St Stephens Anglican Church Belmont

St Stephens Anglican Church Belmont

Safe Church Policy For children and culture

Child Safe Faith Community Policy

Approved by Archbishop in Council 22 March 2018


OUR COMMITMENT TO CHILD SAFETY

This Policy is made by the Archbishop in Council of the Diocese as the governing

body of the Diocese and in compliance with the requirement of Victorian legislation

to meet prescribed child safe standards.


The Anglican Church of Australia within the Diocese of Melbourne, including its

Cathedral Church of St Paul and each parish or congregation or faith community

within the diocese (the Church) is committed to child safe practice. The care, the

safety and the welfare of children are embedded in policies and practices which are

intended to reflect a commitment to zero tolerance of child abuse.  When Jesus uttered his beautiful words, ‘let the children come to me and do not hinder them’ (Matt 19:14) he set the benchmark for us. We want to continue to be a Church where children and families are welcome and participate fully. We want to be

an open community where people of all ages gather and interact. We want to be a

Church where children and young people are fully engaged and have every

opportunity to flourish and grow. We want to be a safe place and to put no barriers in place that will harm or hinder children and young people. In all its actions and programs, we seek to maintain high ethical standards and work in accordance with child safe practices and child protection reporting guidelines. The participation and empowerment of all children is a consideration in decision-making, as we seek to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children are respected and listened to.


The Church has zero tolerance of child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our robust policies and

procedures. We have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously. We are committed to

preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these

risks.


WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?

What constitutes abuse and neglect is defined in the Professional Standards

legislation of the Diocese and includes but is not limited to:

PHYSICAL

This means intentionally causing, or threatening to cause, physical injury to a child, or

inadvertently causing injury as a consequence of physical punishment or physically

1 Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, s20, standard No 2.

2 aggressive treatment of a child. The injury may take the form of bruises, cuts, burns or fractures.

SEXUAL

A child is sexually abused when any person uses their authority over the child to

involve the child in sexual activity. Child sexual abuse involves a wide range of

sexual activity including fondling genitals, masturbation, vaginal or anal penetration

by a finger, penis or any other object, voyeurism and exhibitionism.

EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL & SPIRTUAL

This occurs when a person engages in inappropriate behaviour, such as rejecting,

ignoring, humiliating, isolating, threatening or verbally abusing a child, or allowing

others to do so. Because this kind of abuse does not leave physical injuries, it is

often hidden and underestimated.

NEGLECT

The failure of a parent or guardian to provide a child with the basic necessities of life where the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm to his or her

wellbeing or development.

RACIAL, CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS

This is conduct that demonstrates contempt, ridicule, hatred or negativity towards a child because of their race, culture or religion. It may be overt, such as direct racial

vilification or discrimination, or covert, such as demonstrating a lack of cultural

respect (attitude and values) and awareness (knowledge and understanding) or

failing to provide positive images about another culture.


TRAINING AND SUPERVISION

We, the Church are committed to regularly training and educating our office holders, staff and volunteers on child safety issues. They must all agree to abide by our Code of Conduct for Child Safety, which specifies the standards of conduct and

guidelines required when working with children.  raining and education are important to ensure that everyone in the Church understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility. We aim to conduct training primarily through Professional Standards workshops and other forums, such as Occupational Health and Safety seminars, meetings and online information. The Church aims for all its office holders, staff and volunteers, parents and children to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. We aim to provide information to assist our office holders, staff and volunteers identify and minimise risks of child abuse. We also support our staff and volunteers through ongoing supervision to: develop their skills to protect children from abuse; and promote the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from linguistically and/or diverse backgrounds, and the safety of children with a disability.


RECRUITMENT

New employees and volunteers will be supervised regularly to ensure they understand the Church’s commitment to child safety and that everyone has a role to play in protecting children from abuse, as well as checking that their behaviour towards children is safe and appropriate. Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through appropriate channels, including the Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police, depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.  We will take all reasonable steps to employ skilled people to work with children. We will use selection criteria and advertisements which clearly demonstrate our commitment to child safety and an awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities. The Church understands that when recruiting staff and volunteers we have ethical as well as legislative obligations. We actively encourage applications from Aboriginal peoples, people from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with a disability. All people engaged in child-related work, including clergy, office holders and volunteers, are required to hold a Working with Children Check and to provide evidence of this Check. We refer to the Working with Children Check website (www. workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au) for further information. They must also obtain a clearance for service from the Kooyoora Office of Professional

Standards as provided in the Professional Standards legislation of the Diocese and

the Clearance for Service Protocol. The Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards carries out reference checks and police record checks to ensure that the Church appoints the right people. If during the recruitment process a person’s records indicate a criminal history then the person will be given the opportunity to provide further information and context. We support and respect all children. We are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as the safety of children with a disability. We have specific policies, procedures and training in place that support our leadership team, staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments.


