Australian Police

Australian Police

The Thin Blue Line – Australian Police

Police Chaplaincy


The New South Wales Police Force Chaplains Insignia

  • Chaplains have been associated with the military for centuries and were often referred to in historical records of famous battles.

  • The chaplain always had a dual role – rendering spiritual support to the king and his court, and to the soldiers who went into battle.

  • In Australia, the first chaplains were appointed to the Australian Military Forces in 1913.

  • On 24 October 1786, the Reverend Richard Johnstone was appointed by George 111 to accompany the fleet to serve as Colonial Chaplain.

  • The first informal provision of police chaplaincy in the United Kingdom occurred in 1842 when the London City Mission offered pastoral support to widows of serving police officers. This was formalised in 1851.

  • In NSW, the Guild of St Christopher was founded in 1933. They provided support and fellowship for Catholic police officers decades before a formal arrangement was put in place. The Chaplain to the Guild was part of the ministry belonging to St Mary’s Cathedral.

  • In 1972, Father Jim Boland, in Cabramatta begins assisting police referred to him by the Police Medical Branch

  • In 1980, the first honorary chaplains were formally appointed within the Police Force. Senior chaplains were issued with official Identification Certificates.

  • The first chaplain outside the Sydney area was Father Peter Unwin who was appointed to Broken Hill on 13/8/81.

  • 1986 – Father Jim Boland appointed as the first paid, full time Police Chaplain.

  • 1988 – full time chaplains representing Anglican and other denominations appointed.

  • 1993 – first Police Chaplain (Rev Barry Dwyer) appointed to Goulburn Police Academy.

  • NSW chaplains are employed by their respective denominational bodies. For full time chaplains, the Force funds the respective churches who then pay a stipend directly to each chaplain.

  • Honorary chaplains are reimbursed for travelling and out of pocket expenses, provided with a uniform and invited to attend an Annual Training Seminar at the Police Academy.

  • Police chaplains have been present at all major disasters in NSW eg. the Newcastle earthquake, the Kempsey bus crash, Sydney and country bushfires, the Thredbo landslide

5 thoughts on “Police Chaplaincy

  • Hi. I was wondering if the chaplain roles have a rank structure like the main part of the NSW Police force. Do they have senior and head chaplain ranks?

    • Hi Archie,

      Yes, Police Chaplains do have a Seniority structure, i.e. Chaplain, Senior Chaplain but do not wear any Rank insignia other than a Police uniform with Police Chaplain on the shoulder patches.


  • Phillip Tang

    Hi I am a student at Morling Bible college. Do you offer student chaplaincy placements?

  • John Purssey

    Do you provide spiritual care to police officers retired owing to PTSD?

    • Hello John,

      I am not sure whether the Police Depts. actually continue with spiritual care of their police once they are out of “the job”. It would be more of an individual arrangement but there are Retired Police who are also Chaplan’s who do this work freely – at least in NSW.

      If you need further information, or contact details for Chaplan’s, then let me know.



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