Grovedale Baptist Church

Safe Church Policy

This Safe Church policy and Child Safe policy (including Appendix) was approved by the Church Council on 13 October 2016 and endorsed by members of the church at a general meeting held on 16 October 2016. Amended by Church Council 12 September 2019, 13 February 2020,  12 August 2021, and 15 June 2022.

We affirm that all people have the right to be emotionally and physically safe, respected, and have their views and opinions valued at all times. We also live in a country that legislates for people’s safety.

God calls his body to minister to vulnerable people. God identified classes of vulnerable people who were to be protected and given special care and treatment in society because of their powerlessness (Ex 22:21-22, Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Jeremiah 22:2-4, James 1:27).

Our policy has been developed to help us live out our Biblical mandate and our responsibilities under Australian legislation.

OUR POLICY AIMS TO:

  • Minimise the risk of abuse, ministry misconduct and the misuse of positional power.
  • Ensure that all cases of suspected abuse and ministry misconduct are handled thoroughly.
  • Ensure that leaders and programs are safe.
  • Ensure that all people are respected and valued.
  • Demonstrate a duty of care towards all church attendees, being guided by the restrictions outlined by Baptist Insurance in regard to the policy defining Volunteers Insurance coverage.

WE COMMIT TO

1. Safe recruitment of leaders.

  • We will screen all prospective leaders in our ministries before they are appointed. (i.e. relevant working with children’s check/vulnerable people/police check  and referee checks from previous church where they have served/attended).
  • We will have a minimum church attendance policy for all prospective volunteer leaders.

2.  Adequate training of leaders.

  • We require that all leaders complete the Safe Ministry Check online workshops (or SCTA endorsed workshop) within their first year of ministry and complete a refresher workshop every 12 months.
  • We require all leaders to attend additional ministry-specific training as required.

3.  Continued supervision of leaders.

  • We commit to ongoing leadership training, supervision, and support for leaders.
  • All leaders will agree to follow our Leader’s Conduct Covenant.

4. Responding to allegations of risk of harm (abuse) and serious ministry misconduct.

  • All leaders will report disclosures or suspicions of child abuse, according to our procedures.
  • Where a leader has an allegation of ministry misconduct made against them, we will provide support to alleged victims and perpetrators and seek appropriate denominational help for a just and fair resolution.

5.  Safe environments in our ministry programs.

  • We will serve participants as servants of Christ, commit to the good news of Jesus and lead in spiritually non-abusive ways.
  • We will afford participants (including children and young people) a say in the programs and the activities in which they participate by fostering and valuing their ideas and encouraging participation.
  • We will obtain appropriate information relating to the program participants, including children’s health and family situation, cultural identity to ensure that we are able to care for their physical and emotional needs.  This information will be kept confidential.
  • All leaders to discharge their duty of care through the use of forms, checklists and templates for establishment and maintenance of safe environments in our church.
  • A Safety Team will be appointed by Church Council to establish and maintain: WHS, fire safety, building safety, first aid, food safety, safe transport, incident and emergency procedures.
  • Ministry Coordinators are to complete a written ministry approval process annually.
  • People aged 85 and over can only volunteer to do light duties as determined by Church Council.
  • Persons required to use a mobility aid are required to use it at all times, and regardless of age, will only be permitted to do light duties as determined by Church Council.

DEFINITIONS

Child: a person who is under the age of 18 years.

Safe Environment: discharges duty of care by taking steps to keep all those in our care safe from: spiritual, physical, sexual, racial, emotional abuse (including bullying) or neglect.

The Safety Team: is responsible for the oversight of the implementation of the WHS & Safe Church Policy and supporting documentation and processes in local churches/organisations.

Approval for Ministry: a process of written accountability, whereby the senior church leaders approve a programs /event to take place in the church/organisation’s name.

Ministry Coordinators: Oversee a group of programs and or events in the church, for example the children and youth leaders. This is a role that should be undertaken by a senior church leader e.g. priest/pastors, elders, deacons as is it contains significant positional power.

Safe Leader: has been through a recruitment process, understands responsibilities, is supervised and is an accountable team player.

Safe Ministry Program: all risks have been assessed and events thought through and planned. These programs have had permission to proceed from a ministry co-ordinator

Program (event) Leaders: responsible for a teams and programs. They jointly recruit team members and complete safety management plans for their individual programs.

SCTA: Safe Church Training Agreement under the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Light Duties: Defined by Church Council, these are activities that can only be undertaken while seated. Examples: Counting the offering, Bible Reading from a seated position but not the serving of communion.   

The Safe Church Policy applies to all staff members and volunteer workers associated with the ministry in our church.

