Chaplains join the Air Force as recognised representatives from various churches and faith groups, working together in a team environment with Air Force members and their families.

Chaplains are well placed to meet rapidly changing social and cultural environments, engaging members in their own ‘space’ and offering a way forward.
Chaplaincy is about ministering with members (often in their workplace) and their families in a militarily unique life journey. Through engagement with the Air Force, members and families experience the best, and the most challenging circumstances, often quite different to general Australian society. The ministry of the Chaplain in this space can lead to a dynamic experience of God’s presence, love, grace, forgiveness, and an opportunity for personal growth.

Air Force is seeking women and men to join as Chaplains in a permanent or part-time capacity. If you are a pastor, priest, minister or equivalent and seeking an exciting yet challenging alternative ministry, please email raaf.chaplains [at] defence.gov.au.

What is Chaplaincy in the Air Force?

Chaplaincy aspects

Ministry with Air Force personnel is often missional in that many personnel will not have previously experienced a Chaplain.  Right from the start of one’s career in Defence, Chaplains are involved with personnel and their families. A lot of the Chaplain’s ministry is pastoral, and includes building relationships with Command, personnel, and their families. This is achieved through being present and participating in the everyday work of Air Force, whether in an office, a warehouse, a hangar, on an aircraft, or on deployment or exercises.

Chaplains share life with personnel and seek to embody the God in whom they believe in the way they interact and relate with those for whom they care.

Chaplaincy requires strong spiritual, physical, cognitive and emotional fitness, often engaging people in ways that extend beyond other ministry contexts. 

While continuing to maintain their sending faith group Code of Conduct, Chaplains are also  required to meet the ‘Statement of Expectations’ of the Director General of Chaplaincy for the behaviour of Chaplains while adhering to the values and integrity of the Australian Defence Force. At a fundamental level, Chaplains will have opportunity to: 

  • Pray with members, for leaders, members and families, and other Chaplains
  • Help members and their families locate suitable faith group communities
  • Conduct Bible studies and comparative faith studies
  • Provide support in times of introspection surrounding faith/spirituality issues
  • Provide confidential care for members and families 
  • Prepare couples for marriage and conduct marriage, baptismal, and funeral services
  • Be involved in leading military ceremonies such as ANZAC Day and Graduations
  • Provide support and advice to all personnel
  • Support and advise leadership in the care and welfare of members and families
  • Engage in regular activities including physical training (PT), briefs, and military exercises
  • Offer interactive sessions such as building resilience, ethical dilemmas, character development, life skilling, and handling change in the work environment
  • Confidentially advocating for members in matters relating to workplace challenges
  • Undertake Chaplaincy training at the Defence Force Chaplains’ College (Canberra)
  • Attend ADF Chaplain retreats, conferences and seminars as required

Military aspects

As a uniformed member of the Air Force, Chaplains will maintain proficient standards of:

  • Physical fitness
  • Weapons readiness (even though Chaplains generally do not carry weapons)
  • Be involved with exercises and short training courses (away from home base)

What about postings and overseas deployments?

Permanent Chaplains are posted to positions at Bases across Australia and overseas for durations of approximately 3 years. Postings are decided according to current and future Air Force capability requirements and take into consideration operational deployments, professional development, and family circumstance.

Chaplains hold a key support place ‘on the ground' on deployments. While this means being away from home for a lengthy time, ministry is usually significantly enhanced in these higher stress environments and separation from family and friends.

What part do Faith Groups hold?

Guidance and advice

Each Chaplain seeks guidance from their faith group representative or head according to the approved framework.

Ongoing ordination and licensing

Chaplains must remain in good standing with their faith group and comply with ongoing ordination and/or licensing requirements.

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct    Chaplains are expected to adhere to the Code of Conduct set by their faith group. This include behaviour considered 'acceptable' in general society but 'of higher discipline' by a faith group.

Responding to allegations of misconduct

Sending faith groups are requested to review and respond to allegations of misconduct or abuse by Chaplains.

What is RACS?

The Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS) is an advisory group representing the Faiths and Christian Denominations of Australian Defence Force Chaplains.

Their primary activities include the endorsement of new Chaplains, pastoral care of existing Chaplains, and guiding Defence policy on religious ministry to the ADF.

The RACS is made up as follows:

  • Affiliated Protestant Churches (Australian Christian Church, Baptist, Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Salvation Army, and Seventh Day Adventist)     
  • Anglican     
  • Buddhism    
  • Hindu    
  • Jewish    
  • Mormon    
  • Muslim    
  • Presbyterian    
  • Roman Catholic    
  • Sikh    
  • Uniting Church    
  • Women’s Advisor to ADF Chaplaincy representative

Is serving as a Chaplain for you?

Chaplain Tom Killingbeck  -  ‘The culture of Air Force is such that Airmen and Women trust a Chaplain to be able to help them. Right from the start, if you’re in the seat, you can help look after and care for all who come knocking.’

Chaplain Andrea Follett  -  ‘Part-time Chaplaincy is an enriching and challenging experience. I believe Reserve Chaplaincy can value-add to a Permanent Chaplaincy Team, bringing healthy perspective to an often intense environment.’

Air Force member commenting about Chaplains  -  ‘Being deployed on operations presents many challenges mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally not just to those that serve, but also to the family back home. Having an advocate both here and back home who will be able to assist in those difficult periods is invaluable. Chaplains provide this unique ability.’

To learn more or submit your interest, please email raaf.chaplains [at] defence.gov.au, visit ‘Defence Force jobs’ or call Defence Recruiting on 13 19 01.