Since late 2016, Anne has been busy making sure synod’s Keeping Children Safe policy and practices are understood and operating effectively in the churches that form the Port Phillip East and Yarra Yarra presbyteries.
“I think that compared to last year most of the congregations are really aware of the importance of the policy,” Anne said.
“Congregations have become more active than before, so I am really glad.
“Last year the temperature was quite cold because some churches thought ‘why do we have to do this? We don’t have any children in our congregation’.
“I hassled people a lot last year, but I hope they felt I did it for the right reasons.
“Now a lot has changed and congregations are really supportive and helpful. They try to comply with the policy as much as they can, it’s really good.”
Anne attributes much of the change to a general increase in awareness about the importance of protecting children from abuse.
“Society is actually talking about this,” she said.
“If you go onto the synod website or presbytery websites, or read Crosslight, people learn about the commitment to care for children.
“Everyone is now more aware that the whole society, the whole community is talking about children’s safety. We can’t just ignore it because we don’t have children.”
In the presbyteries Anne covers, there are four Korean congregations, some with large numbers of children.
“Some couldn’t clearly read all the documents as they were written in English,” Anne said.
“I translated some documents into Korean because my background is Korean so that actually helps a lot.”
The cultural background of some CALD communities can mean more conversations are required, particularly if people have been raised in a more hierarchical society.
Anne said that it is vital in those circumstances to get the church leadership on board.
“When the leadership actually realise the reality and importance of the policy and society’s movement in relation to children’s safety, it’s much easier for the whole congregation to come to understand that as well,” she said.
Anne said she recognised that for some churches, especially ones with smaller congregations, a problem in complying with Keeping Children Safe requirements was lack of human resources.
Despite only being part-time Anne does all she can to support such congregations and spreads out her two days of work over the entire week.
“I try to work nearly every day because I don’t want congregations to wait a long time until they hear from me,” Anne said.
“Whenever they email me or contact me I try to answer straight away.”
To find out more about the child safe project officers working in presbyteries or to access Keeping Children Safe information and resources, visit ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe