Clinical Pastoral Education

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Welcome to the Centre for Clinical Pastoral Education at the Royal Perth Bentley Group (RPBG). We conduct our units under the guidelines of the Association for Supervised and Clinical Pastoral Education in Victoria Incorporated (ASACPEV Inc). 

Photograph of an another successful CPE Bush camp

International Visiting Educator program embedded in Health: Recognising substantial value to our hospitals, patients, community partners and WA’s Spiritual Care community, the East Metropolitan Health Service Executive Officer has signed off on our proposal to incorporate an International Educator on our team for the summer months on an annual basis. This will allow us to host a full-time CPE course from November to February every year. We look forward to welcoming top Educators from the UK, Canada and America in the years ahead. Watch this space for an announcement of this year’s International Educator.

Summer Graduates

Photo of summer graduatesThe Centre for Wellbeing celebrated the graduation of four CPE students from their Summer 2023-2024 program.

Their educator, Dixie Potratz Lehman visited for three months from South Dakota.

This is what she has to say about the experience.

When I read the stories of each student in the application materials I fell in love with each student and saw possibilities for growth if the students were willing to embrace the process of Clinical Pastoral Education. Since I came from a different culture, the United States, the students were my cultural navigators to the Australian culture. Together we forged a bond as a group, starting with the Bush Experience, that connected us and allowed for trust to develop among us. This allowed the group process to develop greater intimacy in our community life that was new for most of the students that had never experienced such connection with people who were not family.

The patients in the two hospitals the students visited were such great teachers and provided an opportunity for the students to learn clinical skills and theological reflection with the issues the patients were facing that amazingly paralleled the students' lives as well. This surprised the students. They called it a thread in the story that I was able to pull and connect the patient's story with the student's story. When the student was willing to be open to this process the outcome was transformational for each of the students in their own way. It was humbling for me to participate in this Holy process with this CPE group. They will forever be in my heart. I am grateful for their willingness to trust me and allow me to work with them.

Rev. Dr. Dixie Potratz Lehman


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The Banyule Network in Victoria, at the invitation of The Centre for Wellbeing and Sustainable Practice is providing the Education Curriculum for a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Royal Perth Hospital.

The Centre for Wellbeing and Sustainable Practice continues their partnership with the Banyule Network. This helps address the needs of students requiring registration of their CPE credit with an Australian CPE association.

Please contact us for further information.



New Educator at RPBG

Photograph of Carolyn DaggersThe Centre for Wellbeing and Sustainable Practice once again has a Compassionate Care Educator on their team. Carolyn Daggers has worked at The Centre for Wellbeing and Sustainable Practice for four years. Her roles and experience include; Wellbeing and Spiritual Care Officer at Royal Perth and Bentley Hospitals, Wellbeing Facilitator at Bentley Hospital. In February 2024 Carolyn became accredited as a Clinical Pastoral Supervisor.


CPE Centres in Australia are registered with their state-based CPE Association.  We have chosen to conduct our courses under the auspices of the Royal Perth Bentley Group and its governing body — East Metropolitan Health Service.   

Our independence allows us flexibility to customise our education programs to better meet the needs of individual students and the diverse sectors in which they work.  The courses we offer meet or exceed the requirements set forth by most Australian and international CPE associations. 

The diverse and at times extreme clinical environments of our hospitals provide our students with the skills needed in any sector.

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"CPE in Royal Perth Hospital has been fundamental to my growth spiritually and emotionally. It has been a meaningful and enriching journey of self-discovery. The opportunity to attend classes and complete patient care hours at RPH provided the premise to apply person centred care to patients and their families. It promoted a deep understanding of self-reflection and service to others, values I hold deeply in my faith and spiritual practice. CPE allowed for immeasurable opportunities to support staff and develop collegial interaction within a multidisciplinary team." 

Ann Lopez, Graduate 2024






What our graduates and community partners want you to know:

Photograph of Louis Malzer"The independent status of the RPBG CPE Centre was not an issue for me. I learned so much over the three-month course that I am confident I will be a strong candidate for any Wellbeing or Spiritual Care position to which I will apply."

- Louis Malzer, Graduate 2023.






Photograph of David Bradbury“I was impressed by how our Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) Chaplains matured during their six-month Clinical Pastoral Education course, and the positivity that has manifested in their roles and consequently our Fortescue family since. I believe the RPBG CPE Course is an excellent way to upskill and develop any chaplain - particularly those working in mining and other Industrial sectors. The course would also be highly relevant for leaders who are committed to improving the wellbeing of their teammates, and for anyone whose role includes working with people experiencing the distress and joys of career and personal life."

- David Bradbury, Fortescue Pastoral Care - Group Chaplain, Fortescue Metals Group Limited.



CPE is designed to enhance self-awareness and compassion for professionals who care for, lead or teach others so they can more effectively foster resilience and wellbeing - in those they serve as well as in themselves. There are few, if any, education experiences which so effectively integrate personal and small group reflection, theoretical content, and practical experience. The education methods used in CPE were developed in the 1920s and have been continually refined over the past century. The course is appropriate for those of any worldview or affiliation - spiritual, religious, philosophical, or secular.

Our CPE courses are based on a 400-hour curriculum comprised of at least 100 hours of group and individual supervision/instruction, 100 hours of assignments and reflection, and a minimum of 200 hours of practicum. We offer courses in variety of formats: full time (typically 10-12 weeks, M-F 8:30am-4:30pm) and part time (typically 4-6 months, 1-3 days per week). 

