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Association for Supervised
Pastoral Education in Australia (ASPEA Inc)


Executive Committee

President’s Message

January 2016

Welcome to the ASPEA Inc. Website!  I begin my term as President with the consciousness that beginnings are not beginnings of themselves but signify the continuation of the journey.  To stand on the threshold of a new beginning is to recognise commitment to growth and to change.  To welcome new beginnings and to step into change is to say yes to the standing invitation to become more fully ourselves, who we are each uniquely called to be.  We must first start with ourselves.  I welcome the new, as well as existing, members of the Executive and invite you to read the profile of each on our Executive page.

Every association has its central (founding) story, its point of orientation and its frame of reference.  I find the central story of our association of ASPEA Inc., my point of orientation and frame of reference, in the words of the founding father of Clinical Pastoral Education, Anton Boisen (1876-1965) who referred to the person as “the living human document.”  Boisen’s choice of words is fascinating.  They draw attention to and uphold the experience of the ‘one’ as the central document, the lamp unto our feet, that ought concern us and keep drawing us back from the weight and dullness of policies and procedures to enliven our way forward with fresh insight.  Attention to the Standards of ASPEA Inc. and their improvement is essential, and the living human document must remain our point of orientation and frame of reference.

Boisen’s words are arresting because they rise from the depth of his personal experience of mental illness, and the importance he places on reflection on this personal experience as an opportunity and source of education, to see himself as the informing document and locus of experience.  While the living human document refers to the person, it is also a dynamic expression with ripple effect that invites curiosity and intrigue and call to growth and to change and to new beginnings.  It is in fact foundational to the understanding and appreciation of the term ‘person-centred care’ in healthcare which is becoming increasingly commonplace in its usage that it casually rolls off the tongue.  ‘Person-centred care’ may in fact be in danger of becoming something to which we simply pay lip-service unless we are first convicted of Boisen’s words and fully realise what it means to put the person at the centre.  As a student of Yarra Theological Union over many years I valued the culture of the College which complemented the rich experience of theological education I absorbed.  This whole experience was aptly captured for me in the College’s commissioning of students with the words on its letterhead inviting students to integrate their education by way of a personal search for wisdom.  I hold these words alongside the living human document in the resonance for me of beginning with ourselves and commitment to one’s personal search.

The challenge we face in our technological age is instant communication that demands an instant response, such as email correspondence, so that reflection is becoming a lost art.  This is a particular challenge for our association of ASPEA Inc. where reflection upon experience is at the heart of our training and education.  The technology we look to to serve us may in fact do us a disservice if we are not attentive.  As supervisors in Clinical Pastoral Education we are challenged each day to put into practice the very reflection we seek to promote, to realise that the locus of our education lies in the living human document.

My experience and education in Pastoral Care, as Pastoral Care Practitioner/Chaplain and Supervisor spanning twenty years, includes fifteen years employment in the clinical environment namely psychiatric and general hospital settings, palliative care and aged care, and intentional reflection upon these commitments, as well as two years training and on-call work in the clinical setting.  While I have been involved in a writing project in the last two plus years inspired by this clinical work, it is necessary for me to be plunged back into the clinical environment every so often, as I have had significant unexpected opportunity during this time, which brings me buoyancy and confirmation of the written word and its relevance.  I consider that I have received my qualifying credentials and commissioning from my interest in, and commitment to, the living human document over these years in Pastoral Practice.  In my notetaking verbatim from many years ago I recorded that I was asked by a few people to whom I was called to be with as Chaplain in mental health to promise to keep up this work.

The inspiring spiritual writer and teacher Henri Nouwen cautions us that to be authentic leaders and educators, committed to our own growth and to the growth of others, does not come cheaply and requires the giving of one’s whole self in his statement that it is the person who has invested many hours being with the one who is likely the best person to speak to the needs of the many.

Carina Lobo



ASPEA President's 2014 Report

Bernadette presented this Presidents Report at the AGM in November 2014. Download Here


ASPEA Inc’s Mission

ASPEA Inc exists to educate and accredit both lay and ordained women and men for their excellence in pastoral practice. These goals are achieved by providing supervised pastoral education, professional support and recognition of its members.

ASPEA Inc’s Principles

  1. Recognition of Supervised Pastoral Education (SPE) in all its diversity while always drawing inspiration from the Association's main form of SPE in Clinical Pastoral Education.
  2. The continuity of education and learning through the cycle of action and reflection on the experience of pastoral practice and relationships.
  3. Reverence for and recognition of the potential of the human person for transformation, while also recognising the reality of evil and human fallibility.
  4. Rigorous professional standards and the application of these standards in the supervision and monitoring of pastoral practice.
  5. Recognition of personal responsibility for the taking up on one's own life and ongoing growth.
  6. Belief in the spirituality of each person and the fostering of personal freedom within the relationship between human beings and thier spirituality.
  7. Recognition of :
    • the importance of the Association's Christian origins and values
    • the welcome of interfaith membership of the Association.
  8. Furthering the integration of theological reflection in all spects of the life of the Association.

ASPEA Inc’s Vision

ASPEA Inc will be renowned and sought out for its outstanding ecumenical supervisory practices, promoting both established and leading edge pastoral practice whether to individuals, communities or institutions.


ASPEA Inc Committees

Executive Committee is responsible for decision making on behalf of the Association and reports to the Annual General Meeting.

Registration & Certification Committee is responsible for the processing of :

A Finger Pointing to the Moon - Front Cover

Special Projects Committee is convened to undertake Special Projects as required by the Executive.

In 2003 ‘A Finger Pointing to the Moon’, a history of the Association for Supervised Pastoral Education in Australia 1967-2000 was published.

See History of ASPEA Inc for details.

The Membership Committee of ASPEA Inc is responsible for :