It is everyone’s responsibility to provide an environment that is safe from sexual abuse for all our children.
The media coverage in February of The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings from Rome, has once again focussed the attention of many.
In Western Australia, the Synod’s Royal Commission Task Group continues to meet regularly, refining our current practices and policies, as well as identifying areas and actions for future improvement. Coupled with this is the need to ensure all aspects of the church’s life are compliant of the new requirements.
As an individual, what can you do?
Most importantly, be actively involved in ensuring the safety of everyone participating in our church community, particularly children. You may need to speak-up, if you see or hear anything which makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t seem quite right.
You can also attend a Safe Church Awareness Workshop to learn the steps and processes to keep your church safe. Anecdotal evidence shows that the more people in a congregation that attend training, the more likely it is that the congregation will be a safe place for all. Workshops will be held on Saturday 28 May, Kalamunda Uniting Church; Saturday 23 July, Willetton Uniting Church; and Saturday 15 October, St Peter Emmaus Community Church.
Discussions are underway to provide training in rural and remote congregations.
Everyone involved, or likely to be involved, in contact with children is required by Western Australian law to have a Working with Children Check (WCC), although some exemptions apply. Please ask questions about the WCC and the practices about who has them within your church community. You may also like to show personal support for those who have been sexually abused as children by tying ribbons to fences and letterboxes etc as part of the ‘Loud Fence’ campaign.
Cindy Gorton, Safe Church/Royal Commission officer, Robert Watson, WA Synod Task Group chairperson, Rev David de Kock, general secretary and Rev Steve Francis, moderator are here to walk beside you on this journey. Please contact them at the Uniting Church Centre on 9260 9800 if you have any questions or concerns.
For further information, please visit http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/safe-church/safe-church-training; https://workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au; and http://www.facebook.com/loudfence.