The Curriculum

Each course follows a detailed timetable beginning with a multi-day induction and concluding with a student-designed graduation ceremony. All necessary course materials are provided in a comprehensive student handbook. The curriculum is sequentially designed to pace the students’ learning and to incorporate content relevant to the emerging learning needs at each stage of their development. Students prepare and present a variety of patient/client encounter reports, reflection papers, literature reviews and integrative activities. Students participate in frequent open groups to explore emerging issues of professional identity and practice, role-play seminars, individual supervisory sessions, and mid-term and final evaluations.

The Bush Experience

Most of our CPE courses begin with a 3-day outdoor education experience led by experienced bush guides. This event is designed to deepen the relationships among the students and educators, develop teamwork and cohesion of the peer group, to learn from the natural environment with its millennia of accumulated wisdom related to life, growth, crisis, death, and renewal.  This experience provides a shared framework which informs learning about self and others.

Course Theory

All aspects of the course are designed to facilitate students’ ability to understand, assess and respond to human experience of distress. Simply stated, distress occurs when the way things are is different that the way things are “supposed to be”. We consider distress to be a normal, healthy human response to an abnormal situation. Our students learn to identify their own and others’ internalised attitudes, values and assumptions which have the capacity to enhance resilience or to heighten distress.  They grow in their ability to offer a range of compassionate interventions in ways which help to reduce distress and facilitate healing in those for whom they provide care.


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Photograph of Carolyn Daggers


Carolyn Daggers is our new Compassionate Care Educator. Carolyn is an accredited Clinical Pastoral Supervisor. Carolyn brings a passion for accompanying CPE students on their learning journey as they explore and reflect to understand themselves. She emphasises the importance of effectively listening to others in such a way that people feel heard and understood. She seeks to affirm and gently challenge her students and does so with honesty, integrity, and compassion.

Carolyn has extensive spiritual care experience of working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds in both public and private hospitals and in the specialised areas of mental health and palliative care. Carolyn brings her life and prior career experiences as a primary school and specialist educator to her role.





What our graduates and community partners want you to know:

"Photograph of Jo WhitleyI will be forever grateful for Ted Hodge (International Educator 2019-2020). His influence on my life and career was profound. Ted’s experience, insights and supervision prepared me well for my work with VAD patients and their families across four hospitals in Perth."

Jo Whitley, Graduate 2020, Voluntary Assisted Dying Program Coordinator, East Metropolitan Health Service 




RPBG is an 825-bed, two-campus, acute care teaching hospital. We serve culturally, linguistically and economically diverse patients from across Western Australia. Specialties include Trauma, Mental Health, Intensive Care, Infectious Disease, Orthopaedics, Plastics, Haematology and a variety of other surgical and medical services.

As employees of a teaching hospital, RPBG staff know how to include and support students. Our centre has significant involvement with other interdisciplinary training programs. This means our CPE students interact with a variety of medical, nursing and allied health interns, enriching everyone’s learning. Our CPE students are enthusiastically welcomed by clinical staff who include them as members of the team and keep them busy with referrals.


What our graduates and community partners want you to know:

Photograph of Rajith Fernanado"If you learn to do Wellbeing and Spiritual Care at Royal Perth or Bentley, you can do it anywhere. I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the support of the amazing Wellbeing team."

- Rajith D. Fernando, Graduate, 2023






Photo of Brett Carruthers "I found the Clinical Pastoral Education course at RHP/Bentley group challenging but very rewarding. You are in an environment where you have an opportunity to look at how your own life experiences influences who you are, what you stand for and how you react to the rest of humanity. Those learnings have made me a better and more compassionate leader."
- Brett Carruthers
Summer 2023-2024




Photograph of LeeAnne Richardson


"Thanks to the many opportunities to interact with and care for staff, I am no longer intimidated by doctors and nurses… they are just people like my CPE peers and me."
- Leeanne Richardson, Graduate, 2022




Photograph of CWSP TeamFor over 150 years, our hospital has supported a Pastoral Care service; we are proud of that history. Over the past few decades however, the attitudes, values and assumptions of our patients and employees have changed, reflecting broader changes in Australia’s cultural norms and practices. While we have re-branded our service, we remain committed to the core pastoral values related to meaning, purpose, compassion, spirituality, connection to something greater, hope and peace. All our daily activities - individual care for patients and employees, wellbeing gatherings for staff, reflective peer groups for junior doctors and nurses, research, wellbeing education and special events - are modelled on traditional CPE practices.



Our team of sixteen Wellbeing and Spiritual Care professionals, all CPE trained, has won numerous state and national awards: WA Health Excellence Award (2017), Spiritual Care Australia Best of Care Team Award (2018), WA Health Roundtable (National Finalists, 2019) and the Australian Council of Health Care Standards Quality Improvement Award (High Commendation, 2018, 2019 and 2022). In addition, we have been invited presenters to the Australia New Zealand Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Spiritual Health Australia, Spiritual Care Australia, the WA Health Roundtable, the WA Clinical Senate and several Medical Education associations around the country.




Our respect and value within RPBG are significant. Each month we receive an average of 450 patient care referrals and have significant wellbeing engagements with over 250 employees. Our eight-hour Bonstato Wellbeing course, anchored in CPE principles and practices, has been completed by nearly a thousand employees. This means our workforce understands and values our CPE students and the work they do. These accomplishments set the stage for a stimulating, collaborative and innovative learning environment.

Thank you for your interest in Clinical Pastoral Education within the Royal Perth Bentley Group. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information. We look forward to receiving your application to one of our programs
Last Updated: 08/05/2024