Safe Church: A safe place for all people
The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to providing a safe place for all.
Looking back at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, we can see the momentous impact it made on society, churches, other institutions, and the lives and safety of children.
In response, changes have been implemented in Uniting Church policy and practice, impacting congregations, schools, councils and agencies. The Church has grown in its understanding of the responsibilities involved in the safety of children and vulnerable people.
A part of that vigilance is investment in training to meet the Child Safe Standards set by the Office of the NSW Children’s Guardian. Additionally, work has been completed to address risk and ensure clear reporting and accountability mechanisms are in place.
The commitment in NSW and ACT includes the establishment of a Synod Safe Church Unit (SSCU) entrusted with the task of staying on track, keeping up to date and delivering on all new initiatives. The SSCU works closely with the National Safe Church Unit ensuring national consistency while complying with relevant State and Territory legislative requirements.
The Synod Safe Church Unit is the responsibility of the Associate Secretary, Rev. Bronwyn Murphy.
Rev. Tara Curlewis is providing supply in the role of Relationships Minister and Anne Empson has taken on the role of Quality and Compliance Manager. The Unit is also supported administratively by the Synod Secretariat.
The SSCU is available to support the Church, in all its contexts, to understand, interpret and enable implementation of the National Child Safety Policy Framework. Our unfailing commitment is to child safety vigilance, reconciliation and the rebuilding of trust.
What else does the Synod SAFE CHURCH UNIT do?
Speak Out: This is an independently run hotline, available for anyone to report a wide range of issues confidentially or anonymously.
Safe Church Workshops: These workshops began in 2008 and align with the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), Safe Church Training Agreement (SCTA) standards. This agreement means people can attend any training in any of the 36 partner denominations and be accredited.
The Safe Church Awareness Workshops address topics such as: safe church foundations (duty of care, transparency and accountability); child and vulnerable person’s protection; understanding and responding to abuse; protective behaviours; safe leadership; and safe programs and environments.
To date these workshops have been delivered face to face. A part of our commitment to providing access for all, the National Safe Church Unit is currently working with the Synods to deliver online training in 2021. If you need to complete or refresh your training before then, please contact the Safe Church Unit..
Person of Concern: As an inclusive church, we wish to welcome all people. Sadly, not all people are safe for children and vulnerable people. Person of concern is a process to ensure the church and community members are safe at all times.
School Religious Education: We have over 300 committed Scripture teachers in our Synod. Each must be trained and authorised by UCA and the Department of Education.
Working with Children Check (WWCC) and Working with Vulnerable Persons Check (WWVC): To work with children or vulnerable people, it is a legal requirement to hold a valid WWCC or WWVC. This applies to all ordained ministers, ministry of pastor roles, and all people who work with children or vulnerable people. The check must be kept up to date and valid. Recent legislative changes mean anyone who holds a WWCC in NSW is a mandatory reporter.
Mandatory Reporting and Reportable Conduct: Ensuring completion of the Church’s commitments to the Children’s Royal Commission; the SSCU will assist all leaders to be equipped for reporting responsibilities through training and education as appropriate for a range of activities that deliver on our commitment to safety for all people.
As we move into the future, it is our hope and our prayer that all people will feel valued, included and safe in the Uniting Church. The Synod Safe Church Unit welcomes your enquiries and looks forward to supporting you in this work.
You can contact the Synod Safe Church Unit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 8267 4300.