Kemps Creek Christadelphian Ecclesia In.
- Children are a heritage from the Lord and should be cherished and nurtured by families and the ecclesia. The ecclesial environment should be a place of safety and spiritual development. In all matters relating to children, including addressing allegations of abuse, it is recognised that their welfare is of paramount importance. Relevant Bible teachings that provide a basis for the ecclesia’s child protection policy and procedures appear in Appendix A.
1.2 Child abuse can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and risk of harm. Relevant definitions appear in Appendix B. Possible indicators of child abuse appear in Appendix C.
1.3 This policy is designedto assist ecclesial members by providing practical procedures that satisfy Scriptural and legal requirements. Legal requirements relating to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and particularly the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 and theChild Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 appear in Appendix D.
1.4 Through the implementation of this policy the ecclesia aims to:
- protect children and young people against harm;
- provide guidance for ecclesial members and others authorised by the ecclesia when engaged in any activity either at or away from the ecclesia’s premises where children and young people are involved;
- provide guidance for victims of abuse and their families;
- provide guidance for alleged perpetrators of abuse;
- outline the responsibilities of the arranging brothers and ecclesial members when dealing with such issues; and,
- abide by the law.
The Kemps Creek Christadelphian Ecclesia Inc. has adopted the following principles, which will underpin its child protection policy and procedures:
2.1 Child abuse violates the teachings of Scripture.
2.2 The ecclesia does not support or condone criminal behaviour. We recognize that child abuse is criminal behaviour and is harmful to children’s physical, social, emotional and spiritual development and well-being.
2.3 The ecclesia has a duty of care for the safety, welfare and well‑being of children and should organise its affairs and activities to protect children against physical, emotional or sexual abuse and improper or inappropriate behaviour.
2.4 The ecclesia will, as far as it is in its power and expertise, assist and support ecclesial members who are victims of abuse.
2.5 Perpetrators require professional and spiritual assistance and need to recognise their behaviour is abhorrent and unacceptable to the Lord and even to the world. They must be willing to face the consequences of their behaviour.
2.6 In dealing with an allegation or suspicion of child abuse, the ecclesia will respond with sensitivity, objectivity, confidentiality, fairness and truthfulness.
3.1 Responsibilities of Arranging Brothers
3.1.1 The arranging brothers are responsible for ensuring to the best of their ability that persons involved with the care and supervision of children and young people satisfy the following requirements:
a. meet relevant State requirements relating to employment screening;
b. are aware of and agree with this policy statement including responsibilities of notification upon disclosure or discovery of harm, and procedures that ensure fair and just handling of complaints and allegations; and,
c. assess the potential risk to children engaged in activities for which they are responsible.
3.1.2 The arranging brothers will:
a. ensure a record of members holding current declarations of suitability for employment is kept in accordance with relevant legislation;
b. review nominations for Sunday School superintendent and secretary, Sunday School teachers, including relief teachers, supervisors and youth leaders and supervisors of outings.
c. approve guidelines for child safety developed by persons conducting activities;
d. provide ecclesial members involved in the care and supervision of children and young people with opportunities for regular training in the ecclesia’s child protection policy;
- ensure appropriate oversight of persons responsible for activities involving children and young people to minimise the risk of harm; and,
- conduct regular reviews of this policy to ensure it meets current legislative requirements and the developing needs of the ecclesia.
3.2 Persons Conducting Activities
3.2.1 Persons employed by the ecclesia to conduct youth activities are responsible to the arranging brothers and their appointees for the implementation of ecclesial policy relating to child protection. This will include the development and implementation of guidelines for child safety during activities for which they are responsible. Guidelines must be approved by the arranging brothers prior to the conduct of activities.
