Spiritual Care Volunteer Training Program

FIMO Spiritual Care Volunteer Training Program

FIMO sought interest from, screened, selected and commenced training for a small number of volunteers in the ‘Spiritual Care Volunteer Training program’ on Sundays 31st July, 7th August and 11th of September. The training program was developed by Spiritual Health Victoria and was delivered by trainers Rabbi. Gabbi Sar Shalom + Bhakta Dasa who have been trained in the use of this program to provide training. Volunteers have been trained in Unit 1 to 4 of the Spiritual Care Volunteer Training Program developed by Spiritual Health Victoria, have been trained in the use of the Interfaith Guide developed by FIMO with the support of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, and are currently engaging in placements in hospitals. Volunteers will receive a Volunteer Pastoral/Spiritual Care Certificate of Completion. This training has been attended by changemakers from Brahma Kumaris, Global Organisation for Divinity, Nithyananda Sangha, Sivathondan Nilayam Hallam, Vaishnav Sangh, VI&RWC, Dattatreya Centre, leaders within the community, and priests from the Sharada Peetam Lineage and Nepal.

Training Session at Vaishnav Sangh’s Premises
The project is important as Victoria is home to Australia’s largest Indian community. A number of different faiths are practised by persons who are of Indian origin – including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity etc. Persons of Indian origin faith are overrepresented in instances of domestic violence, crisis situations, justice system interactions, hospital entries and refugee situations. In each of these settings, persons of Indian origin faith do not have easy access to spiritual support or care. This need can be quite acute at times of natural disaster (e.g. bushfire, flood).

Training provided at the Dandenong Arts Centre Band Room by Gabbi Sar Shalom

Afternoon Tea

Unlike established Western faiths, Indian origin faiths do not have established chaplaincy structures. While places of worship are common community gathering places, and places for communal support, these places of worship do not have formalised and coordinated spiritual care outreach programs.


The future of this project will see FIMO coordinate the work of volunteer pastoral/spiritual care chaplains. FIMO, as the umbrella organisation for a wide range of Indian faith organisations and places of worship, will act as a central point of referral; oversee the work of the volunteers; centralise feedback and continuous improvement efforts; centralise reporting and data collection; and look to take lessons from the pilot for a broader expansion.

Bhakta Dasa - Trainer trained by Spiritual Health Victoria


FIMO will market the availability of the volunteer spiritual carers to its network of stakeholders and external relationships – including Police, hospitals, support agencies, welfare agencies, justice system institutions and other organisations who come in contact with persons of Indian origin at a time of transition, illness, grief or loss.

The pilot will run for 12 months, at the conclusion of which a wide ranging review of the pilot will be conducted to assess effectiveness of the program; of volunteer training and spiritual care provision; and the extent to which the program is meeting community needs. The pilot will have an initial focus on Southern metropolitan Melbourne.

Revati Ilanko | Executive Officer