Keeping children and vulnerable people safe within the Church was not just the responsibility of the Culture and Safety Unit, but every member, the Synod has been told.
The Synod’s Ethical Standards Officer Rev Sue Clarkson said the unit could produce a lot of reports but success only came when congregations were active participants.
“Our Church being a safe place only happens when we all work together,” she said.
Child Safety Officer Josh Woollett said the unit had heard many stories from people who had been abused either at either a church or a church event. He said the unit was committed to ensuring no one else suffered.
“We know the implementation of these practices is not easy, but if they had been put in place 40 years ago we would have changed the lives of many people.”
Ms Clarkson said a safe place for children was a safe place for everyone.
In its report the unit said in order to be compliant with the new Victorian Child Safe Standards (CSS) in Victoria, which came into effect on January 1 this year, all Culture of Safety resources – including Safe Church Training – had been reviewed and adapted, with many new resources developed.
To meet the requirement that all leaders across the Synod be appropriately trained regarding child safe practices and procedures, 2017-18 Code of Ethics cycle has been amended to incorporate Safe Church Training for all ministry agents.
All appointed leaders with the Church are required to hold a positive Working with Children Check/Registration and currently there are about 9000 registered with the Synod.
Members were told the work of the Child Standards Officers in each Presbytery, which was an initiative of the Royal Commission Task Group had been invaluable as a local, ready resource to assist congregations.