Linda Morris, Sydney Morning Herald: Offering religious guidance will be just one of the jobs of the newest chaplain in the NSW Police Force. Teaching Buddhist meditation techniques to strung-out officers and support staff will be another.
The Venerable Ban Ruo Shi, the abbott of the Hwa Tsang Monastery in Homebush, is the first Buddhist to be invested in the force.
He joins 102 part-timers, including a Muslim cleric and Jewish rabbi, as well as five full-time Christian chaplains, who provide advice and guidance to police and support staff.
The Venerable Ban Ruo, 34, was invested during a multi-faith service at police headquarters in Parramatta on May 29.
He was fitted for a police uniform this week and will wear it with a patch and insignia showing the dharma wheel as symbols of his faith.
A senior police chaplain, Alan Lowe, said the Venerable Ban Ruo could be called to attend train derailments and serious road accidents, ministering to rescue workers or families of those injured and killed. The Buddhist chaplain might also attend sieges and terrorist attacks.
“On a day-to-day basis he would be touching base with people at their place of work, mainly at police headquarters, where there are a number of Buddhists among the unsworn staff,” Mr Lowe said.
“We’ve for some time felt we could provide more services if we had a Buddhist on board and there was a number of unsworn personnel who were asking for someone who could provide pastoral support in times of crisis when things are going wrong in their lives.”
The Venerable Ban Ruo sees no conflict between his faith’s position of non-violence and ministering to front-line police.
He wants to organise meditation classes and teach relaxation skills and ways to achieve “happiness, kindness and an open mind” for whoever needs help, whatever their faith.
The Chinese-born chaplain studied Buddhism from the age of seven and graduated from Fujian Buddhist University, before moving to Australia in 1994.