The foundations for creating Safe Ministries are God’s love for all people, the gift of boundaries, team ministry duty of care & organisational responsibilities. These our outworked though transparent and accountable policy, procedures and practices.
It is important that as we examine the topics of boundaries, conflict, ministry misconduct, and abuse issues in the church, we remember that Christian ministry has a 2000 year tradition of positive, life giving, servant ministry to all the world.
As we implement Safe Ministry policies and procedures we aims to assist in preventing harm which is cased when those given positions of trust and power as a Christian leaders misuse power, betraying the trust placed in them.
Over the past 20 years in the Australian Church we have seen the establishment of Professional Standards and Ethics Committees across the Australian church, which has seen the development of policy and procedures for Safe Ministry which is also called Safeguarding, Safe Church &/or Safer Churches. Initially Committees where established to respond to revelations of historical child sexual abuse within the church. This was reactive or a response focused approach, i.e. responding once harm had already occurred. Processes were adopted for caring for those harmed, and for holding offenders accountable.
More recently, over the past 10 years, there has been a focus on preventative policy, procedures, training and codes of conduct.
In Australia, churches are required to abide by the laws surrounding Work Health and Safety (WHS), child and elder abuse, concealment of crime, reporting concerns of child well- being and Working with Children Checks.
SMR recommends the implementation of a Safe Ministry Strategy that will help ensure implementation of Safe Ministry policy and procedures in sustainable ways, for safe environments for both children and adults alike. In this way you will also ensure your church complies with legislation and regulations.
Consider the following as part of a Safe Ministry strategy:
• Safe Ministry policy & associated procedures
• Safe Ministry education procedures
• Annual approval for ministry process
• Fair and just response to concerns procedures
• Ongoing monitoring & review mechanisms
• Staff for resourcing the strategy
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