More than 80 per cent of Australian congregations have now submitted either a Child Safety Plan for their congregation or parish or an assurance that they have no children in regular attendance.
This demonstrates a remarkable increase in submissions to the Child Safety Standards team over the past three months.
It also indicates that congregations are embracing their child safety responsibilities in a positive way and that child safety is being prioritised at the congregational leadership level.
Of course, the next step is for congregations to make sure that their Child Safety Plans are implemented and regularly reviewed.
For our monthly standards update, we are highlighting two key standards.
Standard 1: ‘Our leadership, governance, and culture are child safe’
We know that keeping children safe is the responsibility of all members of the congregation, but this especially applies to the leadership team. It is the responsibility of the leadership team to drive a child safety culture by modelling child-safe behaviours, communicating child safety messages, reviewing child safety progress and, most importantly, prioritising the safety of children if concerns arise.
Here are a few simple steps that leadership teams can implement:
- Include child safety in leadership team meetings and AGM agendas.
- Make sure to review Child Safety Plan progress during leadership meetings.
- Ensure screening and Safe Church training compliance is also reviewed, particularly in relation to leaders.
- Display the LCA Statement of Commitment to Child Safety in physical and online spaces.
Standard 3: ‘We include families in our child safety decision-making’
Congregations are safer when we work in partnership with families to keep children safe. We do this by including parents, carers and children in decisions that affect them and keeping families informed about how we keep their children safe.
Our newsletters, websites and social media pages are how we keep our families informed. Using these platforms to share strong messages about child safety helps families to learn about our child safety initiatives and encourages them to communicate with us about safety ideas or concerns.
Here are a few simple steps relating to families that you could implement in your congregation:
- After the first session of ministries (Sunday school/confirmation) each year, invite parents to stay back to hear about a) what you are doing to keep their children safe and b) how they can provide feedback for any concerns they might have.
- Ensure that events where children and families are present include information about how safety is being maximised and who parents can speak to if they have concerns.
- Hold a parent forum to find out what parents want regarding their children’s safety and what they see as safe or unsafe. This might be held at the same time as similar forums for children and youth.
- After events are held, ask families to contribute to a review of the activity in either a formal or informal way (conversation/survey/feedback form).
You will find more suggestions and resources for Standards 1 and 3, including a short video, in our Resources section on the LCA Child Safety page.
If you haven’t completed your Child Safety Plan
For those congregations who are either still working on their Child Safety Plans or are yet to commence the process, please note you are still required to complete your Child Safety Plan and send it through to us.
Child Safety Plans can be submitted via the online portal at www.lca.org.au/css
If you are having difficulties or have queries, remember we are very happy to assist you. Please just contact your District Professional Standards Officer or the Child Safety Standards team at the Churchwide Office. All contact details can be found below.
No children in your congregation?
If you have no children attending or participating regularly at your congregation, you may be eligible to complete a ‘Congregation without Children – Child Safety Assurance’. Please give us a ring to see if this might be an option for your congregation.
There is a range of resources available on the LCA Child Safety Resources page.
We are here to help – please don’t hesitate to contact your District Professional Standards Officer (details here) or the Churchwide Child Safety Team (email@example.com), Nicole Hall (08 8267 7372 or 0491 011 643) or Mary-Ann Carver 0490 281 727.
READ MORE STORIES ABOUT Child Safety Standards