The LCANZ’s new congregational child safety standards will go through a consultation process in April and May.
The LCA Child Safety Standards for Congregations are designed to ensure that the church can meet its regulatory responsibilities in response to an increasingly rigorous child safety landscape in Australia and New Zealand. This is especially so in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations.
The standards have been developed by the LCANZ’s Child Protection Project Team over the past 12 months, considered by the General Church Board during 2020 and approved for consultation before COVID.
Tailored to the faith-based and congregational context, the standards are a more user-friendly version of the National Principles endorsed by COAG (Council of Australian Governments) in 2019. They incorporate a self-assessment tool, a template for the preparation of congregational child safety plans, an implementation guide and a governance and reporting framework.
The standards will also be trialled in some congregations before they are finalised and implemented. It is intended that they will be mandatory for all congregations and that all congregations will be required to report on their child safety progress to their local and District Councils on an annual basis. This, in turn, will allow the church to report on its overall district and churchwide child safety status.
Child Protection Project Officer Mary-Ann Carver said the LCANZ ‘had long been committed to the protection of children and the vulnerable’.
‘Much has been written and reported about the need for supportive and protective environments where abuse prevention is a priority, response systems are robust, and victims are treated with great respect and care’, she said. ‘This is the type of environment we want in our church – an environment where everyone feels safe and loved, where people, including children, feel comfortable to speak up and where the most vulnerable always feel welcome and protected.
‘To this end, the LCA has worked hard over many years to develop and progress its safe church commitments and programs.’
Notifications about the release of the standards consultation package will appear in LCANZ District eNews bulletins and the package will be available on the LCA website.