The LCA’s new Child Safety Standards for Congregations have been approved by the General Church Board (GCB).
These standards were developed to implement the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations across all LCA congregations in Australia. Endorsed by members of COAG (the Council of Australian Governments), the national principles reflect 10 child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The approval of the LCA standards is ‘an important development for the church and an example of its long-standing child safety leadership and commitment’, says Child Protection Project Officer Mary-Ann Carver.
‘The LCA’s Child Safety Standards reflect the national principles in their content and aspiration but are tailored to the faith-based, congregational context’, Mary-Ann says. ‘The intent of the standards is to provide congregations with clear guidance regarding child safety expectations and to help congregational leaders maintain effective oversight of congregational safety and wellbeing.
‘The standards are also a reflection of God’s abounding love for children and his expectation that we will dearly and lovingly do our very best to keep them safe as they grow their faith.’
Implementation of the standards will assist the LCA to meet its mandatory child safety responsibilities. This is particularly important given that robust regulatory systems are already in place in New South Wales and Victoria, with similar systems likely to be introduced across remaining states and territories.
The standards have been trialled with several congregations and resulting feedback has helped make the documents as user-friendly as possible. The standards come with two implementation tools – a simple self-assessment tool by which congregations can measure their child safety status and a child safety planning template for congregational leaders to document and monitor priorities and initiatives. It is expected that from 2022 all congregations will undertake child safety self-assessments and prepare child safety plans annually and they will be supported through this process by the LCA.
The General Church Board has also approved the LCA’s Statement of Commitment to Child Safety. This statement represents a public demonstration of the LCA’s commitment to keeping children safe. In part, it says: ‘The LCA is committed to providing a safe church environment for children and young people. The LCA also affirms that it has no tolerance for child abuse … The way we care for children is a reflection of our genuineness of faith. It is also a reflection of God’s love and his divine protection.’
For more information about the safety standards, go to www.lca.org.au/css