The Vic/Tas synod’s new Keeping Children Safe policy will be available to download this month, along with a number of resources to help implement it.
This policy replaces all previous documents, which are no longer current and should not be referred to.
“Preventing child abuse is both an individual and collective responsibility of the Uniting Church, and all who engage with it,” the policy states.
“Wherever the policy says ‘we’, it is referring to every entity and every individual connected with the Uniting Church.”
The policy has been revised to be compliant with Victorian Child Safe Standards, which became law at the start of this year.
It is also is in accordance with flagged recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Uniting Church’s National Child Safe Policy Framework.
“As a community of faith, we are committed to providing safe environments for all people, including children, so that they may live life in all its fullness,” the Framework says.
Synod’s Culture of Safety unit is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Keeping Children Safe policy.
“This policy represents the church meeting the standards that society, and our faith, expects in providing a safe environment for children,” safe church educator Josh Woollett said.
The new policy covers recruitment, codes of conduct, risk assessment and gives clear guidelines for reporting a concern.
A website will outline the policy and provide all the associated forms, training material and templates in one easy to navigate space.
Under the Synod’s Working with Children Check/Registration policy all appointed church leaders, employees and volunteers who, as part of their role interact with children, are required to have a Working With Children Check (Vic) or Registration (Tas).
These processes screen applicants for offences relevant to the safety of children, such as serious sexual, violent or drug crimes and are different from a National Criminal History Check, commonly called a police check.
“Not only is it the law but the Church is called to be a place where children are nurtured and protected,” Mr Woollett said.
The policy will be formally reviewed and updated at least every two years and continuously modified in the light of new research or as guidelines or standards are introduced by the Uniting Church or relevant governments.
The website will be continually refined to offer the best support and resources and will be live by mid-June – www.ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe
Any concerns or questions can be directed to Josh.Woollett@victas.uca.org.au.
Some common Keeping Children Safe myths
Myth: Everyone needs a WWCC/R to participate in the life of congregations, even to attend.
Reality: False – appointed leaders are required to hold positive WWCC/R’s, people attending services do not
Myth: An elderly person shouldn’t have to get a WWCC/R
Reality: False – The legislation does not have a ceiling (an upper age limit) so someone of advanced age, wishing to remain in leadership is required to obtain a WWCC/R
Myth: A WWWC/R is the way the state “gets” at the church
Reality: False – A WWCC/R is common currency across the community and is required to participate in community life especially where it involves children (football clubs, swimming teams also require them)