Spiritual Health Association (SHA) stands at a pivotal moment as imminent funding cuts pose a threat to the quality and reach of spiritual care in Victorian health services. The Health Minister’s decision to cease our funding will undermine Spiritual Health Association’s role in upholding care quality, safety standards, and sector resourcing, and diminish the capacity of faith communities to deliver faith-specific spiritual care.
In response to these challenges, Spiritual Health Association has sent an Open Letter to the Hon. Jacinta Allan, Premier of Victoria, signed by faith leaders. This letter expresses deep concern over the decision to terminate all funding to Spiritual Health Association and faith communities as of June 30, 2024.
Our goal remains unchanged: To foster a compassionate healthcare system that meets the diverse spiritual needs of all, recognising and honouring every faith and worldview. Our innovative National Model for Spiritual Care in Health, which is currently being trialled in 11 health services, is a testament to this commitment.
Open Letter to the Honourable Premier of Victoria
13th November 2023
Honourable Jacinta Allan MP
Premier of Victoria
1 Treasury Place
Dear Premier Allan,
Re: Urgent Intervention Required for the Continuation of Funding for Spiritual Care in Victoria
We, the undersigned faith leaders of communities currently receiving funding for spiritual care services, are writing to express our deep concern over the recent decision to cease all funding to the Spiritual Health Association (SHA) and faith communities as of June 30, 2024.
For nearly 70 years, this funding has been a cornerstone in providing emotional and spiritual support to Victorians in need. It has been a bipartisan commitment that has not only elevated the quality of healthcare but has also generated significant goodwill within our diverse communities.
The decision to discontinue this funding undermines the efforts made by countless volunteers and professionals dedicated to the well-being of patients and their families. We are particularly concerned about the impact this will have on Victoria’s healthcare system, which prides itself on offering a holistic approach to patient care.
We understand that financial considerations are a factor in policy decisions. However, it is essential to recognise that the value of spiritual care extends far beyond monetary metrics. The emotional and spiritual support provided through this funding significantly contributes to the quality of life for thousands of Victorians, aligning with the principles of compassion, dignity, and holistic health.
We, therefore, respectfully request that you intervene in this decision and ensure that the funding for SHA and the faith communities is restored. In the context of a healthcare system that aims to be inclusive and person-centred, the cessation of this long-standing financial support would be a step backward, affecting not just the spiritual care sector but the very fabric of our diverse society.
Your immediate attention to this critical matter will make a profound impact on the lives of countless Victorians. We are open to engaging in constructive dialogue to find a sustainable path forward.
Leaders of the Faith Communities of Victoria (As listed below)
Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne
Mr Dinesh Weerakkody, President, Buddhist Council of Victoria
Ms Agnes Sheehan, CEO, CatholicCare Victoria
Makarand Bhagwat, President, The Hindu Council of Australia (Victorian Branch)
Adel Salman, President, Islamic Council of Victoria
Daniel Aghion KC, President, Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Acting Bishop Matthias Prenzler, Lutheran Church of Australia, Victorian District
His Eminence, Metropolitan Petar, The Diocesan Bishop of The Macedonian Orthodox Church, Diocese of Australia and New Zealand
Reverend Ian Hutton, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Victoria
Jasbir Singh Suropada, Chairperson, Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria
Reverend David Fotheringham, Moderator, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria &Tasmania