MINISTRY STANDARDS TEAM
Rev Jonathan Bradford, Ministry Standards Manager
Throughout 2020, the Ministry Standards Team has supported churches across our movement in responding to past harm, seeking to protect against future harm and encouraging one another to develop and prioritise Safe Church culture. Our movement is committed to developing and communicating Safe Church priorities not just as a response to increased legal responsibilities but, more importantly, because of our commitment to mission and evangelism.
We have worked to support and resource churches responding to claims received via the National Redress Scheme and via civil litigation, as well as assisting churches with responding to Persons of Concern and pastoral complaint matters. These are serious and challenging issues which require wisdom and sensitivity. Since joining the National Redress Scheme in 2019, we have received notice of 17 historic redress claims with a small number of claims now finalised. We are pleased to pass on feedback from some victims of abuse that their participation in the Scheme was very positive and led to significant healing for them.
The year began with a focus on supporting churches as they implemented our newly released Safe Church Package of model documents. Each affiliated church is required to adopt safe church policy and procedure documents to ensure they comply with their legal obligations including Mandatory Reporting and the Reportable Conduct Scheme. Despite the challenges of 2020, nearly fifty churches have now submitted a Safe Church Health Check application and demonstrated how they have implemented safe church practices and we encourage all churches to engage with these resources. Compliance with the Child Safe Standards will also soon be mandatory for all churches in NSW and the ACT. We have made a number of submissions to government consultations regarding draft legislation to ensure the needs of churches are considered. During 2020 we also adapted the model documents for implementation internally within the direct ministry areas of the Association.
In response to restrictions associated with COVID19 we transitioned our Creating Safe Spaces training to be offered via interactive Zoom workshops. We are grateful to our experienced and passionate presenters who adapted quickly and we were still able to deliver 75 training workshops across 2020, with over 2000 participants. We have continued our partnership with Fresh Hope (Churches of Christ NSW) and have commenced a new partnership with the Baptist Union of Victoria so that our Creating Safe Spaces training resources can now be used in Victorian churches.
In early 2021, we launched a revised edition of the Creating Safe Spaces training, incorporating additional video content and coverage of a broader range of Safe Church issues. We look forward to welcoming churches to these new workshops, in person or via Zoom; in English, Mandarin or Korean. More information and bookings are available here: www.creatingsafespaces.org.au