Building a Child Safe Organisation
All children who come to our parishes have a right to be safe
At Deepdene & Balwyn and Camberwell Parishes we hold the care, safety and well being of children and young people as a central and fundamental responsibility of our parishes. Our parishes have zero tolerance of child abuse and all children are entitled to, as a fundamental right, safety and protection from all forms of abuse and neglect. We all have an obligation to do the best we can to keep children safe from harm and abuse. We are committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early and then reducing or removing them. This commitment is drawn from and inherent to the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the sanctity of each human person at the heart of the Gospel.
In April 2012, the Victorian Government initiated a landmark inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations. The inquiry’s final report, Betrayal of Trust provided a range of recommendations. The Victorian Government’s response included the introduction of compulsory minimum Victorian Child Safe Standards. The aim of these standards is to help protect children from all forms of abuse by driving cultural change in organisations in order to strengthen their approaches to preventing and responding to abuse. The standards apply from January 2017 for organisations who provide services for children.
Victorian Child Safe Standards
To create and maintain a child safe organisation, an entity to which the standards apply must have:
Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.
Commitment to ensuring that all those engaged in the Church promote the inherent dignity of children and young people and their fundamental right to be respected and nurtured in a safe environment.
Zero tolerance of child abuse and all allegations as well as safety concerns.
Commitment to cultural safety for Aboriginal children and those from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to provide a safe environment for children with a disability.
Implementation across the parishes
Training and Formation
An initial induction program for existing clergy, parish staff and parishioners involved in parish ministries relating to the parishes’ commitment to a child safe environment. All existing clergy, parish staff and parishioners will be required to attend this program and sign the Parishes’ Child Safe Code of Conduct.
An ongoing induction program and training for new clergy, parish staff and parishioners.
Ongoing formation opportunities for existing clergy, parish staff and parishioners, including mandatory reporting and incident reporting.
Child Safety Officers have been nominated with role description.
Compliance and screening practices, including current and valid Working with Children Check and National Police Check.
Prevention strategies to prevent child abuse and to identify risks, comprising of policy and procedure reviews, risk analysis and meeting audit requirements.
Processes for responding to and reporting an allegation of child abuse or a safety concern, and a resource to record disclosures.
All clergy, parish staff, contractors and parishioners involved in child-connected work require a valid and current Working with Children Check. Compulsory attendance at a Child Safety Induction Program for new clergy, parish staff and parishioners working in parish ministries is also required together with a signed Parishes’ Code of Conduct. The Parish Office is required to keep up to date records of the status of Working with Children Checks, attendance at the Induction Program and signed Code of Conduct documentation. Yearly attendance at formation opportunities on child safety is also required.