FAIR PROCEDURES FOR PERSONNEL

The safety and wellbeing of children is our primary concern. We are also fair and

just to our office holders, staff and volunteers. The decisions we make when

recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary and or professional

standards action will always be thorough, transparent, and based on evidence.

The Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards will record all allegations of abuse

and safety concerns using our incident reporting form, including investigation

updates. All records are securely stored. Under the Professional Standards legislation, an allegation of abuse is confidential and must be treated as confidential in the Church.


PRIVACY

In storing personal information, we will respect the privacy of the

individuals involved, whether they are office holders, staff, volunteers, parents

or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will have access to it. The Professional Standards legislation prescribes these matters.


LEGISLATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES

We affirm that we must comply with applicable mandatory reporting obligations in

both State legislation and the Professional Standards legislation of the Church.

Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults in

Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence

against a child under 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.

We affirm that those in the Church with the relevant power or responsibility must not negligently fail to reduce or remove the risk that a child will become the victim of a sexual offence committed by a person of or over the age of 18 years who is

associated with the Church. Through the Code of Conduct for Child Safety, the Professional Standards workshops and training, we aim to ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of their statutory and ethical obligations.


RISK MANAGEMENT

In Victoria, organisations are required to protect children when a risk is identified

(see information about failure to protect above). In addition to general occupational

health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children. The Church has risk management strategies in place to identify, assess, and take steps 

to minimise child abuse risks, which include risks posed by physical environments (for example, any doors that can lock), and online environments (for example, no staff or volunteer is to have contact with a child in organisations on social media).

The Church is committed to systematic risk identification and management and acting to introduce measures that reduce or remove identified risk. The Church will utilize the existing risk management framework (led by the Board of the Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Corporation Ltd) to directly address and manage the risk profile. In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.


REGULAR REVIEW

The Archbishop in Council of the Diocese will review this policy and statement of

commitment every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We will ensure that families and children have the opportunity to contribute. Where possible we do our best to work with local Aboriginal communities, culturally and/or

linguistically diverse communities and people with a disability.


ALLEGATIONS, CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS

We work to ensure all children, families, staff and volunteers know what to do and

who to tell if they observe abuse or are a victim, and if they notice inappropriate

behaviour. We all have a responsibility to report an allegation of abuse if we have a reasonable belief that an incident took place (see information about failure to disclose above). If an adult has a reasonable belief that an incident has occurred then they must report the incident. Factors contributing to reasonable belief may be:

• a child states they or someone they know has been abused (noting that

sometimes the child may in fact be referring to themselves)

• behaviour consistent with that of an abuse victim is observed

• someone else has raised a suspicion of abuse but is unwilling to report it

• observing suspicious behaviour.


CHILD SAFE OFFICER

The Child Safe Officer in a parish or congregation or in the Cathedral is a point of

contact for those who have questions or concerns:

CHILD SAFE OFFICER NAME: Mrs Pamela Osborn

CHILD SAFE OFFICER NUMBER: 0425 729 163


KOOYOORA Office of Professional Standards.

The Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards responds as required to all

complaints of misconduct including sexual, physical, spiritual or emotional abuse

by clergy or Church officers. Any reporting of abuse to the Church must be to the

Director of Professional Standards at the Kooyoora office. The first step in making a complaint is to call the recorded information line at any time on: 1800 135 246

Important contact numbers:

Police - 000

Child Protection - 1300 360 391

Kooyoora - 1800 135 246

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SAFE CHURCH POLICY FOR WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Preventing Family Violence and Violence against Women

 We recognise that:

· Family violence and violence against women are widespread and serious issues, which happen in church families as well as in wider society.

· Family violence can take many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, spiritual, emotional, social, and financial abuse 

· Family violence and violence against women in all its forms are unacceptable and irreconcilable with Christian faith and a Christian way of living.

· The misuse of Scripture and Christian teaching to justify family violence and to prevent the person experiencing violence from seeking safety is wrong and places them in danger.


In our church and community we commit to:

· Listening to and supporting people affected by family violence against women.

· Making the safety of the person or people experiencing family violence and/or violence against women our highest priority.

· Working with professional family violence and violence against women services, referring people experiencing violence to them and seeking their advice.

Actively promoting gender equality and speaking out on violence against women. 



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