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Interview with Craig Exon

Craig joined the SHA team on 14th March 2023, after three years as the Spiritual Care Manager at Alfred Health. Before that, Craig was a Senior Leader at the Salvation Army for 17 years, and also previously worked as a music teacher for the Department of Education in Tasmania. 

What does spirituality mean to you?

For me Spirituality is always about connection, firstly to self and truth of who we really are, to others we share life and space with and then finally and importantly to God – my tradition is Christian, so that’s my world view but I see that connection to the wider Spirit explored in every tradition enables us to connect more deeply with ourselves, so that we might really truly become…

How do you describe the work of a spiritual care practitioner?

The work of a Spiritual practitioner… presence, listener, advocate, story holder, permission giver, emotional supporter, and so much more. For me it is about engaging with the patient where they are at, building connection, sharing their story and experience, being their voice when they need it for family or medical teams, or other Allied Health teams, and creating a safe space to fall apart and be vulnerable.  I often said I met people on their worst days and helped them take a step forward in a helpful direction whatever that looks like.

What do you love about working in spiritual care?

The incredible stories I got to share. The journey of people’s lives I got to listen to and interact with.  Watching as people find peace and purpose and growth in often their worst and final days.   And I’m aware so many don’t have that opportunity which is why we are so valuable in that space.

What are some of the moments in your work as a spiritual care practitioner that stay with you?

There are so many specific patients and people that stay with you, who shared deeply from their life’s journey, that didn’t always end in a happy way, but always walked with peace and comfort.  Their names stay with me, even the ones who are still around to keep fighting (I worked mostly oncology/haematology) because it is a privilege to share that deeply in someone’s life journey.  My last visit with a patient was so powerful has they shared the benefit of just being present for them- had been so powerful in their cancer journey and their processing of all that had happened for them. 

What are you most looking forward to in this new role as Quality and Advocacy Leader with SHA?

I’m most looking forward to connecting with other Spiritual Care teams and build into the discipline of Spiritual Care as a whole.  I’m passionate about team building and seeing people and ideas reach their greatest potential.  I think we have an amazing opportunity post pandemic to be seen as vital and indispensable in the health system, because people are crying out for meaning, purpose, support and I am looking forward to the opportunity to advocate for Spiritual Care and the National Model to those who make the big decisions in the health services.

What inspires you?

I am passionate about all things Triathlon and Cycling, and the inspiration that a big physical challenge provides, as well as the team dynamic of being part of a club!

Favourite book/ film/ music?

I’m a big music buff, Love the music of U2 and the heart of their songs.   I pretty much cover all genres from Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift to the rock bands of the late 70’s 80’s and 90’s.   I’m currently enjoying building up a vinyl collection from scratch.  

I love movies that move me, such as Remember the Titans, but also the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Anything else you might like to share?

I am married to Sarah and father to 9 month old Audrey as well as Chandra (23) and Kaeyl (20)