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Safe Church Program

NCCA Child Safety Framework Launch 

After twelve months of consultation with Child Wise and our Safe Church Program members, we are pleased to announce the launch of our NCCA Child Safety Framework and resources. 

The NCCA Safe Church Program pages of the website have been completely revised and updated with a variety of new resources and information to assist you with your safeguarding journey. These are available now and we invite you to explore them. For a full update, please see the Safe Church Framework and the information below.

Reflection: NCCA General Secretary 

As the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), I am privileged to present the NCCA Safe Church Program’s new Child Safety Framework to our Australian churches, church entities and parachurch organisations. In acknowledging the pain and trauma of the survivors of abuse, we wish to honour their bravery in coming forward by presenting a Framework against which we can be measured (Matthew 7:2). Never again do we want others to suffer as you did, nor forget our mission as baptized followers of Christ. 

Theological Reflection for the NCCA Safe Church Framework

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed a catastrophic failure on the part of many institutions in Australia including churches. A systemic problem was revealed beyond the matter of criminal and sinful behaviour of individuals. It was also made clear that the victims of abuse suffered further abuse in the way they were treated by others, including church leaders. For churches, the systemic and institutional failure must be addressed. This is our ecumenical endeavour as the National Council of Churches in Australia and this was the reason for the establishment of the Safe Church Program in 2005 and the development of training and Safe Church Awareness Workshops that have been run across Australia since 2008.

If, as Rev Dr Gerard Kelly encourages us, we see ‘The Church’ as ‘A Community of Memory’1, then the responsibility of the whole church, but especially its leaders, is to keep the memory of Jesus alive in the community. Since the time of the earliest Christian communities, the Scriptures are a fundamental way in which memory is kept alive (Luke 1:1-2 and Acts 1:1-2). 

The actions that resulted from the churches’ failure of memory had the effect of breaking the bonds of communion with the most vulnerable members of the church. It has been a failure to remember that a particular focus of Jesus’ ministry was vulnerable people: the widows and children (Matthew 18:3; Matthew 19:14; Luke 7:11-17). The churches failed to be a safe place (John 10:9-10); a place where all who enter by Christ can find and enjoy the fullness of life. 

This failure of memory means that the mission of the church in the world has been compromised. As the Bible is the ultimate authority for how we fulfil the mission of the church it should shape the practice of the church (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and in both the Old and New Testament scriptures God instructs His chosen people or the church to care for the vulnerable in society.2

In engaging in the task of church reform, that is implicit to this NCCA Child Safety Framework, we must go back to the heart of the gospel as this enables us to keep the memory of Jesus’ ministry of inclusion and compassion alive for the victims and all the faithful in our churches. We honour God through our safe ministry to all those who are created in God’s image and likeness.

Elizabeth (Liz) Stone, General Secretary

1 Kelly, Gerard Rev. Dr, An Ecclesiological Reflection after the Royal Commission (Internal Paper presented to NCCA Faith & Unity Commission, Melbourne, November 2018). 

2 Thacker, Craig, Discussion Paper regarding the Biblical Perspective of Christian Professional Standards within Church (Internal Paper presented to NCCA Faith & Unity Commission, Melbourne, November 2018).

 

The NCCA Child Safety Framework

This Framework has been developed in consultation with Child Wise, which supports public, private and not-for profit organisations to develop child safe environments and cultures. 

Built around the core pillars of: Leadership, Governance and Culture; Empowerment and Participation of Children and Young People; and Capacity Building, the Framework has been designed to support churches and faith communities on their safeguarding journey. 

The Framework comprises five downloadable user friendly documents:

  1. Introduction and Background
  2. Child Safety Framework Pillars
  3. Child Safety Standards
  4. Guiding Indicators for Developing Training
  5. Self Assessment

The Framework is available to purchase from the Safe Church Program pages of the NCCA website here

The NCCA Safe Church Program Resource Hub

Resource Hub based on the ten Child Safety Standards has been developed to provide guidance on the practical implementation of the Framework. These resources have been sourced from across faith based and non-faith based organisations, and are available here for you to explore

We are confident the new Framework and resources will be a ‘value add’ for our members, and those involved with church and faith based organisations and we are extremely happy to have it available for anyone who would like to utilise it.  

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