“As Archbishop, I am committed to ensuring that the Diocese, including its parishes and congregations, complies with these standards and I would like to assure you of the Diocese’s commitment to help and support you in that regard.”  – Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier

The Child Safe Standards

Victorian organisations that provide services to children are required under the Child Wellbeing and Child Safety Act 2005 to ensure that they comply with compulsory Child Safe Standards to protect children from harm. See the Summary on being a child safe organisation published by the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP).

In complying with the child safe standards, the following principles apply as part of each standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a

Implementing the Standards

The CCYP encourages organisations to undertake a thorough self-assessment to inform the production of an action plan to address any gaps in compliance with the standards.

They encourage use of an Implementation and Action Plan Tool to conduct the self-assessment.

The Diocese is a complex organisation comprising over 200 parishes, congregations and other faith communities.  Embedding a culture of child safety requires action at every level of the diocese from the Office of the Archbishop to the smallest parish or congregation and a commitment from their leaders, clergy and lay.   Each community is encouraged to engage in this process of self-assessment.

The materials below are intended to offer some assistance.  The questions posed below are not exhaustive.  See in that regard the Implementation and Action Plan Tool.

The individual standards

No. 1 Create strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, through effective leadership arrangements.

Can your parish:

  • help leaders create an organisational culture that protects children from abuse?
  • ensure the parish’s policies and practices reflect a commitment to child safety?
  • ensure leadership is aware of their duties to report cases of abuse and respond in ways that protect children from abuse?
  • ensure staff and volunteers know and understand the Church’s commitment to child safety?
  • commit to continuous improvement through regular reviews and updating policies and practices, and being open to scrutiny?
No. 2  Create a Child Safe Policy or Statement of Commitment to Child Safety that is relevant to your organisation.

The Archbishop in Council of the Diocese (the governing body) has approved a Child Safe Policy for the diocese. Parishes are asked to adopt the policy with amendments to include details of the Parish Child Safe Officer and any other relevant local information.

  • Has your parish adopted the Child Safe Policy?
  • Has it been drawn to the attention of parishioners?
  • Is Child Safety a standing agenda item at parish council meetings?
No. 3  Organisations must have a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.

The Archbishop in Council of the Diocese has approved a Code of Conduct for Child Safety for the diocese. 

The Code sets out in more detail the standards of behaviour which the Anglican Church in the Diocese expects from all people associated with or representing it to ensure child safety. It is the responsibility of each Church worker to be aware of and meet these standards and, unless there are cogent reasons for not doing so, to follow the guidelines. 

Parishes are asked to support and promote compliance with the code.  Links to individual parts of the code can be found here.

Clergy and lay leaders and those engaged in child related work are asked to sign the Statement of Commitment to the Code and forward it to the Parish Child Safe Officer.

  • As leader of the parish, are you familiar with the provisions of the Code?
  • Have you signed the Statement of Commitment to it as an example to others?
No. 4 Organisations must have screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel.

Screening

The Diocese has adopted specific screening practices.  Refer to the Clearances section of the Professional Standards page of this website.

Supervision

The immediate supervision of associate clergy in a parish rests with the vicar.  In consultation with the vicar, the Archbishop may appoint or remove from office a deacon priest or lay minister. 

  • As vicar, have you satisfied yourself that all clergy assisting you in the parish have the authority of the Archbishop granted by licence or permission to officiate?

The immediate supervision of lay people holding a role office or position in a parish rests generally with the vicar or their authorised agent:  Parish Governance Act 2015, ss 28, 29. 

  • As vicar, have you satisfied yourself of the fitness of those lay people holding office in the parish?
  • Have you delegated supervision of them to any person?
  • How is that monitored?
  • Are you familiar with the clearance for service provisions in the Act?

Training

Refer to the Training section of the Professional Standards page of this website.

No. 5 Organisations must have processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.

Refer to the Complaints section of the Professional Standards page of this website.

  • Does the parish display signs advertising Kooyoora Professional Standards?
  • Does the weekly parish publication advertise the Kooyoora complaint process?
No. 6 Organisations must have strategies to identify and reduce or remove the risk of child abuse.

You are referred to the Code of Conduct for Child Safety which identifies particular strategies:

No. 7  Organisations must have strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

Organisations need to ensure that children feel safe and comfortable in reporting concerns or allegations of abuse.  CCYP Tip sheet

  • Does your parish have in place processes that help children understand what to do if they want to report abuse, inappropriate behaviour or concerns for their safety?
  • Have you sought the views of children in the parish about what makes them feel safe and unsafe?
  • Are the Kooyoora Professional Standards signs on display in the parish?
  • Have you placed suitable signs in the parish toilets?
  • Is there a protocol in place if children wish to raise a matter of concern?
  • Do the parish leaders understand and respect that protocol?

Reportable conduct

It is the duty of the Head of a religious organisation to report conduct to the Commission for Children and Young People

Under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, the relevant religious body for the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Melbourne including its parishes is the Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Corporation Ltd (the Diocesan Corporation) which legally appoints all office holders.

The Head of the Entity constituted by the Diocesan Corporation is the Archbishop of Melbourne.

The Head of the Entity has a duty under the Act to notify the Commission for Children and Young People of reportable allegations and take further specified action. The Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards has undertaken to notify on behalf of the Archbishop the Commission and take further action as may be required under the Act.

There are 5 types of ‘reportable conduct’:

  • sexual offences committed against, with or in the presence of a child
  • sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child
  • physical violence against, with or in the presence of a child
  • any behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child
  • significant neglect of a child

Under these arrangements, there is one notifying body on behalf of the Diocese and its parishes, congregations and faith communities – the Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards on behalf of the head of entity – the Archbishop.

It is essential to the effective operation of these arrangements that those exercising leadership positions in parishes and like bodies strictly observe the requirements for mandatory reporting to the Director of Professional Standards at dps@kooyoora.org.au. Failure to do so will put at risk due compliance with the requirements of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act by the Diocese. 

Further resources

Diocesan resources (Kooyoora website)

Public Resources (Kooyoora website)

CCYP Resources and support

Child Wise – Publications

Child Wise – Posters and Fact sheets

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