Airport chaplaincy has a long and varied history in Australia and New Zealand. The first chaplaincies began in Melbourne and Sydney as part of industrial mission then spread to the other airports around Australia and across the Tasman to Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand. Since the early 1970’s Australian airport chaplains have regularly attended IACAC conferences and played an active part in the Association hosting a total of five conferences to date. This year the October conference will be the sixth held in Australia and fifth in Melbourne.
Although airport chaplaincy was very active for many years, sadly as airports became privately managed, their chaplaincies became less active or ceased altogether. But since 2010 there has been a resurgence of chaplaincies around Australia. Both Sydney and Melbourne again have very active chaplaincies with full time chaplains, Hobart and Adelaide have a chaplaincy service on a regular basis, Launceston is searching for someone to take on the role and other airports are inquiring about the value of a chaplaincy service for them.
Australia is a multicultural country, in Victoria alone where the next conference will be, there are approximately 200 different nationalities, 130 different languages spoken and as many, or more, different faiths practised. It is a diverse mix of people all coming together to form their local communities. Australians together.
It is this diversity which we, as airport chaplains here in Australia, embrace. Our chaplaincies are inclusive and welcome everyone. Major Winton Knop described chaplaincy in Australia with these words;
“ Every day is different from another in the chaplaincy world at the Airport. You have no idea what is coming next. Some people might find such uncertainty and spontaneity a chore, tiring and even tough to face, yet the very nature of the airport explodes with diversity, the unexpected, a dynamic of service and engagement, just because of its very nature, its purpose…a launching and landing place for a huge community of people, every day.”
It is this diversity that set the theme for the IACAC October 2019 Conference in Melbourne. We are looking forward to welcoming chaplains to our beautiful country from all round the world. We hope to see you in Melbourne with us then.