Recognising indicators of child abuse and neglect is a process of forming a reasonable concern or well‑founded suspicion that abuse or neglect has occurred or may occur in the future. (See Appendix C)
3.3.1 Any person who has reasonable grounds to suspect a child is at risk of harm or has been or is being abused should report the matter to the appropriate State authority. If the alleged abuse is occurring or has occurred during an ecclesial activity the matter should also be referred to an arranging brother who has no conflict of interest. It is their responsibility to ensure that relevant requirements of this policy are met.
3.3.2 In the case of a child disclosing that he or she claims to be the victim of abuse, the appropriate authorities must be contacted as the allegation may be evidence of a criminal offence, that a child’s welfare is possibly under threat, and that other children may also be at risk.
3.3.3 An ecclesial member who has an allegation of abuse made against them by a person not a member of the ecclesia must inform the arranging brothers of that allegation.
3.3.4 The ecclesia will offer appropriate support to an adult who alleges they were abused when a child. This could include assisting them to find appropriate professional counselling and reporting their allegation to appropriate authorities.
4 Managing Allegations of Abuse
4.1 Reports of harm brought to the arranging brothers by a child or young person or another person disclosing an alleged incident of abuse to a child or young person will be treated with respect. The arranging brothers will not hold a hearing nor conduct their own “court case” into a report. This must be left to those with the statutory responsibility for such matters. State authorities have personnel with specialised expertise in probing the validity of allegations and the minimising of the possible detrimental effect detailed questioning may have on alleged victims of abuse.
4.2 Reports must be documented and filed in a secure place. The ecclesia recognises that reporting of allegations of child abuse is a lawful requirement for brothers and sisters in mandated employment such as school teaching.
4.3 If a person making an allegation of abuse declines to report the matter to the appropriate authorities then the arranging brothers should, as a general rule, do so. If the arranging brothers decide not to report the allegation because the information available does not provide reasonable grounds for suspicion that abuse may have occurred, the decision and the reasons for that decision must be documented. A decision by the arranging brothers not to report an allegation of abuse does not preclude any other person from reporting the allegation to the appropriate authorities.
4.4 It is essential that allegations of abuse reported to the arranging brothers be kept strictly confidential except when reporting to the appropriate authorities. Records should be kept of such reports and include the time and date when the report was made, the name and position of the authority to whom the report was made and a written statement of what was reported.
4.5 The documentation indicated in 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 above should be stored securely as it may be required in a future investigation conducted by State authorities.
4.6 If the arranging brothers become aware of an allegation of abuse or they form a reasonable suspicion of abuse being perpetrated by a member or young person, that member or young person shall be suspended from all ecclesial activities at the discretion of the arranging brothers. The member or young person will be expected to cooperate with the arranging brothers to find the most suitable way forward in regards to any future participation in ecclesial activities. In considering what activities the member or young person may attend, the arranging brothers must consider the welfare of children as pre-eminent.
4.7 Arranging brothers must not be involved in any matter related to an allegation of child abuse where there may be a real or perceived conflict of interest.
4.8 Under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998,members of the ecclesia must cooperate with a departmental or police officer in the exercise of any power under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998.
4.9 The ecclesia must comply with Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 and theChild Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000, which allows departmental or police officers to have contact with a child under ecclesial care before the child’s parents are aware of the investigation. This contact may be for as long as the officer reasonably considers is necessary.
4.9.1 In this event the departmental or police officer should notify either the arranging brothers or other relevant persons in charge of an activity about the intended contact. It is reasonable to expect departmental or police officers to inform those responsible for the activity that they are investigating an allegation of harm, or risk of harm, to a child; and that they reasonably believe that:
a. it is in the child’s best interests that the officer has contact with the child before the child’s parents are told about the investigation; and,
b. the child’s parents, knowing about the proposed contact in advance, are likely to adversely affect or otherwise prevent the proper and effective conduct of the investigation.
