Earlier in 2020, a change was made in NSW to the way that suspected abuse was to be reported to government bodies. The Office of the Children’s Guardian released this video to explain the changes that have occurred. You can watch the video, or read our summary below.
Reportable Conduct Scheme & Safe Ministry Check
For those using the Safe Ministry Check system, the changes that occur with the Reportable Conduct Scheme don’t mean any major changes to the way things operate. Really, the big change is the reporting of any allegation made about an employee. An employee is any individual in your church who “holds, or is required by the religious body to hold, a working with children check clearance for the purpose of engagement with the religious body”. This means that anyone who has a WWCC to work with children at your church, whether paid or volunteer is considered an employee by the Children’s Guardian Act 2019. The Reportable Conduct Scheme now requires religious bodies to report any allegations relating to an employee whether they occurred during the period the employee worked with the organisation or not. Any allegation surrounding an employee must be taken seriously and reported in the correct manner.
Luckily for churches using the Safe Ministry Check system, our example Incident Response Process document already includes this as part of the allegations process. Safe Ministry Contacts, when using the example documents, are required to report to the state ombudsman, which in the case of NSW is the office of the children’s guardian. If you’re a Safe Ministry Contact, it’s important that you know it’s your responsibility to report to the Office of the Children’s Guardian within 7 days of becoming aware of the allegations. Mandatory reporting laws for NSW also require employees to report allegations to the relevant state authorities, which should be encouraged by Safe Ministry Contacts as part of the Incident Response Process.
Child Safe Standards
One of the important things to know from the video is the implementation of the 10 Child Safe Standards in NSW. As the video outlines, the Child Safe Standards for NSW are based on the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse and are almost the same as the 10 National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. If you’re working towards the 10 National Principles, you’re also working towards the NSW Child Safe Standards. Organisations using Safe Ministry Check as intended will fulfill the 10 National Principles for Child Safe Organisations as outlined in this blog post.
If you have any other questions surrounding these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact the Safe Ministry Check team by sending us an email or giving us a phone call.