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12 Angus Ave
Edwardstown, SA, 5039

(08) 8378 6800

Newsletter Edition 2 2016


Kerryn Coombs

What’s in a name?

Angela Jolly, Executive Director

Angela Jolly, Executive Director

We all have a name, some of us love ours, and others may respond by “what were the parents thinking?” Some parents agonise over what to call their child during the pregnancy and some children are not named until sometime after their birth. If you talk to any teacher in school today they will speak of the variety and spelling of their students names.  

Your name identifies you, it might send a message as to the era you were born, maybe your nationality, religion or cultural background. Some names carry instant recognition or notoriety like Einstein, Elvis, Bono, Hitler, and of course Jesus. We recognise products and brands by their name. We often purchase a product based on the name and reputation that it carries, for example Apple, Coke, Nike or Mazda. Your name carries meaning and in many cases value and influence.

I am proud of the SMG name; we have worked hard to establish a positive presence and reputation across school and church communities. I love that we were birthed out of the United Christian Forum which was incorporated in 1985 and renamed Schools Ministry Group in July 1991 – so we could be celebrating our 31st birthday this year! Our name stands for unity and partnership.

As you read about the formation of SMG in the insert Part 2 of the SMG journey, I want to say thank you to the courageous and innovative members of the Christian community. I want to honour the founders for their vision and unification of the church here in SA. And I want to say thank you to you – the supporter today as together, we continue the united work of SMG.


Kerryn Coombs


From Fight and Flight to Community Contributor

Justin* was known for his volatile emotional outbursts. Significant family disruption in his world would regularly overflow into the classroom. One moment he would be okay, the next a table had been flipped over and Justin was out in the yard. His teacher, Heidi Stokes says 

Justin was an unpredictable student who had next to no resilience or persistence, which resulted in him responding to situations in extreme emotional and physical ways. Often the fight or flight response kicked in. But Justin has come a really long way and I can see some significant changes in how he responds to situations. He has used the calm down breath many times now which shows his level of understanding from the lessons and activities we do as part of the Wellbeing Classroom. I would definitely recommend this program.

Justin’s way of dealing with emotion and social situations has changed so much he was recently awarded a Community Spirit Award for his caring attitude and willingness to help others by the Port Augusta Community Church. Your gift to this initiative will provide life changing tools and resources for children to build life and social skills.  *name has been changed to protect the student’s identity


Kerryn Coombs

Pinery Bushfire

above: Chaplains - Ryan Bernhardt, David Woodroofe, Melissa Semmler, Tracey Butter, Marg Reimann, Kristy Adams, Tania Cattell, Kathryn Soar and Merry Bennett

above: Chaplains - Ryan Bernhardt, David Woodroofe, Melissa Semmler, Tracey Butter, Marg Reimann, Kristy Adams, Tania Cattell, Kathryn Soar and Merry Bennett

The Pinery bushfires may seem like a distant memory for those of us who didn’t experience the devastation firsthand six months ago. However, for those who personally experienced the bushfire, it is continuing to influence their daily life in many ways both small and large.

Most of the towns in the region devastated by the bushfire have SMG School Chaplains in their schools. The Chaplains have been able to work together with local churches, school communities and other organisations to provide the love, care and practical support needed for families and the wider community impacted by this disaster.

Tracey Butter is the Chaplain at Hamley Bridge Primary School. On the day of the fires she decided to stay with her husband and defend their property. Their home was spared, many others were not.

The communities of Hamley Bridge, Stockport and Tarlee were devastated by the Pinery Fire. Students, families and staff lost homes, gardens, pets and livestock, extensive damage to outbuildings, machinery, fences, crops and pastures and much more. Continuous dust storms hampered recovery efforts through a hot dry summer.

Tracey has recently undertaken ‘Stormbirds’ training to equip her more fully to support her community. She also had the opportunity to help distribute to families donations made to local churches of quilts, blankets and sewing kits along with Red Cross donations of door and window dust stoppers.

“The Balaklava churches donated 500 Christmas food hampers to all residents in Hamley Bridge and Stockport. What an amazing and generous gift that touched so many people just before Christmas, and an example of a country town helping and supporting another town when it most needed it.”

Tania Cattell is the Chaplain at both Two Wells and Owen Primary Schools. She was not working at either school on the day of the fire, but when she heard that Mallala Primary School had been evacuated to Two Wells Primary she headed straight there to help and support the Mallala students and staff because she knew that they didn’t have a chaplain at their school to provide pastoral care. 

“The day after the fire I was asked to bring water, bread and cheese for the students, families and staff of Owen Primary, which I was able to do with donations from a local supermarket and Two Wells Primary. I supported the Principal Cheryl Glenie, with hugs as requested and a listening ear during a very difficult emotional and stressful day.” Tania provided other support for staff and families resourcing information regarding support services such as empty containers for storage, loan cars, Christmas gifts, clothing and much more.

above: Tania Cattell, Chaplain at Owen and Two Wells Primary Schools

above: Tania Cattell, Chaplain at Owen and Two Wells Primary Schools

Two Wells Primary was very supportive and freed me up from my Chaplaincy commitments there to have extra time at Owen Primary. They also donated the proceeds from their end of year concert BBQ to four of the schools in the region affected by fire.”

Ryan Bernhardt is the Chaplain at Balaklava High School. His local church was the main drop off point for public donations initially and is still actively involved in assisting affected families with food hampers, financial help and clean-up work.

One of the year 8 boys at my school lost everything. His family lost their home and most of their farm property and equipment was destroyed. One of his most prized possessions was a signed Woodville West Torrens Football Club Guernsey. He was devastated that it was gone. I made contact with some lovely people at the club, and they organised to send out another signed Guernsey. When I gave it to the young lad at school, he cried. He took off his jumper, slipped on the Club Guernsey, put his school jumper back on and left it on all day. His mum rang me and thanked me, and said he hadn’t taken it off till after school the next day. It was so special to be part of something that exciting.

What is seen driving through the area six months after the bushfire is still a very sad reminder of the devastation and loss.  What is unseen is the work of our Chaplains, local churches and the community coming together and supporting families and communities.

The Chaplains have provided a conduit for initial and ongoing pastoral care and practical support. Your continued prayer and financial gifts are vital in providing this important service to those affected by the Pinery fires, and across the state.

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