5 Informing other Ecclesias of Allegations of Child Abuse
5.1 If the arranging brothers are aware that an alleged or convicted child abuser is involved in organising or attending youth activities at another ecclesia or has regular contact with children in other ecclesias, the recorders of those ecclesias must be notified of the allegations. The arranging brothers will, at their discretion, inform additional ecclesias of an allegation of abuse made against a member. If the arranging brothers decide not to provide such information in writing then a record should be kept and securely stored of the date, time, person to whom the information was passed and a transcript of the information.
5.2 If the person against whom an allegation has been made seeks transfer to another ecclesia, the recorder of that ecclesia will be informed in writing of the allegation. If the arranging brothers decide not to provide such information in writing then a record should be kept and securely stored of the date, time, person to whom the information was passed and a transcript of the information.
6 Support for Victims and Alleged Abusers
6.1 The ecclesia will assist children and young people who are victims of abuse to access appropriate pastoral care.
6.2 The alleged abuser will be assisted to access appropriate pastoral care. The ecclesia believes professional counselling is essential if a child abuser is to be rehabilitated.
7 Unproven and Disproved Allegations
7.1 If an allegation of abuse is disproved, the arranging brothers will endeavour to ensure that the reputation of the person affected is reinstated. In some cases, and at the discretion of the arranging brothers, a person against whom an unproven allegation has been made may not be given responsibilities for children in activities organised by the ecclesia.
7.2 The arranging brothers may consider taking action against a person where their allegation proves to have been vexatious, malicious, frivolous or mischievous.
Except where expressly allowed under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 and theChild Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 or other relevant legislation all matters regarding allegations of harm to a child are confidential. The ecclesia expressly recognises that:
8.1 the identity of the person who notifies the Authorities about suspected harm, or risk of harm to a child must not be disclosed;
8.2 the identity of children who are the subject of an investigation into suspected harm or any order under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998.must not be disclosed unless written approval is granted under the Act;
8.3 as a general rule, information or documents given by people involved in performing duties under Child Protection Legislation are confidential and must not be disclosed; and,
8.4 disclosure will be permitted if it is for purposes directly related to a child’s protection or welfare or if it is otherwise required or permitted by law.
9 Compliance with Court Orders
9.1 All members of the ecclesia must comply with any orders made by a court under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 and theChild Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000.
10 Applications For Ecclesial Membership from an Alleged, Known or Convicted Child Abuser
10.1 An application for ecclesial membership by a known or convicted child abuser must be treated in the manner set out in the Unity Basis fellowship clauses if that person has been disfellowshipped by another ecclesia.
10.2 Whether the person has been disfellowshipped or not, the arranging brothers, in considering an application for membership, must take into account the spiritual welfare of any victims of child abuse who are ecclesial members. This must occur whether or not such ecclesial members are victims of the person seeking membership. Concern for the spiritual welfare of victims of child abuse is sufficient reason to refuse membership.
10.3 Applications should be in writing and acknowledge the wrong the known child abuser has done. Applications should clearly state what steps the person has taken to attempt to rehabilitate. Steps should include treatment by a recognised expert in the area of child abuse and then documentary evidence may be sought by the ecclesia that such treatment has been undertaken.
10.4 A known child abuser granted membership to the ecclesia could not expect to have any formal position in the ecclesia and could be excluded from any activity at the discretion of the arranging brothers. The statutory requirements that regulate the employment of people in child-related employment are applicable in this context.
11 Other situations
In any situation that falls outside the scope of 10.1 to 10.4 above, the arranging brothers will determine the action to be taken.
RELEVANT BIBLE TEACHINGS
The following Bible tenets underpin this ecclesia’s child protection policy and procedures.
The Bible teaches that children are God’s heritage. “…Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14; Psalm 127:3).
The Bible teaches that in all things we should “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This provides the over-arching goal and guide for planning, managing and deciding all matters within the ecclesia.
The Bible teaches that we should practise the commandments of Christ and the fruit of the spirit (John 14:15, 15:14, Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:17-20; Philippians 4:8).
