioning others through difficult times. We are developing the first program in Australia dedicated to providing emotional-existential support to people who do not identify as religious by people who do not identify as religious.

Underwritten by start-up grant from the Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV), fiduciary and programmatic oversight of the project is the responsibility of the HSV Sub-Committee on SCCN comprised of:

  • Rod Bower, HSV President
  • Les Allan, HSV Vice-President
  • Stephen Stuart, HSV Secretary
  • Roslyn Ives, HSV Committee Member
  • John Russell, HSV Committee Member

Additional guidance is provided by the SSCN Advisory Board:

  • John Davey, Former patient, Caulfield Hospital
  • Ruth Oaken, Senior Chaplain/Manager of Wellbeing, Toll Group
  • Anne O’Keefe, Independent spiritual care practitioner
  • Dr. Christopher Turner, Lecturer, Stirling Theological College
  • Annie Whitlocke, Buddhist lay spiritual carer and death doula

Director of SSCN is Joe Sehee.

What we do

Modelled upon the ‘Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network’ in the UK, which has brought forward more than 200 people to work in a variety of settings in the UK, SSCN is working to:

  • Make spiritual care assessable to everyone regardless of their belief system;
  • Eliminate the obstacles that cause some to reject spiritual care; and
  • Build a community of spiritual carers that reflects the diversity of the Australian people.

We do that by training, vetting, placing and support secular spiritual carers who are available to work in hospitals, hospices, aged care facilities, schools, workplaces, prisons, emergencies settings, and hopefully in many other places.

Training

This past March, SSCN held our first induction program for secular spiritual carers involving 15 people with backgrounds such as psychology, psychotherapy, social work, nursing and palliative care. We are currently accepting applications to participate in our next training that will take place later this year. For more information contact SSCN Director Joe Sehee

Where we’re going

In addition to making available secular spiritual carers to work alongside faith-affiliated carers in a variety of settings, we intend to make non-religious support people available for one-on-one sessions including over the phone and via video calls.

We are also exploring the role that secular spiritual care might play in reducing our worsening problem of social isolation and loneliness, particularly in those who do not have a faith community to turn to for support. SCCN is currently applying for funding a number of sources to mount a pilot project envisioned to launch next year.

And we’ll be doing whatever else it takes, including challenging discriminatory policies, to ensure that those of us who do not identify as religious are afforded the opportunity to find meaning, purpose and connection during difficult times