Why is a focus on Child Safety theologically important for the Uniting Church in Australia?
Concern for the safety and wellbeing of all, including children and young people, is part of our call to respect and value all people universally.
Jesus’ teaching crystalised a biblical theme of care for those of us humans who are in particular need—a call to feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, bring sight to the blind, to care for the widow and the orphan. (e.g. Is. 61:1, Luke 4:18, Matt 25: 31-45, James 1:27)
This emphasis on care for the vulnerable leads us to take note of times when our systems and processes are vulnerable to enabling abuse or mistreatment of members of our community, especially those who may have less power or ability to protect themselves.
Jesus blessed children and held them up as exemplars to which others should look, calling his disciples to receive the Kingdom of God “as a little child”. He praised children as examples of humility and those who become like children as “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
In Jesus’ teaching that welcoming a child is welcoming Christ, we powerfully see the responsibility to care for children and that mistreatment of a child is unacceptable (Matt 18: 5–7)
This strengthens our commitment to be a Safe Church for all people.
Tools for Listening is a practical guide to engaging children and young people in your community on decisions that affect them.
It has been developed by the Uniting Church in Australia to enable the implementation of:
- Principle 2 from the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations: “Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously”.
- Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:
- That children and young people are involved in the strategic development, design, implementation and evaluation of initiatives
- That children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
- That families and communities are informed and involved
Tools for Listening will assist you in the process of consulting, involving and collaborating with children, young people and adults on programs and activities in any Uniting Church entity.
You can use Tools for Listening when planning or reviewing your programs and activities to:
- Consult with community members, families and children when planning a new program or activity
- Include and consider feedback when reviewing a program or activity
- Inform people new to your program or activity about codes of conduct and the feedback process.
Child Safe Policy Framework
Person of Concern
Nationally consistent guidance and information tools for Ministry Agents.
Tools are currently being created in consultation with stakeholders across the Church, they will be flexible to support congregations and presbyteries in using them, and will be available below as they are developed.
- Best practice for retired Ministry Agents in congregations
- Code of Ethics
- Conflicts of interest
- Dealing with a breach of the code of conduct by a colleague
- Dealing with differences – representing opposing views
- Gifts and fees
- Particular relationships
- Pastoral relationships
- Privacy, including laws governing electronic communications
- Record keeping
- Recording and note taking
- Relationships with the Councils of the Church
- Understanding and use of a minister’s powers
- Use of social media