The Bible teaches that we are to be holy and to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).
The Bible teaches that all forms of abuse, including child abuse, violate the commandments of Christ and are contrary to the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
The Bible teaches that we are to love God with all our heart, strength, soul and mind, and to love our neighbour as our selves. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8).
The Bible teaches that we should obey the laws of the land in which we live, except where they directly contravene the teachings of the Bible (Romans 13:1-5; Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29).
The Bible teaches that we have a particular duty of care for those within the Ecclesia who may be vulnerable or have special needs (Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 31:9; Acts 20:35; James 1:27).
The Bible provides a guide as to the process to be followed where major transgressions occur (Matthew 18:15-17). The principles of this process should be applied in action taken by individuals and the ecclesia in responding to any such transgressions.
The Bible teaches that the ecclesia should seek to recover those who are “overtaken in a fault” and err from the truth (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
The Bible teaches that those who have oversight of the Ecclesia have a responsibility to tend the Ecclesia and protect it from “wolves” (Acts 20:28-32).
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Adult – an individual at or over the age of 18 years.
Appropriate Authorities – State police, or relevant State child agencies authorised under child protection legislation.
Arranging Brothers – a group appointed by the ecclesia to have the oversight and management of its affairs.
Child and young person – an individual under the age of 18 years.
Ecclesial Activity – an activity that is officially organised and/or advertised by the ecclesia for members, family, friends and invited guests, held in the ecclesial hall or at other specified locations. The activity may not necessarily be conducted by ecclesial members and could include a person contracted by the ecclesia for a specific purpose.
Ecclesial Member– any person appearing on the ecclesial roll.
Emotional Abuse – behaviour by a parent, caregiver or other person that can destroy the confidence of a child resulting in significant emotional deprivation and trauma. It encompasses a range of behaviours that harm a child and involves impairment of a child’s spiritual, social, emotional, cognitive and intellectual development, and negative disturbance of a child’s behaviour.
Employee (employed) – Any volunteer or paid person or persons appointed or contracted by the ecclesia to perform a function. They may or may not be baptised members of a Christadelphian Ecclesia.
Harm – any detrimental effect of a significant nature to a child’s physical, psychological or emotional well-being.
Mandated Employment – Employment where people working in nominated areas are required by law to report allegations and suspicions of child abuse to the appropriate State authorities. Mandated employment may vary from State to State.
Neglect – where a child is harmed by failure to provide the basic physical and emotional necessities of life such as adequate and proper food, clothing, medical aid, lodging and care.
Parent and caregiver – the child’s mother, father or someone else having or exercising parental responsibility for the child. A parent of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child includes a person who under Aboriginal or Islander custom, respectively, is regarded as a parent of the child.
Physical Abuse – non-accidental injury to a child by a parent, caregiver or other person. It includes injuries caused by excessive discipline, severe beatings or shakings, bruising, lacerations, welts, burns, fractures and dislocation. Physical abuse may result in permanent physical and/or psychological damage or death.
Reasonable suspicion – there is evidence to indicate there is a risk of harm to a child based upon indicators such as those outlined in Appendix C.
Risk of harm – concern about the safety, welfare and well-being of a child for any of the following reasons:
- The child’s basic physical or psychological needs are not being met or are at risk of not being met;
- The parents/caregivers have not arranged necessary medical care;
- The child is at risk of being physically or sexually abused or ill-treated; and,
- The child is living in a household where there have been incidents of domestic violence and, as a consequence, the child is at risk of serious physical or psychological harm.
Sexual Abuse – any sexual act or sexual threat imposed on a child including intercourse, assault, penetration, acts of indecency such as touch (including use of objects), exposure, harassment, and suggestive behaviour, in any form, and exposure of children to pornographic material. Coercion, which may be physical or psychological, is intrinsic to sexual abuse and differentiates such abuse from consensual peer sexual activity.
