You may have heard about the draft LCA Child Safety Standards for Congregations (CSS) in recent months. These draft standards have been developed as a mechanism for implementing the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations within our congregations. The proposed LCA standards are heavily reflective of the National Principles in content and requirements but are tailored to the congregational context and have been written in straightforward and user-friendly language. They incorporate a simple self-assessment requirement and a child safety planning process for church councils to oversee and implement.
It is important that our church embraces the proposed standards within our congregations, given that the child safety regulatory landscape in Australia is changing. Most jurisdictions have either already implemented a new regulatory framework for child safety compliance or have indicated their intention to do so in the near future. This is new ground for churches and presents new challenges for our congregations with child safety proactivity, compliance and reporting.
Implementing the proposed standards within our congregations has the potential to yield great benefits – not only in terms of the safety and wellbeing of our children and young people but also concerning growing our congregations, connecting with our children and their families and helping us to further strengthen our already well-established child safety commitments.
The draft LCA CSS was released for targeted consultation across LCA districts in May 2021. Consultation sessions with various congregations have been held and completed in Queensland and Victoria, with further consultations scheduled to take place in New South Wales, the ACT and Western Australia in the coming weeks. Thus far, the consultations have been well attended and very informative. They have produced some robust discussions and generated a wealth of constructive suggestions for improvement. A big thank you to all who have contributed to the consultations to date.
In South Australia, the proposed LCA CSS are currently being trialled in a small number of congregations. This has involved the application of the proposed self-assessment process. It will soon progress to the development of congregational child safety plans. It is anticipated that the trial will help us to gain a realistic picture of the implementation process in terms of practicalities, constraints, timeframes and workload. Participants in the trial have also been able to identify areas for improvement and have already provided us with many helpful suggestions for change. A big thank you also to those participating in the trial.
We plan to complete the consultations and trial by the end of August and collate and analyse all the data by mid-October. A finalised version of the standards incorporating learnings from the consultations and the trial will then be prepared and submitted to the General Church Board (GCB) for consideration and approval in October.
Pending GCB approval, implementation of the standards is expected to commence in early 2022.
If you have any queries about the consultation or the proposed standards, please contact either the Professional Standards Officer in your district or myself. We are very happy to answer any queries you might have. My contact details are provided below.
197 Archer St, North Adelaide SA
08 8267 7300
0490 281 727
Mary-Ann Carver is the LCA Child Protection Project Officer.