The synod People and Culture team has recently updated policies and processes around managing volunteers.
Stephen Mullen, director of the synod’s People and Culture unit, said the amended policies particularly relate to congregations working with vulnerable individuals.
“We’ve updated volunteer processes with a significant focus for when our congregations are working with people who are in a special-needs category,” he said.
As an example how the guidelines will assist congregations, Mr Mullen cited instances where congregations may have arrangements without clear guidelines.
“We have congregations who run drop-in centres and have many people coming and going throughout the week,” he said.
“We’ve not really had any process for managing and dealing with those situations. The volunteer policy picks up on that gap and provides clear guidelines to assist congregations.”
As well as providing guidelines, Mr Mullen said it’s critical the UCA community continues to provide safe and supportive environments, particularly for vulnerable individuals.
“What we’re trying to do is pre-empt stronger guidelines coming out of the Royal Commission and make sure we communicate with congregations about the needs around working with children checks and police checks.
“We’re here to support congregations and are very happy to provide guidance from a process point of view.
“There are many congregations working with vulnerable people – this is a very important outreach for the Church.
“So it’s important we ensure the best possible structures are in place – it’s there as a support for congregations managing this aspect of the church.”
Commenting on the strong culture of volunteering in the Uniting Church, Mr Mullen said it was critical that congregations and other church groups were supported to continue volunteering arrangements.
“Volunteering is in our DNA as a community – the Uniting Church is built on and around volunteering.
“We’re trying to support that, if people have concerns they can contact us to make sure congregations can continue to operate in this space with confidence.”
For more information on the updated policy visit https://www.victas.uca.org.au/People-and-Culture or call 9251 5477.