Statutory Responsibility – People or organisations that, under law, have duties and special rights in the area of child protection.
Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leaders & Youth Workers – adults who have volunteered or been appointed to teach, lead or work with young people.
Training – provision for those engaged with children in activities organised or conducted under the auspices of the ecclesia to understand their responsibilities under the terms of the ecclesial policy on child protection.
Unity Basis – the basis upon which ecclesias in the Central Fellowship in Australia agree to relate to each other and conduct some of their affairs.
Youth Groups – include groups such as the Christadelphian Youth Circle (CYC), Christadelphian Junior Youth Circle (CJYC), the Sunday School, and the Play Group.
RECOGNISING CHILD ABUSE
Ecclesial members whose work brings them into contact with children and their families should be aware of the indicators of abuse and neglect. Recognising indicators of child abuse is about forming a responsible concern or well-founded suspicion that there is a risk of harm from neglect or abuse, which is current or likely to occur in the future.
Adults or adolescents who perpetrate child sexual abuse exploit the dependency and immaturity of children.
Offenders use a range of tactics including force, threats, and tricks to engage children in sexual contact and to try to silence them. They may also try to gain the trust and friendship of parents in order to obtain access to children. They may be family members or close family friends
Possible indicators of sexual abuse.
These may be present either individually or in combination in children and include:
- direct or indirect disclosures,
- describing sexual acts,
- age inappropriate behaviour and or persistent sexual behaviour,
- self destructive behaviour, drug dependency, suicide attempts, self mutilation,
- overtly sexual themes in artwork, play or writing,
- persistent running away from home,
- anorexia, over eating,
- going to bed fully clothed,
- regression in developmental achievements,
- child being in contact with a known or suspected perpetrator of sexual assault,
- unexplained accumulation of money and gifts,
- bleeding from the vagina or external genitalia or anus,
- injuries such as tears or bruising to the genitalia or anus,
- sexually transmitted diseases,
- adolescent pregnancy,
- injuries to the breasts, buttocks, lower abdomen and thighs.
General indicators of child stress should also be considered such as:
a. poor concentration at school,
b. sleeping or bedtime problems e.g. nightmares or bedwetting,
c. marked changes in behaviour including tantrums, aggressiveness, withdrawal, complaints of stomachaches and headaches with no physical findings.
Indicators in parents, caregivers, siblings, relatives, acquaintances or strangers:
- exposing a child to pornography or using a child for pornographic purposes,
- intentionally exposing a child to the sexual behaviour of others,
- inappropriate nakedness of either a child or an adult in a child’s presence e.g. inappropriate exposure of genitals,
- having committed or being suspected of child sexual abuse,
- forbidding a child to engage in age appropriate activities,
- coercing a child to engage in sexual behaviour with other children,
- verbal threats of sexual abuse,
- denial of an adolescent’s pregnancy by the family,
- domestic violence or child physical abuse.
Principal Act is the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act1998
Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998
This Act establishes the Commission for Children and Young People as an independent organisation with the aim of making NSW a better place for children and young people. In relation to the Working With Children program, the Commission for Children and Young People’s functions include encouraging employers to develop their capacity to be safe and friendly for children, facilitating Working With Children background checking for child-related employment and reviewing the status of Prohibited persons.
Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974
Under this part the NSW Ombudsman is to keep under scrutiny the systems for:
• preventing reportable conduct by employees of designated NSW Government agencies, non-government agencies and other public authorities; and
• handling and responding to reportable allegations or convictions involving those employees.
Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000
Under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 a person who has been found guilty of a registrable offence against children, as defined by the Act, is known as a “Registrable person”. A number of strict reporting obligations and limits are placed on such persons. A Registrable person automatically becomes a Prohibited person under the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998.
Freedom of Information Act 1989
This Act gives people the legal right to:
• obtain access to information held as records by NSW Government agencies, Government
Ministers, local government and other public bodies;
• request amendments to personal records that are inaccurate; and
• appeal against a decision not to grant access to information or to amend personal records.
The Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 expands the coverage of the Freedom of
Information Act 1989 to any employer who has information on relevant employment proceedings.
Summary of Legal Requirements
The Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 makes it an offence for a prohibited person (a person convicted of a serious sex offence, the murder of a child or a child-related personal violence offence, as well as a Registrable person under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000) to apply for or otherwise attempt to obtain, undertake or remain in, child-related employment.
It does not apply if an order from the Industrial Relations Commission, Administrative Decisions Tribunal or Commission for Children and Young People, declares that the Act does not apply to a person in respect of a specific offence.
For further information on what is child-related employment see the Working With Children Employer Guidelines (For a summary of these guidelines refer to What is Child Related Employment at the end of Appendix D).
Section 33B of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 defines a serious sex
• an offence, involving sexual activity or acts of indecency, committed in New South Wales and that was punishable by penal servitude or imprisonment for 12 months or more; or
• an offence, involving sexual activity or acts of indecency, committed elsewhere and that would have been an offence punishable by penal servitude or imprisonment for 12 months or more, if it had been committed in New South Wales; or
• an offence under section 80D or 80E (sexual servitude) of the Crimes Act 1900, committed against a child; or
• an offence under Sections 91D-91G (child prostitution, other than if committed by a child prostitute) of the Crimes Act 1900 or a similar offence under a law other than a law of New South Wales; or
• an offence under Section 91H, 578B or 578C (2A) (child pornography) of the Crimes Act 1900 or a similar offence under a law other than a law of New South Wales; or
• an offence of attempting, or of conspiracy or incitement, to commit an offence referred to in the preceding paragraphs; or
• any other offence, whether under the law of New South Wales or elsewhere, prescribed by the regulations.
NOTE: A conviction for carnal knowledge is classified as a serious sex office under this legislation.
Section 33B of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 defines a child-related personal violence offence as an offence committed by an adult:
• involving intentionally wounding or causing grievous bodily harm to a child; or
• of attempting, or of conspiracy or incitement, to commit such an offence.
Under the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998:
• it is an offence for a prohibited person to apply for or otherwise attempt to obtain, undertake or remain in child related employment;
• employers must ask existing employees, both paid and unpaid, and preferred applicants for child-related employment to declare if they are a prohibited person or not;
• all people in child-related employment must inform their employers if they are a prohibited person or remove themselves from child-related employment; and
• penalties are imposed for non compliance.
What is Child Related Employment?
You employ people in child-related employment if you provide employment in NSW:
• in refuges used by children;
• in detention centres (within the meaning ofthe Children (Detention Centres) Act 1987);
• involving the provision of counselling or other support services for children;
- other support services for children covers youth services, family support services and other welfare services
- only staff delivering the counselling or other support service are in child-related employment
• involving the direct provision of child health services;
- child health services covers medical and dental services, ambulances and those therapies listed in “extras cover” by the major health insurance funds
- only the health staff, including allied health staff, directly delivering the service are in child-related employment
• in wards of public or private hospitals in which children are patients;
• in clubs, associations, movements, societies, institutions or other bodies (including bodies of a cultural, recreational or sporting nature) having a significant child membership or involvement;
– museums, councils, galleries and other like institutions are child-related employment if they provide programs specifically for children
• in entertainment venues where the clientele is primarily children;
- public fairs and events intended for children, children’s theatres, computer games
arcades, vacation care centres, public swimming pools and sports facilities are child-related employment
– zoos, aquariums, theme parks, fun parks, general theatres, circuses and cinemas are child-related employment if they provide programs specifically for children
• at overnight camps for children
– overnight camps covers activity specifically for children involving overnight accommodation, for example in tents, temporary shelters or group accommodation with organised recreation or programs
• in any religious organisation;
Furthur information of current legislation may be found at: