Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Australian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church


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Safe Place Services 

About Safe Place Services

Keeping the Children of the Church Safe

CPP Workshop Conference Safe Place Committee  The Committee for Sexual Ethics
General Enquiries and Information What is Child Protection Policy? Dealing with Complains Local Church Safe Place Committee Workshops and Seminars

Safe Place Services is dedicated to helping our churches and work places be safe for children and vulnerable people.
Safe Place Services contributes to a culture of awareness and safety by providing the following services:
  • Helps raise awareness and a sense of responsibility about sexual abuse and misconduct and child protection in churches and church institutions by disseminating information to members, employees, congregations and administrators
  • Supplies education and training resources
  • Arranges for appropriate support to be given to complainants, persons subject of allegations, ministers, local churches and conferences
  • Operates and maintains the 1800 number
  • Writes policy and procedures in the area of sexual abuse/harassment and child protection for local churches, conferences, unions and the division and associated organisations

General Enquiries and Information:


Phone 02 9487 5833
Fax 02 9487 5844
Write to: The Director
PO Box 650
WAHROONGA    NSW     2076
Safe Place Services Support Line - free phone
Australia                     1800 220 468
Norfolk Island            1800 1410
New Zealand             0800 442 458
  • Enquiries or complaints can be made through the free phone.
  • This is not a crisis number and is not always answered immediately, however, callers can leave their name and/or contact number and calls are generally returned within 24 hours.
  • The phone is staffed by trained professionals who can listen to the caller and assist with options that are available to them.
  • If callers decide they want to take further action, the contact person will explain the following:
    1.  The church’s procedures for dealing with such complaints
    2.  The availability of pastoral support services
    3.  The right to seek legal or civil action
    4.  The obligation of the contact person to report all allegations of child sexual abuse or harassment to local statutory authorities
    5.  Confidentiality
Keeping the Children of the Church Safe
Churches are inherently vulnerable because they:
·       Are a trusting community
·       Often have little awareness of the facts about abuse
·       Frequently lack safeguards against abuse
·       Have numerous opportunities for access to children
·       Generally have an ongoing need for volunteers to work with children and youth
·       Have an entrenched culture that creates barriers to safety such as denial, fear, complacency
·       A lack of appropriate resources
A responsible or ‘child-safe’ church:
·                 Welcomes and respects children, young people and their parents/care-givers
·                 Acknowledges a duty of car to children and young people
·                 Values and empowers children, young people by listening to them
·                 Ensures facilities are properly maintained
·                 Identifies potential risks to children and young people and work continuously to reduce and prevent risk
·                 Enables safe participation in child-related activities
·                 Provides support, training and clear guidelines for staff and volunteers
·                 Encourages parental participation
What is a Child Protection Policy?
  • It is a statement of the local church’s commitment to child safety
  • It outlines the strategies that will be used to guide decisions and actions on child protection matters
  • It includes:
            -     a statement of intent
-        responsibilities of a local church
-        definitions
-        what to do if you suspect a child has been abused
-        confidentiality issues
-        responding to disclosures of abuse
-        the process for selecting and screening volunteers to work with children
-        guidelines and procedures for child safety eg bathroom/toileting procedure, discipline, the ‘two person’ rule, transport of children
-        guidelines for church attendance for alleged and’or convicted sex offenders
-        role of the local church Safe Place Committee
-        resources
What is Included in a Child Protection Policy Implementation Workshop?
  • Definition of child sexual assault and statistics
  • Dynamics of child sexual assault
  • Who perpetrators are and what their tactics are
  • Conducting a child protection risk assessment
  • Reporting procedures for child sexual assault
  • Responding to a disclosure
  • Screening volunteers working with children
  • Limited access agreements for offenders
  • Arenas of safety for churches
  • Role of Safe Place Services
  • How to implement a child protection policy
Dealing with Complaints
A three-tier system exists for dealing with complaints coming through the 1800 number.
  1. Any allegation of sexual abuse made by an adult against another adult is dealt with by the local church or local conference unless the perpetrator is an employee.
  1. Any allegation of child sexual abuse is reported to the relevant government authorities and then Safe Place Services conducts a risk assessment that is sent to the local conference Safe Place Committee for actioning.
  1. Any allegation of sexual abuse or misconduct against an employee is investigated by the relevant government authority if needed and by Safe Place Services and the report sent to the Committee for Sexual Ethics and then the employing body for actioning.
The process for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse:
Conference Safe Place Committee
The Conference Safe Place committee is responsible to the Executive Committee of the Conference. It’s role:
  • Facilitates the provision of resources, education and training for local church leaders, parents and carers of at risk persons and all church attendees in procedures for keeping the church a safe place
  • Provides training and resources to assist local churches in caring for survivors of abuse
  • Helps the local church in the processing and storage of screening forms
  • Reports incidents of abuse to Safe Place Services and the relevant government authorities that have not already been reported
  • Responds to requests from local churches for advice on establishing Limited access Agreements with persons attending who are the subject of an abuse allegation or persons who have been convicted of abuse offences
  • Enlists professionals to provide an assessment to the local church of the likelihood of a person who has been convicted of an abuse offence, re-offending
  • Receives risk assessments from Safe Place Services and acts on them
  • Receives reports on compliance to Limited Access Agreements that are in place and monitors their effectiveness
  • Advises trustee companies of the church of the risks attached to persons who are the subject of abuse allegations or persons convicted of abuse offences having access to school or care facilities
  • Maintains a synergy and communication between the conference, the local church and Safe Place Services
Local Church Safe Place Committee
The local church Safe Place Committee is responsible to the local church Board. It:
  • Develops and implements the Local Church Child Protection Policy document and submits the document and the implementation process to the Conference Safe Place Committee for review.
  • Requests the Conference Safe Place Committee to assist in the provision of resources, education and training for local church leaders, parents and carers of at risk persons and all church attendees in procedures for keeping the church a safe place
  • Reports the alleged incidents of abuse to the Police or the statutory body for children if the allegation has not already been reported to these organisations and reports all matters of alleged abuse to Safe Place Services for investigation/risk assessment.
  • Forwards a report to the Conference Safe Place Committee foradvice onthe implementation of a Limited Access Agreement with the person who is the subject of the abuse allegation.
  • Refers a request to attend the local church by a person who has been convicted of an abuse offence to the Conference Safe Place Committee for assessment and receives and acts on the advice of the conference committee.
  • Participates with the Conference Safe Place Committee to develop and implement a Limited Access Agreement with a person who is the subject of an allegation or with a person who has been convicted of an abuse offence who is considered a “low” risk and has been approved eligible by the Conference Committee. 
  • Requests training from the Conference Safe Place Committee in the procedures for monitoring those persons who have entered into Limited Access Agreements with the local church and monitors compliance with the conditions of the Agreement.
The Committee for Sexual Ethics
Has members that are representative of both genders and at least one member with a legal background.
This committee receives reports of investigations of allegations made against church employees. It may make further enquiries. It considers the evidence for the complaint in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness. It determines the outcomes of the complaints and makes recommendations to the appropriate employing body.
Risk Assessment
The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify and minimise the risks to:
the child/person who is the subject of the allegation
other vulnerable people with whom the person subject of allegation may have contact
the person subject of allegation against whom the allegation has been made
the church both local and corporate
The following issues are considered:
Should the person subject of allegation remain in their current position?
If the person subject of allegation continues to attend a church who will monitor their behaviour?
Factors to be considered in the risk assessment include:
the nature and seriousness of the allegation
vulnerability of children the person subject of allegation would be in contact with
the nature of the position occupied by the person subject of allegation
the level of supervision that can be given to the person subject of allegation
support for the person subject of allegation and the local church and minister
What can we provide for conferences, institutions and churches?
1                 Workshops for:
·       Ministers and administrators in crossing boundaries, maintaining arenas of safety
·       Teachers on the Child Protection Policy for schools
·       Church members in prevention of child abuse, sexual harassment, arenas of safety and child protection
·       Administration, ministry and churches on justice making and healing
2                 Policies
·       Child Protection Policy for schools
·       Sexual Harassment Policy
·       Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Policy
3                 Consultancy
·       For Union, Conference and institution staff eg implementation of policy
·       For ministers eg how to deal with persons subject of allegations in their congregation and how to support victims
4                 Support and information for:
·       Complainants
·       Persons subject of allegations
·       Ministers
·       Administration
Crossing Boundaries for Pastors and Administrators
A two-day seminar designed to help pastors:
        Maintain the integrity of their ministerial relationships
        Protect vulnerable people to whom they minister (e.g. children, students, staff, employees, church members)
What the Seminar presents:
        Defines “Abuse” and what constitutes sexual abuse/assault within ministerial relationships (including sexual harassment and spiritual abuse)
        Statistics and statements that describe the nature and extent of the problem of sexual abuse/assault among clergy
        Understanding the dynamics of sexual abuse/assault
       Characteristics of ministerial abusers
       Typical attempts at rationalising this behaviour
       Consequences for victims of abuse – risk factors
       The impact of abuse on congregations
        Why churches are inherently vulnerable
        Organisational responsibilities
        How to respond to abuse
       The idea of “Power” and “Responsibility” in ministerial relationships
       Defining boundaries
       Meaningful consent
       Understanding the difference between “wanderers” and “predators”
       Identifying the warning signs of a “sexualized relationship”
        The nature and hazards of professional and personal relationships
       Developing a theology of self-care
       4 hazards – work, stress, burnout, loneliness
        Strategies for minimizing the risk of ministers violating their boundaries
        Appropriate institutional responses when abuse occurs
       The journey towards justice
       Establishing “arenas of safety”
       Writing a local church “Child Protection Policy”
       Creating opportunities for restoring victims and congregations
       Ways of responding to individual’s who misuse their power and authority
       Restoring the integrity of the ministry

DVD presentations used in the seminar