Rev Jonathan Bradford, Ministry Standards Team Leader
Despite the challenges we faced throughout 2021 the Ministry Standards Team has continued to work hard to support our churches in promoting a Safe Church culture to protect all people from harm, and to respond to incidents of harm from the past. Whilst we want to satisfy increasing legal responsibilities and government regulation, our primary motivation for safe church implementation comes from our commitment to mission and evangelism and the Association’s Gen1K goal of a thousand healthy churches in a generation.
We have continued to support churches who have received claims via the National Redress Scheme and via civil litigation. Since joining the National Redress Scheme in March 2019 we have received notice of 29 historic claims against us, with around half of these claims now finalised. These matters are often complex and challenging, requiring much wisdom, compassion, and prayer.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended to government several legislative reforms. In response to these recommendations in recent years we have seen changes in both NSW and the ACT in the area of civil litigation, expansion of Mandatory Reporting provisions, and the inclusion of churches in the Reportable Conduct Scheme. The NSW parliament recently introduced a new Child Safe Scheme which now makes compliance with the Child Safe Standards mandatory for churches, and we expect similar changes soon in the ACT. Our Safe Church Package of model documents assists local churches adopt safe church policy and procedure documents to comply with their obligations. Our Safe Church Health Check allows local churches to demonstrate their compliance with the Child Safe Standards. Despite the challenges of these increased expectations on churches we have received much positive feedback about the resources we offer. We are very encouraged that over 30 churches have now fully satisfied the requirements of the Safe Church Health Check with many other churches moving closer to completion. In light of the new Child Safe Scheme, we encourage all churches to engage with our Safe Church Package and lodge a Safe Church Health Check soon.
During 2021 the Association established a Safe Ministry Team to promote safe ministry internally within the direct ministry areas of the Association. This team has developed new workflow processes, undertaken screening of staff and volunteers, and introduced new accountability and reporting processes.
Our Creating Safe Spaces training program continued to be impacted by the restrictions associated with COVID 19 however we were grateful we were able to deliver 105 training workshops with 3600 participants across 2021. We are grateful for our team of presenters who presented workshops in person and via zoom. Our training resources are utilised by Fresh Hope (Churches of Christ NSW), as well as many independent churches. In addition, our partnership with the Baptist Union of Victoria saw 900 participants from Victorian churches. We continue to refresh the CSS training resources and in early 2022 released updated graphics, a new participant workbook as well as full translation into Mandarin and Korean language. More information and bookings are available here: www.creatingsafespaces.org.au
Supported churches to
- respond to National Redress Scheme claims, civil litigation claims, pastoral complaints, persons of concern and Reportable Conduct matters.
- Implement Safe Church policies, with 30 churches now fully satisfying the Safe Church Health Check
- develop Safe Church culture, with 3600 participants at 105 Creating Safe Spaces workshops as well as 900 participants via BUV