Chaplains have been associated with the military for centuries and were often referred to in historical records of famous battles.
The chaplain always had a dual role – rendering spiritual support to the king and his court, and to the soldiers who went into battle.
In Australia, the first chaplains were appointed to the Australian Military Forces in 1913.
On 24 October 1786, the Reverend Richard Johnstone was appointed by George III to accompany the fleet to serve as Colonial Chaplain.
The first informal provision of police chaplaincy in the United Kingdom occurred in 1842 when the London City Mission offered pastoral support to widows of serving police officers. This was formalised in 1851.
In NSW, the Guild of St Christopher was founded in 1933. They provided support and fellowship for Catholic police officers decades before a formal arrangement was put in place. The Chaplain to the Guild was part of the ministry belonging to St Mary’s Cathedral.
In 1972, Father Jim Boland, in Cabramatta began assisting police referred to him by the Police Medical Branch.
In 1980, the first honorary chaplains were formally appointed within the NSW Police. Senior chaplains were issued with official Identification Certificates.
The first chaplain outside the Sydney area was Father Peter Unwin who was appointed to Broken Hill on 13 August 1981.
In 1986, Father Jim Boland was appointed as the first full-time Police Chaplain (RC).
1988 saw the appointment of two further full-time chaplains: Father Peter Mumford (Anglican) and Major Errol Woodbery (Protestant Denominations).
In 1993, the first full-time Chaplain was appointed to the Police College (then known as the Academy) – Father Barry Dwyer. Following Father Dwyer, in 2000 was Father Hartley Hansford. The current incumbent is Rev Peter Robinson.