Grovedale Baptist Church

Child Safe Policy

We therefore implement the following as a part of our Safe Church policy:

  1. Display in our church building, on our literature and web page the statement that the Grovedale Baptist Church is a safe place for children and older persons.
  • Every leader in the church, both paid and volunteer, is committed to upholding the approved code of conduct for leaders that sets out the standard of responsible and ethical behaviour expected of leaders within the Grovedale Baptist Church. Refer Appendix 1
  • The recruitment of leaders in our ministries will involve a screening process that includes a Working with Children check, a Police Check where needed, a six-month period of regular church attendance before being allowed to engage in any ministry and the obtaining of referrals from previous churches if relevant.
  • When children do come to this church with family members, we will maintain the following guidelines:
    • They will not be left alone in the care of one non family adult at any time, in any isolated area of the church building.
    • They will stay in the main sanctuary during the church service and undertake activities, if available, on tables at the rear of the sanctuary, supervised by family.
    • They will be treated with respect and there will be no unwelcome physical contact.
    • Those identifying as Aboriginal will be encouraged to express their unique and diverse identity, with the church supporting and facilitating a culture of inclusion and acceptance.
    • If there are any concerns, they will be reported to the ‘Head of Organisation’.
  • The safety needs of children and older adults will be an agenda item for every Church Council meeting to ensure that a safe culture is maintained and that the physical facilities meet the requirements of providing a safe place for children and older adults.

Appendix 1:  LEADERSHIP CODE OF CONDUCT

We, Grovedale Baptist Church, commit ourselves to a standard of responsible and ethical behaviour which is expected in our church and will bring honour and glory to God. Our code is underpinned by trust and a belief that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity.

  • This Code of Conduct gives guidance about what practices (actions) are supported and what practices are NOT condoned.
  • The Code of Conduct is not exhaustive and does not foresee every set of circumstances that may arise across the variety of Church events and activities.
  • The Code of Conduct should be viewed as an educational guide to the principles that help inform what is appropriate conduct.
  • The Code of Conduct values the social, relational, cultural, and interpersonal safety and wellbeing of people of all ages. The Code of Conduct also values the role of leaders and mentors by prompting transparent, accountable relationships that promote trust and confidence in the Church and its programs.

We, Grovedale Baptist Church value:

Respect, Trust, Integrity, Honesty, Humility, Support, Compassion, Community, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Generosity and Thankfulness, Equality and Inclusiveness, Justice, Service and Stewardship, Peace and Confidentiality.

We commit ourselves to living out these values in all areas of our lives.

We commit ourselves to understanding and compliance with the legislation and policies applying to Safe Church and Child Safe.


We commit ourselves to:

  1. Conduct ourselves at all times in a manner that honours God and His Church.
  • Endeavour to conduct all personal relations in a godly manner, acting with respect, love, integrity and truthfulness toward all those we seek to associate, irrespective of their race, gender, position or religious position.
  • Where grievances occur and a resolution is not forthcoming, that we will seek additional assistance. We will seek every effort to pursue reconciliation following biblical principles when conflict or division occurs. Issues pertaining to criminal actions, bullying or sexual misconduct will be handled in accordance with Baptist Union of Victoria policies and we will report to the Police as required by law.
  • Be diligent in providing each other with information and resources to fulfil our roles and be mindful of the expectations others have of us.
  • Be truthful and honest in our communication with each other. We will be willing to share our reflections, concerns and ideas with each other.
  • Be loyal in our support of each other and other church members. We may express our opinions robustly but understand that once collective decisions have been reached we support the outcomes.
  • Actively promote:
  • A safe environment where abuse of any nature is neither tolerated nor able to take place.
  • A safe environment where racism of any kind is not tolerated nor able to take place.

b. A safe environment where bullying of any kind is neither tolerated nor able to take place. 

Bullying can include:

  • Exclusion from a group or activity
  • Intimidation
  • Extortion

c. A safe environment where harassment is neither tolerated nor allowed to take place. Harassment is unwelcome conduct whether intended or not which makes another person feel offended, belittled, threatened which may occur through a single incident or a series of incidents over a period of time.

Harassment can include:

  • Unwelcome physical contact
  • Gestures or language that could give offence including unwarranted shouting
  • Unjustified or unnecessary comments about a person’s attributes or abilities.
  • In all financial matters act with scrupulous honesty and publicly account for all monies handled by us on behalf of others.
  • Confidentiality: confidentiality and trust are fundamental to sound church relationships and must be upheld within the constraints of the law and statutory requirements. Voluntary reporting is strongly encouraged where a belief has been formed that there is a requirement to do so.

This code of conduct will be reviewed annually at the first leadership meeting of each year following the election of church leadership in December of the previous year. This policy was reviewed and amended by Church Council on: 15 June 2022