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New Future for Pastoral and Spiritual Care in Ageing


Over the past decade there has been an awakening of the need to recognise the place of spirituality in both the ageing and dying processes, together with the value of both specialist pastoral care and general spiritual care in supporting people as they age and approach the end of their life span.

Many organisations have sought to respond to this awakening. This has resulted in a plethora of spiritual and pastoral care programs and initiatives. At the same time some have struggled in their response, whilst others have yet to recognise the situation before them.

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Following a process that started in earnest in 2008, by 2010 there was consensus that a separate body was required to carry the work forward. Following strong support from leaders in the aged care sector, including the provision of seeding funding and commitments by 22 organisations to contribute significant foundation funding, PASCOP was incorporated in December 2012. The inaugural Board was elected in February 2013

The inaugural EO, David Petty,  was appointed simultaneously. The current CEO, Ilsa Hampton, commenced March 2016.

In April 2016, the Board proposed a name change to the membership: Meaningful Ageing Australia. The new name was designed to more effectively communicate our intent to a wider audience. The proposal was unanimously accepted.

A range of benefits and services continue to be developed ensuring a strong future for Meaningful Ageing Australia as we provide practical support to member organisations looking to establish and/or enhance their own pastoral and spiritual care programs.

The Seed Planted!

A search conference was held by the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies (CAPS) in August 2008. Delegates at a national conference were involved in a 24 hour “workshop” seeking practical directions for the provision of spiritual and pastoral care in the ageing community of Australia.

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Outcomes from the conference included:

  • The need for developing social (including community) and professional recognition of the value of spiritual care.
  • The desirability of building a culture of holistic care and support which embraces diversity in faiths and cultures, and provides access to and equity in pastoral care services for older people.
  • A requirement for education and training for pastoral carers with a theological and philosophical underpinning together with coordinated and common standards accreditation.
  • The establishment of national peak body for spiritual care in aged care.
  • Provision of sustainable funding and resources.
  • The establishing a quality research base with a theological and philosophical perspective, which is fundamental to the practice of Spiritual and Pastoral Care.

Next Steps

Twenty five invited people attended a workshop held on 25 June 2009 in Melbourne convened by Ilsa Hampton, then at Baptcare. The aims were to clearly identify the goals of a pastoral care and ageing group, to identify links with other organisations and to set directions for the way forward.

It was agreed that an association be formed to support those who provide pastoral and spiritual care to older people.

A committee was formed to develop a Vision, Mission Statement and Objectives.


To promote and pursue excellence in the provision of pastoral and spiritual care for the benefit of older people, their families and their carers.

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In promoting and pursuing excellence the organisation will:

  • Establish a national network of communication and resources for aged-care organisations and their staff.
  • Establish relationships with other relevant bodies.
  • Provide a national vision of quality holistic and inclusive care of older people from a knowledge base that has been established by the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies (CAPS) and its collaborators over the last decade.
  • Operate as an organisation that advances evidence-based best practice in the provision of pastoral and spiritual care of older people.
  • Promote guidelines for best practice of pastoral and spiritual care for older people as part of their holistic care and support in the context of a diversity of faiths and cultures.
  • Identify the needs for education and training across the nation, and draw resources for the provision of training.
  • Support Spiritual Care Australia in the development of a national register of competent and suitably qualified pastoral and spiritual care practitioners.
  • Lobby for access to sustainable funding for research, education / training and pastoral / spiritual care services.
  • Promote societal and professional recognition of the value of pastoral and spiritual care and its practitioners


The proposed name of the organisation was National Alliance for Pastoral and Spiritual Care of Older People in Australia – NAPSCOPA.

During the 5th CAPS Conference in September 2010 it was resolved that an Association be developed by CAPS. Sponsor/Member Associations would provide funds for secretariat services/project officer, and CAPS would provide office space.

The Board of CAPS in December 2010 adopted the recommendations that CAPS be the body organising the establishment of a national organisation, noting that CAPS could not offer the financial support needed for its development. It established a Task Group to advance the formation of the national organisation.

A strategy was adopted by the Task Group

  1. A new title: The proposed organisation be re-named PASCOP – “Pastoral And Spiritual Care of Older People”.
  2. Project Officer: A Project Officer to be appointed with office space and other workplace resources provided by the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies.
  3. Financial Support: Funding is required for salary of Project Officer. Financial support is to be sought from organisations involved in the support, care and/or accommodation of older people. The deadline for financial commitment by 30 June 2011 to enable the recruitment of a Project Officer to develop and promote a proposal.
  4. National Colloquium: Potential member organisations to consider a proposal.

Rather than initially embark on an extensive membership drive, the Task Group considered it preferable to invite twelve key organisations to become foundation sponsors to provide initial seeding finance to establish an organisation. The organisations were selected on the basis of seeking a representation of the national diversity.

The target needed to develop the proposal was to have at least $50,000 to cover the salary of a part time project officer, and assist in the convening of a national colloquium. Generous financial support was provided by 11 organisations.

At the beginning of August 2011 Hilde de Raadt-Abma was appointed as Project Officer on a two day per week basis until mid 2012.

On 5 March 2012, potential member organisations for PASCOP were invited to Canberra for a National Colloquium : “Creating a New Future for Pastoral Care in Ageing.”

Objective: To engage leading executives from the field of aged care in the strategic provision of pastoral and spiritual care of older persons to consider a new national organisation, PASCOP (Pastoral and Spiritual Care of Older People).


  • Development of shared understandings for effective cooperation in the provision of pastoral and spiritual aged care at regional, state and national level.
  • Commitment to the strategic provision of pastoral and spiritual care with the establishment of PASCOP.

Formation of PASCOP

With confirmation in March 2012 of the proposal by potential member organisations, CAPS appointed a Steering Committee which sought Sponsor Organisations to fund the establishment of PASCOP.

By September 2012 there were 22 Sponsor Organisations which had each pledged $8000 per annum for three years. Over the next months a constitution for PASCOP was developed and then agreed to by the Sponsor Organisations. PASCOP was incorporated in December 2012.

In early January 2013 Dave Petty commenced as the new Executive Officer of PASCOP.

On 5 February 2013 a meeting of Sponsor Organisations appointed an inaugural BOARD of PASCOP.

On 10 October 2013 a Memorandum of Understanding between PASCOP and CAPS was signed, affirming the relationship between the two organisations.

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Inaugural Board: (Elected by Sponsors 5 February 2013)

Chairman: Ross Low (NSW/ACT)

Deputy-Chair: Sara Blunt (SA)

Secretary: Susan Sullivan (ACT)

Treasurer: John Ireland (NSW)

Board Members:

Colleen Geyer (QLD)

John Gilmour (QLD)

Ilsa Hampton (VIC)

Dean Phelan (QLD)

Elizabeth MacKinlay (CAPS rep)


Steering Committee:

Establishing PASCOP from March 2012 to February 2013

Geoffrey Hunter (Convenor) CAPS Board

Liz MacKinlay CAPS Director

John Ireland (NSW)

Susan Sullivan (ACT)

Sara Blunt (SA)


Task Group:

Planning PASCOP from 2010 -12

Geoffrey Hunter (Chair)

Elizabeth MacKinlay CAPS Director

Eric McDonald CAPS Board

Kevin Vassarotti CAPS Board

Loretta Zamprogno CAPS Board

Judith Marston (Secretary)

John Ireland (NSW)

Jim Spiker (SA)

Joseph Abad (NSW)

Rod MacDonald (Qld)


Initial Steering Committee Members 2008-2010

Ilsa Hampton (Convenor), Elizabeth Mackinlay, Tony Coles, Jim Spiker, Judy Marston

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