The National Safe Church Unit
– A Safe Church for all people
The Uniting Church in Australia believes that a safe Church is who we are called to be. A safe Church is the way we physically, emotionally and spiritually care for each other.
In the years since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Church has engaged in deep reflection on our theology and recognition of children and their safety, in the life of our Church. In response to the lessons learnt and the Commission’s recommendations we have taken action.
The National Safe Church Unit was created as part of the Uniting Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It is an expression of the whole of Church commitment to ensuring that all parts of the Uniting Church are places where all people can feel safe. This commitment spans ministry and mission contexts, including congregations, agencies, hospitals and schools.
The National Safe Church Unit is a collaboration of all of the Synods and the Assembly and is led by National Director Rev. John Cox.
The Unit develops evidence-based policy frameworks and resources for use across the life of the Church in collaboration with representative groups and individuals from the Church and, where appropriate, experts and ecumenical partners. The frameworks and tools complement the good practice and processes already in place and are designed to create consistency in these processes, enhance education and training and increase sharing of information to strengthen the checks and balances that the Church needs to ensure safety.
Many of the tools and resources have been designed to enable local branding so that they can be added into existing training toolkits and resources.
The National Safe Church Unit can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Child Safe Policy Framework
The National Child Safe Policy Framework has been designed to support and guide all entities and individuals associated with the Uniting Church in Australia who engage in child related services or activities actively grow the culture of safety across the church.
Each Synod is required to develop their own suites of policies, practices and auditing programs and training modules regarding vulnerable people in line with this framework.
Some agencies and schools also have mandated or legislated provisions under their accreditation and registration requirements.
National Child Safe Collaborative Framework
The Collaborative Framework provides a platform to bring together the work and actions of staff and volunteers to drive the required transformation to build and sustain safe culture and practices.
The framework outlines the consultation process which the National Safe Church Unit uses in its engagement with Synods and agencies across the Church to ensure that project proposals are developed collaboratively.
The framework also includes a decision-making protocol tool which is used to ensure that the appropriate approvals are secures before the National Safe Church Unit begins project delivery.
National Person of Concern Policy Framework
The Uniting Church in Australia has the privilege and an absolute responsibility to provide worshipping communities that are free from abuse and harm where any person can express their faith and explore their relationship with God. All people who attend and participate in events, activities and programs of the Church have a right to do so in an environment where they are safe and feel safe.
A person of concern is any person who has engaged in criminal sexual behaviour and/or is reasonably suspected of engaging or seeking to engage in harmful sexual behaviour towards a child.
The framework provides guidance to Synods about dealing with a person of concern and it does not in any way replace or negate the need for Synods to fully comply with mandated or legislated provisions.