Chaplain tackling alcohol and gambling issues

In his role as a chaplain, Russell Hinds has supported some of Australia’s top sports stars.

“Chaplaincy has been a big part of my life, having now served at four Olympics, one Commonwealth Games, a National Rugby League team, and cricket at the state and national levels,” Russell said.

Now Russell assists people facing personal challenges at a different type of sports club. Rather than rubbing shoulders with athletes, he interacts with people such as problem gamblers and those facing financial hardship at a licensed venue on the Gold Coast.

Russell Hinds with Jade Francis (Club Helensvale Operations Manager) and Kelsey Cottrell (Club Helensvale Community & Marketing Manager and lawn bowls world champion)
Chaplain Russell Hinds, Jade Francis and Kelsey Cottrell from Club Helensvale, supports bowls club patrons with concerns such as gambling issues and financial hardship.

As part of an initial two-year partnership with CrossLife Baptist Church, Russell is the new chaplain at Club Helensvale. The ministry is funded by Carinity’s Collaborative Community Projects.

“I am available to all the staff and patrons of the club, whether they just want to have a coffee and someone to talk to confidentially, or they need help with something specific,” said Russell, a church pastor of 45 years.

“My role is to be a listening ear and then, when requested, put them in touch with the appropriate people that may be of assistance to them.

“I have been sought out by a few folk seeking help to deal with some personal and age-related issues along with someone seeking some spiritual guidance.”

Matt Hunt, Lead Pastor at CrossLife Baptist Church, said the genesis for the chaplaincy project began three years ago.

“It was actually the club which made the first move. They requested if we could assist them in finding a chaplain to provide direct support to its staff. The club also wanted to provide a chaplain, with referral links, for members and patrons,” Matt said.

CrossLife Baptist Church Lead Pastor, Matt Hunt, with Chaplain Russell Hinds at Club Helensvale on the Gold Coast
CrossLife Baptist Church Lead Pastor, Matt Hunt, with Chaplain Russell Hinds at Club Helensvale on the Gold Coast.

Club Helensvale General Manager, Damon Gerebtzoff, said enlisting a chaplain is part of the club’s commitment to “preventing any negative impacts of alcohol and gambling on our members and the community”.

“Russell is also providing guidance and support for people with mental health issues. We recognise that is a very real problem in modern society,” Damon said.

“Having a chaplain that is visible and on site has been received very well. Most clubs that I know don’t have a chaplain, however I believe that it will be a growing trend.”

CrossLife was one of eight Queensland Baptist churches allocated funding in the latest round of Collaborative Community Projects grants, a program that helps churches address serious societal issues in their communities.

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