We are the Australian Faith Community Nurses Association Inc. (AFCNA). We are the peak professional body for Faith Community Nurses (FCN) working in the Health and Care Ministries (HCM) of the Christian churches/faith communities in Australia.
The Australian Faith Community Nurses Association educates, develops and supports professional FCNs for health and care ministries undertaken by Australian Christian faith communities.
We aim to be the leading ecumenical organisation that inspires, progresses and promotes Christian Health and Care Ministry (HCM) in Australia by:
- Providing nurses working in faith communities with education, resources, professional standards, and networking opportunities;
- Providing the faith community with resources, education and consultancy to enable them to commence, nurture and sustain viable health and care ministries;
- Providing the community with a quality service that meets the physical, mental and spiritual needs of individuals and families in the context of a supportive faith community;
- Providing promotion and publicity of the Faith Community Nurse (FCN) role; liaising with government, organisations and comparable professional bodies locally, nationally and internationally on behalf of FCNs and their employing bodies.
AFCNA is a charitable, non-profit institution that exists for the public benefit to promote whole-person health, prevent disease, and manage illness in human beings via the Christian church’s health and care ministry. Our specific focus is on faith community nurses (also known as parish nurses and pastoral nurses).
AFCNA began in Adelaide, South Australia in 1996 and was incorporated in 1997 as an ecumenical Christian organisation that recognised the unique opportunities of health and care ministry by FCNs in Australia. AFCNA provides nurses and others working in the Christian church’s HCM with networking, education, resources and consultancy. Specific training programs and educational material have been developed for the Australian context.
The FCN role is a special advanced practice nursing role. Practising FCNs must hold current AHPRA nursing registration and have several years of clinical experience and a demonstrated spiritually maturity in their Christian faith. FCNs work with people of any faiths, or no faith, as well as people within their own faith community. FCNs seek to promote holistic health, prevent disease, facilitate the social preconditions for community and personal health, and assist people in chronic disease/condition self-management.
AFCNA membership is open to everyone because HCM is the work of all Christians, so like-minded individuals are welcome to be involved. Pastoral care workers are encouraged to be involved as are members of the HCM team that provide care to people in the community.
AFCNA members are provided with:
- an 'Introductory' Course/Conference opportunity annually
- consultancy re health promotion and FCN practice issues
- resources to fulfil the FCN role
- peer networking
- research consultation
- publicity brochures
- newsletters with health promotion information, 3 per year
- practice standards (under review 2013/2014)
- continuing education
- a resource manual (under review 2013/2014 enquire firstname.lastname@example.org)
The extended open hand symbolises the FCN/HCM worker
The extended open hand symbolises the FCN/HCM worker and the support, guidance, nurture, care and compassion she/he affords all individuals within and beyond the faith community – promoting health and empowering them in the process of being and becoming.
The unfolding flower symbolises the faith community
The stylised unfolding flower symbolises the faith community and the freedom it provides for people to seek and live an abundant life. Each person within the faith community is thus symbolised as unfolding - fulfilling their potential, growing toward wholeness. The FCN/HCM worker is connected to, and in relation with the faith community, which is at the centre of her/his ministry.
The descending dove symbolises the Holy Spirit
The flower may also be interpreted as a descending dove symbolising the Holy Spirit’s empowerment of the FCN/HCM worker enabling her/him to react and respond to others with the love of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is central to the FCN’s life and professional practice and the faith community’s growth and vitality.
View an article of interest "The history of Australian faith community nursing".
Faith community nursing has its historical origins within the religious orders and deaconess movements of the early Christian church. The late Reverend Granger Westberg, an advocate of holistic health care, reinvigorated this movement in the 1980s by introducing parish nursing to the USA. Westberg realised that nurses had broad knowledge across the health disciplines, which provided the requisite professional linkages for care of the whole person.
The specialty of faith community nursing formally commenced in Australia in February 1996, when a seminar to introduce the FCN role was held in Adelaide, South Australia. Five faith communities (1 Lutheran, 1 Anglican, 2 Roman Catholic parishes, and 1 ecumenical agency working with homeless youth) began a demonstration project later that year, under the coordination of Anne van Loon. AFCNA was formed in 1996 to support FCNs in this new specialty practice.
The first AFCNA quarterly newsletter was produced in May 1996. AFCNA was incorporated in May 1997 and held its first FCN preparation course in July 1997. Courses have been held most years since then in Australia and in New Zealand which has commenced its own association the ‘New Zealand Faith Community Nurses Association’ in 2000.