If it is an emergency, please contact the Police on 000.
The Presbyterian Church of Queensland (PCQ) has a policy of mandatory reporting for any disclosures or suspicions of harm of children involved within its ministry program or activities. This means all known abuse of children should be reported to the appropriate civil authorities.
In the event that a child discloses harm or abuse to you or one of your team, your response to their disclosure is very important. If a disclosure is made or reported to you, or there a suspicion of harm or abuse, then you will need to follow the procedure below. (Available as a POSTER)
Please be clear about the reporting chain in your church, so that no one is involved who does not need to be. While PCQ has created this reporting process to help protect victims of abuse, at any point you can contact the Police or Child Services directly.
If there is an immediate threat of harm to the child, contact the Police on 000 followed by immediate advice to the PresSafe Risk Management Officer (RMO) on 0499 599 741.
If a child discloses abuse to you, your role is to support them by listening sensitively – LISTEN, REASSURE, RESPECT.
Report the suspicion or disclosure to your Ministry Coordinator or Minister as soon as possible. They will liaise with the RMO and will together contact the parents of the child involved (unless allegations have been made against the parent.)
If the disclosure or suspicion of harm relates to child sexual abuse, please report this directly to Police on 131 444. This action is required by law to be undertaken as soon as reasonably practicable, and our organisational policy reflects this requirement. The RMO, Clerk, or your Ministry Coordinator or Minister can provide you with logistical support to make this report (e.g., you can ask for clarity on reporting requirements or assistance with reporting to the police.)
If you are under 18, please notify your Ministry Coordinator or Minister immediately as they will take on the responsibility for reporting to Police.
Once you have notified Police, the next step is to submit a Child Safety Report via the PCQ Safe Ministry with Children web page. Your Ministry Coordinator or Minister can assist you with the Child Safety Report. This report notifies the PresSafe RMO and the Clerk of Assembly who will then contact you about your report.
The next step, after you have contacted Police and submitted a Child Safety Report to the RMO & Clerk, is to then notify your Ministry Coordinator or Minister about the disclosure or suspicion of harm, if you have not already done so.
If a suspicion or disclosure relates to a Ministry Coordinator or Minister, the matter is to be reported directly to the RMO (unless it relates to child sexual abuse, then notify Police first.) The RMO and the Office of the Clerk of Assembly are to be immediately advised of any allegation of child abuse against an individual involved with a PCQ ministry. They will liaise with Police who will advise on suspension of the individual in accordance with their investigation.
NB: Please report directly to the authorities if you have any concerns that the reporting procedure is not being followed by your Ministry Coordinator or Minister.
Document the disclosure or suspicion, when you are able. A record of this will be kept by a Ministry Coordinator or Minister. For a disclosure, please include the following:
- Names, times, locations of matter disclosed.
- Any first person statements.
- Any questions asked.
- Actions taken after the disclosure.
Do not attempt to investigate or mediate. This is the role of the police and by attempting this yourself you may interfere with their subsequent investigation.
You must protect the identity of the victim. Do not discuss the situation with anyone who is not part of this official process. This includes discussing the suspicion or disclosure with any other families or individuals who may be involved. For example, if the allegations are made by a child against a peer, do not confront this person or mediate with their family. This is not your role.
Please also note, the misuse of Scripture (specifically Matthew 18:15-17) as a basis to attempt reconciliation of parties is not acceptable. Abuse is a criminal matter and requires our submission to the authorities (see Romans 13:1-5; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17) to allow them to deal with the crime. Furthermore, given the unequal power status, any coercion of a victim of abuse to reconcile with their abuser is itself a form of emotional abuse.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
- The PresSafe Risk Management Officer (RMO) will liaise with Police, Child Services and parents.
- Support for and counselling of the victim will be provided. Further support and counselling will be available to the ministry team and congregation as required. This will take place in conjunction with the RMO. The RMO will decide whether to activate the PCQ Emergency Response Team.
- A Minister or Ministry Coordinator can use the Child Safety Report as required.
This information is available as a poster to display at your church:
DOWNLOAD DISCLOSURE POSTER