Judy’s nine years of care and commitment as Chaplain

Published 11 December 2009

judyrThe Rev. Judy Redman’s placement as Uniting Church Chaplain to the University of New England ends on the 31st of December.

Since she took up the position in February 2001, the University has benefited not only from the pastoral care she has provided, but also from her committed contribution to other aspects of student support.

Judy has helped many new students – both Australian and international – settle in to university life and overcome problems of homesickness and disorientation.

When she came to UNE, she built on her work as the inaugural Ecumenical Chaplain at the Gippsland campus of Monash University, where she was involved in the delivery of a range of student services – including the development of an information package to help those suffering from homesickness. She brought that material with her to UNE and adapted it for the Armidale campus, where it is now an important component of the University’s “orientation” material for both Australian and international students.

Her involvement with student services at UNE includes being a member of the former Student Support Advisory Committee (2001-6), coordinator of the Don’t Drop Out project for struggling students (2003-4), postgraduate representative on the Alcohol Awareness Advisory Committee (2006), postgraduate member of the UNE Council (2006-8), Vice-President of the UNE Postgraduate Association (2006), and editor of a cultural awareness booklet for international students (2007-9).

She also served on the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee from 2002 to 2008, and as Chair of that committee’s panel on research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from 2004 to 2008. She is particularly proud of the panel’s achievement of specialised training for people undertaking such research.

Judy says she has enjoyed working on a campus small enough to allow people “to know who you are as a person”.

The pastoral role of a university chaplain, she explained, is not as clearly defined as that of a minister working within a congregation. “I had to do a lot of work developing networks and helping people understand what I was here for,” she said. “Some people are deeply suspicious of the Church, and it takes a while to build up a good working relationship.”

A big advantage of working outside a congregation, she said, is that people – especially young people – feel more able to ask questions – questions that can be “challenging but quite freeing”.

“Having a religious presence on campus shows that the University is serious about its educational task of developing the whole person – not just the intellect,” she said. “For some people, their faith is an important part of who they are, and providing support for that is important.”

Judy is on long service leave until the end of her appointment, and is spending the time working on the PhD project she is undertaking at UNE: a study of the parables of the Realm of God in the Gospel of Thomas (written in the Coptic language) and their parallels in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). The project developed out of a study of Coptic that she embarked on through her interest in languages and in Christian history.

Her family, too, have strong connections with UNE: her husband Bruce is currently enrolled in an environmental science course, their daughter Ceiridwen is studying German in UNE’s School of Arts in preparation for undertaking a Bachelor of Arts degree, and their son Hugh holds a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from UNE and works for the University as a computer analyst. (Judy’s own tertiary qualifications are from the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology, and Melbourne College of Divinity.)

Whatever the future holds, Judy – with the support of her family – will continue on her path of active commitment to the Church and to the wider community.