Cathy Hinge was one of the first pastoral care workers in the Tatiara region, commencing her role at Bordertown High School 22 years ago.
There are now pastoral care workers in Padthaway, Mundulla and Bordertown primary schools as well as the Keith Area School, all supported by an encouraging committee from the local church community.
“I feel it is a privilege to share in the lives of so many young people but also a necessity,” Cathy said.
“Sadly there are young people in our schools hurting for many reasons, and this may have a negative impact on their learning and in the classroom.
“If we listen and alleviate the concerns of the student this will then flow on to ease the work and the worry of the teacher, thus making learning easier.”
Cathy facilitates a ‘grief and loss’ program as well as anger management, self-esteem and anxiety support sessions.
“These assist young people to express their feelings in a constructive way, to be supportive of others, to recognise their own needs and to accept support,” she said.
Cathy offers an “inclusive, welcoming room” during recess and lunch breaks, as well as breakfast each Tuesday and Thursday, where food and friendship is shared.
“The staff are very caring but they have classes to attend. Pastoral care workers are in the school to care and have the time to stop, listen and act to help when needed,” she explained.
Cathy, who has four adult children, works three days a week at the high school and provides a link between churches, the wider community and the school community.
Pastoral care work in schools is supported by the Federal Government through the National School Chaplaincy Program.
In the Tatiara area the district council and the local churches also provide funding.
Cathy said it was very rewarding to be able to help students through difficult times in their lives. In some cases, this involved referring them to other health professionals.
“Before I married my husband Al, I was a police officer, so I have always had an interest in helping people,” Cathy said.
“I became involved with a lot of families through my role and as a result of this have developed some long lasting friendships.
“Many students even after leaving the school refer back to their ‘old’ school pastoral care worker when life becomes difficult.
“I love my time at the Bordertown High School and being there for so many young people.
“Kindness is one soul touching another, in a way that says ‘I see you’.”Jump to next article