ABC is committed to providing a safe church environment in which to carry out our ministry programs. For this reason in 2012 a number of Deacons and ABC staff attended the BUV Safe Church Awareness Workshop. The BUV workshops are aimed at helping local congregations establish and maintain safe ministry and to provide a holistic church ministry. The Deacons are preparing an ABC Safe Church Policy based on a sample policy published by the BUV. Further details will be provided at the Church meeting to be held on Sunday 30 March. For more information please refer to the BUV website Safe Church Resources
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has held a number of conferences since 2004 regarding Professional Standards in the Christian Church.
The NCAA states in its website that "[i]t is becoming clearer to Australian Churches that we are faced with a growing challenge: providing safe church environments in which to carry out ministry programs. This challenge is reflected not only in claims and cases of sexual misconduct in our faith communities, but also in the lack of knowledge at a congregational level; as to how we are to discharge our duty of care, and about the dynamics of power in leadership relationships. In response to this challenge many Christian denominations have established strategies aimed at accountability and transparency in relationships and programs."
In response to various NCCA inter-denominational conferences held under the banner of 'Safe as Churches' the BUV has been conducting workshops since 2012 with the aim of helping local congregations establish and maintain safe ministry, and to provide a holistic church ministry.
We at ABC are committed to providing a safe church environment in which to carry out our ministry programs and for this reason in 2012 some Deacons and ABC staff attended the BUV Safe Church workshop.
After attending the BUV workshops the Diaconate decided that ABC should have a policy to protect vulnerable people, consistent with BUV recommendations aimed at providing a holistic church ministry. Vulnerable people include children, youth and those adults susceptible to abuse or exploitation based on various factors including their health, age, grief, social isolation or financial hardship.
Trinidad Wallace has been assisting the Deacons in developing an ABC Safe Church Policy based on the BUV sample policy published by the BUV. Once the policy is finalised and has been circulated among leaders and volunteers, the Deacons will be asking ABC members to endorse the policy.
The goals of the proposed ABC Safe Church Policy are to:
- Minimise risk of abuse, ministry misconduct and misuse of position power within the church;
- Ensure that all cases of actual or suspected abuse and ministry misconduct are handled in a consistent, unbiased and thorough manner;
- Ensure that all leaders and programs are safe;
- Ensure that all people in our Church or taking part in Church activities are respected and valued irrespective of their gender, age, country of origin, cultural heritage, sexuality, socio-economic background or ability.
Under the proposed ABC Safe Church Policy, our Church is committed to:
- Safe recruitment of leaders by implementing a ministry approval process
- Responding to allegations of risk of harm, abuse and serious ministry misconduct
- Providing emotionally safe and physically safe environments
This means that volunteers involved in activities with vulnerable people may be asked to obtain a basic police check and complete the "Safe Ministry Check" questionnaire recommended by the BUV.
People involved in children's ministries will continue to be required to pass a WWC check.
It is also envisaged that volunteers will have attended ABC for a minimum period of 6 months before they may take part in ministry with vulnerable people, but the Deacons have discretion to waive this requirement depending on the circumstances (e.g. one off involvement, where the person comes recommended by another church).
Staff, deacons and volunteers appointed to a leadership position will attend the BUV workshop on safe churches within one year of being appointed and thereafter every 3 years.
Once finalised, a copy of the ABC Safe Church Policy will be provided to the members for endorsement at a later Church meeting.
The ABC Safe Church Policy will be supported by the ABC Safe Church Procedures Manual which provides guidance to leaders and volunteers on how to respond to allegations of abuse, and how to report abuse.
In line with BUV recommendations, the ABC Safe Church Policy anticipates the appointment of a "Safe Ministry Concerns Person" to receive and deal with reports of abuse in accordance with the Safe Church Procedures. The appointment of the Safe Ministry Concerns Persons will require Church endorsement.
If you would like more information on the BUV's sample policy and other documents relating to safe church ministry, please refer to the BUV website Safe Church Resources.