The following principles provide guidance on the expected behaviour to create a safe environment and ensure children are protected from harm and abuse.
This information is taken from the Presbyterian Church of Australian National Safe Ministry Framework.
- Fundamental Conviction
We remember at all times that we are representing the Lord Jesus Christ in all our conduct and we will, accordingly, strive to refrain from any action that is contrary to Scripture or a law of the land consistent with Scripture or which violates the requirements of biblical ethics, striving to ensure that all our conduct is motivated by love for God and a desire to commend him and to promote his glory.
2. Statement of Commitment
2.1 The Presbyterian Church of Australia (PCA) is committed to ensuring that a safe environment is established and maintained for all persons associated with the Church and for those accessing its services, especially children. The Church requires all paid employees and all volunteers serving within it to create an environment that will help people flourish and cause no harm particularly harm arising from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; or neglect.
2.2 The Presbyterian Church of Australia recognises its obligation to
2.2.1 Ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children (being persons under the age of 18) involved in its activities.
2.2.2 Implement policies and procedures to safeguard children from child abuse or harm including emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or neglect.
2.2.3 Refuse to tolerate any behaviour that might result in child abuse or harm.
3.1 Love and compassion The Presbyterian Church of Australia, and its State Churches, is bound by the example of the love and compassion of Jesus Christ in his ministry.
3.2 Service to others The unique nature of servanthood, which Jesus Christ demonstrated to his disciples and which they then encouraged Christians to display, is the foundation of the Safe Ministry Principles.
3.3 Humility Jesus spoke of himself as being a servant of others and not one who came to be served. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, encourages us not to live with a selfish purpose, but with humility, thinking of others as better than ourselves. As people chosen by God to serve him in obedience, we are to live as those who watch out for what is good for others rather than watching out for our own good.
3.4 Gentleness Paul urges the early Church to let their gentleness show in their treatment of all people.
3.5 Nurture and protection As a Church we are to nurture and protect children. This responsibility rests on everyone involved in church life.
3.6 Respect The Safe Ministry Principles seek to inform the Church and create a culture which promotes respectful relationships and maintains an ongoing safe environment free of abuse of children. Whilst this responsibility rests immediately with leaders and those involved in ministry to children, it is also a shared responsibility of the whole Church.
3.7 Christian faith and practice Those serving in leadership and working directly with children and young people, accept a position of trust which places on them a commitment to carry out their role in accord with the Doctrine and Christian values of the Church.
3.8 Consistency and integrity Breaches of the Safe Ministry Protocols by any person, regardless of position, are taken seriously and may result in the questioning of that persons’ capacity to continue to serve,as well as the implementation of boundaries deemed necessary to protect children.
3.9 Accountability The Church can be one of the few places where an Offender or Person of Concern, as a recipient of God’s love and grace, can find a Christian welcome, Scriptural teaching and encouragement to grow in Christ. However, participation in the life of a Christian church or organisation is not a guarantee of Christlike behaviour nor a guarantee against repeating past sinful behaviour that has been abusive and caused harm. Therefore, the Church must communicate clear expectations and firm boundaries with transparency and accountability in relation to an Offender or Person of Concern who participates in the life of the Church. This helps to ensure that the Church is safe for children.
4. Foundational Principles
4.1 In our aim to create a safe environment and in our quest to ensure that children are protected from abuse and harm, the following principles must guide the behaviour expected of all persons involved in ministry-related activities:
4.1.1 Become familiar with and act in accordance with the National Safe Ministry Framework (including its Principles, Policy, and Procedures) and any Code of Conduct and specific Procedures established by the relevant State Church
4.1.2 Understand that perpetration of any physical, psychological or emotional harm or neglect, or sexual abuse or exploitation is unacceptable, that it will be treated seriously and sensitively, and that it must be reported in accordance with the Church’s Mandatory Reporting Policy and Procedures
4.1.3 In all aspects of personal life and relationships and at all times, strive to act according to the highest standards, demonstrating courtesy, consideration and good judgement
4.1.4 Treat all people with respect and dignity regardless of age, culture, gender, religious affiliation, personal circumstances or any other point of differentiation
4.1.5 Accept and exercise the duty of care appropriate for each and all participants
4.1.6 In accord with Scripture, engage only in lawful activity and never assist persons engaged in illegal activities
4.1.7 Strive to carry out all relevant roles in accordance with the doctrines and values of the Presbyterian Church of Australia
4.1.8 Respect the authority of leaders and act in accordance with reasonable directions
4.1.9 Only engage in actions and activities that are appropriate for children where ministry-related activities involve children
4.1.10 Complete any and all training required by the Church in relation to ministry roles; and
4.1.11 Create and maintain appropriate resources for use and training in ministry.
4.2 As the application of these National Principles in specific situations requires interpretation, those involved in ministry must seek advice if placed in a position of uncertainty.