Why on earth do we have to fill out a Keeping Children Safe Progress Report?
Why on earth do we need to obtain Working with Vulnerable People registrations?
One of my many areas of volunteer work is with The Helping Hand Association Inc. in Longford, which is a local ecumenically run emergency relief organisation. One day I was having a chat with one of our clients in the reception area and the issue of drugs entering the prison in Launceston came up.
Here I paraphrase the words of the client: Prisons are institutions. Institutions run on routines and all routines have weaknesses. Prisoners have plenty of time to sit back and observe the routines and locate the weaknesses. End of paraphrase.
Churches are at least to some extent institutions. They also have their routines and weaknesses. Those who would be predators of children and other vulnerable people have plenty of time to sit back and observe the routines and locate the weaknesses.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse showed the levels of success obtained by these predators and emphasised the responsibility of churches and other organisations to have appropriate barriers and responses to these issues. We are required to provide these barriers and responses in order to regain the respect of the community because even if we are squeaky clean we are tarnished in the eyes of the general public – the mission field. In order to share the good news, we need to show we are all safe.
Our Progress Reports allow the VicTas Synod to honestly report how we as a synod are responding to our obligations to the Australian community.
Our WWVP registrations allow the VicTas Synod to honestly report how we take our leadership responsibilities seriously.
These things may not stop those who wish to cause harm, however they will reduce opportunities and ensure safeguards and responses are in place.
Graham Booth – Safe Church Project Officer