Bringing about a child-safe culture is the business of everyone
The main concern of the Child Safe Standards is to give organisations a framework to build a culture of awareness and commitment to being safe for children. In churches the best way to achieve this is to involve, inform and give responsibility to everyone, including the leadership team, in your church and to include families and empower children in the conversations about what makes them safe, and what makes them feel unsafe.
Child Safe Standard 1 (Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements) puts the responsibility for child safety on the leaders of your church, but a culture of child safety can only come about when everyone in the church contributes to ensuring that the children that come into contact with your ministries are safe, and when everyone makes it their business to prevent the abuse of children.
Child Safe Standards for playgroups
The Christian Playgroup Network recommends that playgroup leaders should be part of the conversation about, and the implementation of, the Child Safe Standards in their church. We encourage playgroup leaders to be proactive in asking the church leadership team what the Child Safe Standards mean for the playgroup. What does the church expect them to do and what support and training should they expect? You can ask if the church has a Statement of Commitment or Child Safe Policy, a written Code of Conduct, and policies for implementing each of the 7 Child Safe Standards. Your church leaders should be aware of relevant policies and resources produced by your denomination.
The following links will give you useful information to help you be familiar with the Child Safe Standards. By being well informed you can support your church leaders as they work on implementing the Child Safe Standards, and will help you think about what the Child Safe Standards mean in your playgroup context.
http://www.ccyp.vic.gov.au/child-safe-standards/index.htm, the Victorian Government Commission for Children and Young People website, provides information on the Child Safe Standards. There are helpful checklists/action plans and tip sheets on some crucial aspects that underpin the 7 standards. ‘A Guide for Creating a Child Safe Organisation’ can be found here.
https://www.childsafestandards.org.au, is an initiative of Victorian Council of Churches and National Council of Churches in partnership with the Victorian Government Commission for Children and Young People, specifically set up to resource churches in the implementation of the Child Safe Standards. All resources are available for no charge. They have an online training module, as well as helpful downloadable resources: https://www.childsafestandards.org.au/all-resources/
http://www.childsafe.org.au/ ChildSafe Limited is an initiative of Scripture Union Australia, offering training and resource packages to churches, including online training and a safety management system – go to the website for information on pricing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaxjSu4UGIw – ‘Children’s Perception of Safety’ is from a study commissioned by the Royal Commission, and undertaken by Australian Catholic University. It highlights key child safe messages, particularly with regard to being responsive to children’s needs and listening to children. This could be a useful video to facilitate discussion about why it is important to build a culture of child safety in your church, and particularly to introduce Standard 7, ‘Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children’.
Download the resource sheet to share this information with your playgroup team and church community: Child Safe Standards