Official policies are now in place on how to respond to anyone in congregations with a propensity for sexual offending. The Creating a Safe Environment for Children and Vulnerable Adults (CSECVA) policies are the next move by the Culture of Safety unit to establish a best practice identification, response and reporting process to prevent sexual abuse in congregations within the Victoria and Tasmania Synod.
The CSECVA requirements are designed to include members, church councils, presbyteries and the Synod in the assessment process, and provide a framework to work out the best course of action for each situation.
“This is really important for the church as a whole and requires everyone to take responsibility to help improve the safety of those who may be vulnerable to sexual predation in the church,” said Rev Lauren Mosso, Ethical Standards Officer for the Synod.
“With the policy we are able to develop and share with other Uniting Churches and denominations key information which can provide and improve a wider culture of safety.
“The CSECVA polices have been issued to churches and the Culture of Safety unit is supporting this by rolling out a training and education program. All churches are highly encouraged to participate.
“We know it’s not an easy subject to confront but we hope with these policies in place and understood by our congregations, they will be better able to protect themselves and others from incidents happening in the future,” Ms Mosso said.
The policies come at a critical time. The current Victorian Inquiry and Federal Royal Commission have highlighted the need to improve practices of safety in religious and care organisations. There have also been specific incidents in recent times at the Uniting Church which have prompted the need for the Culture of Safety unit to provide these policies.
“All of this has been a real wakeup call and everyone in the wider church needs to take responsibility to improve the culture of safety. The CSECVA policies place us in good stead to show the community we are doing all we can to protect vulnerable people in our congregations,” Ms Mosso said.
For further information on how safe church training can help your congregation implement these policies, contact Mr Josh Woollett, Synod Safe Church Educator on 9340 8810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.