Welcome to the Child Safe page for our church. This is our place to find all the information relating to Child Safety at The Bellarine Gateway Anglican Parish or links to relevant information.
Our commitment to child safety
The Bellarine Gateway Anglican Parish (BGAP) is committed to child safe practice. The care, the safety and the welfare of children are embedded in policies and practices which ensure a commitment to zero tolerance of child abuse. When Jesus uttered his beautiful words,
Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
he set the benchmark for us. We want to continue to be a church where children and families are welcome and participate fully. We want to be an open community where people of all ages gather and interact. We want to be a church where children and young people are fully engaged and have every opportunity to flourish and grow. We want to be a safe place and to put no barriers in place that will harm or hinder children and young people.
All actions and programs will maintain high ethical standards and work in accord with child safe practices and child protection reporting guidelines. The participation and empowerment of all children is a consideration in decision-making, as we seek to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children are respected and listened to.
BGAP has zero tolerance of child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our robust policies and procedures. We have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously. BGAP is committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these risks.
What is Child Abuse?
Abuse and neglect includes but is not limited to:
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Family Violence
- Sexual Abuse
Our staff and Volunteers
BGAP is committed to regularly training and educating our staff and volunteers on child abuse risks. All of our staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conduct, which specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children. All staff and volunteers, as well as children and their families, are given the opportunity to contribute to the development of the code of conduct.
Training and education are important to ensure that everyone in our organisation understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Our organisational culture aims for all staff and volunteers (in addition to parents/carers and children) to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. We train our staff and volunteers to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.
We also support our staff and volunteers through ongoing supervision to: develop their skills to protect children from abuse; and promote the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from linguistically and/or diverse backgrounds, and the safety of children with a disability.
New employees and volunteers will be supervised regularly to ensure they understand our organisation’s commitment to child safety and that everyone has a role to play in protecting children from abuse, as well as checking that their behaviour towards children is safe and appropriate (please refer to this organisation’s code of conduct to understand appropriate behaviour further). Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through appropriate channels, including the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police, depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.
We take all reasonable steps to employ skilled people to work with children. We develop selection criteria and advertisements which clearly demonstrate our commitment to child safety and an awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities. Our organisation understands that when recruiting staff and volunteers we have ethical as well as legislative obligations.
We actively encourage applications from Aboriginal peoples, people from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with a disability.
All people engaged in child-related work, including volunteers, are required to hold a Working with Children Check and to provide evidence of this Check. Please see the Working with Children Check website for further information.
Working with Children Checks are confirmed every month and this confirmation is recorded in the Parish Council minutes.
We carry out reference checks and police record checks to ensure that we are recruiting the right people. Police record checks are used only for the purposes of recruitment and are discarded after the recruitment process is complete. We do retain our own records (but not the actual criminal record) if an applicant’s criminal history affected our decision making process.
If during the recruitment process a person’s records indicate a criminal history then the person will be given the opportunity to provide further information and context.
We support and respect all children. We are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as the safety of children with a disability. We have specific policies, procedures and training in place that support our leadership team, staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments.
Fair procedures for personnel
The safety and wellbeing of children is our primary concern. We are also fair and just to personnel. The decisions we make when recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent, and based on evidence.
We record all allegations of abuse and safety concerns using our incident reporting form, including investigation updates. All records are securely stored.
If an allegation of abuse or a safety concern is raised, we provide updates to children and families on progress and any actions we as an organisation take.
All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they are staff, volunteers, parents or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will have access to it.
Our organisation takes our legal responsibilities seriously, including:
Failure to disclose:
Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults in Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.
Failure to protect:
People of authority in our organisation will commit an offence if they know of a substantial risk of child sexual abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.
Any personnel who are mandatory reporters must comply with their duties.
In Victoria, organisations are required to protect children when a risk is identified (see information about failure to protect above). In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.
We have risk management strategies in place to identify, assess, and take steps to minimise child abuse risks, which include risks posed by physical environments (for example, any doors that can lock), and online environments (for example, no staff or volunteer is to have contact with a child in organisations on social media).
This policy will be reviewed every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We will ensure that families and children have the opportunity to contribute. Where possible we do our best to work with local Aboriginal communities, culturally and/or linguistically diverse communities and people with a disability.
Allegations, concerns and complaints
Our organisation takes all allegations seriously and has practices in place to investigate thoroughly and quickly. Our staff and volunteers are trained to deal appropriately with allegations.
We work to ensure all children, families, staff and volunteers know what to do and who to tell if they observe abuse or are a victim, and if they notice inappropriate behaviour.
We all have a responsibility to report an allegation of abuse if we have a reasonable belief that an incident took place (see information about failure to disclose above).
If an adult has a reasonable belief that an incident has occurred then they must report the incident. Factors contributing to reasonable belief may be:
- a child states they or someone they know has been abused (noting that sometimes the child may in fact be referring to themselves)
- behaviour consistent with that of an abuse victim is observed
- someone else has raised a suspicion of abuse but is unwilling to report it
observing suspicious behaviour.
For immediate help
To report concerns that are life threatening, ring Victoria Police 000
To contact a child protection office close to you, call a local office.
To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child after hours, call:
After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service
Ph: 13 12 78 (5.00pm – 9.00am Monday – Friday, 24 hours on weekends and public holidays).
Note: this is an emergency service for week nights, weekends and public holidays only.
How to make a complaint
The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne takes all complaints of misconduct very seriously. This information is intended to help you if you wish to make a complaint, have been or are being abused or harassed by clergy or Church officers, including Regional Bishops, in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne.
If you wish to make a complaint about the Archbishop of Melbourne, please refer to Episcopal Standards.
Kooyoora Ltd has been appointed by the Melbourne Diocese to respond to all complaints of misconduct including sexual, physical, spiritual or emotional abuse by clergy or Church officers. Kooyoora Ltd is an independent Professional Standards company which undertakes Professional Standards work for non for profit charitable entities.
The first step in making a complaint is to call the recorded information line at any time on:
1800 135 246
All information provided to this service is strictly confidential. The person taking a message on this number will ask you to give a name and your phone number or address so that the Director can contact you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can write to the Director:
Director of Professional Standards
PO Box 329
Canterbury VIC 3126
The Department of Human Services presentation may be accessed here as a PDF.
A great website to get a lot of information regarding Child Protection is the Department of Human Services website. This includes definitions of abuse, how to report and who to report to.
The Victorian Council of Churches Child Safe Standards site for faith communities.