10 March 2019
On Saturday many members of our churches completed the refresher version of the ‘Safe Ministry’ course run by the Diocese. The ‘Safe Ministry’ Course is one of the ways that we as a Diocese seek to protect and care for those we serve and particularly those who are in a vulnerable position. That includes children but also includes all who for a variety of reasons are vulnerable.
Anyone who ministers to any vulnerable person in an Anglican church in Sydney is required to have up to date Safe Ministry training. This has a significant impact on who is allowed to lead at our youth groups and kids clubs and who can teach Sunday School. From that stand point it’s good for us to have as many people as possible fully trained and compliant. It’s easy to get distracted however from the purpose of the training and think of it simply as a box to be ticked on our records.
The primary purpose of the training is not to cover us legally, rather, it’s to help all of us minister in more caring thoughtful and effective ways. To avoid causing inadvertent anxiety or even damage with the best of intentions. It also serves to make sure that everyone is on the same page with understanding what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in caring for children. When everyone understands expectations and best practices it is possible for us to hold one another to account and to ensure that all of our groups remain safe and transparent.
To this end, it is important that our churches maintain a culture of transparency and openness. If you do see anything that concerns you regarding the welfare of children in our care or indeed any other issue that demands attention then please bring that to the attention of a suitable person. In our context that suitable person could be me, but it could also be a church warden or parish counsellor. If you had concerns about anything related directly to me, then please don’t hesitate to go straight to a church warden, or if it seems more appropriate you can call the Bishop or the Professional Standards Unit of the Diocese directly. It should go without saying that if anyone has concerns about anything of a criminal nature then it would be entirely appropriate to speak directly to the police.
It is sad that we live in a world where we need to be so vigilant in these matters. In recent years we have been made to think far more about these things. Sadly that is not because the world has become more evil or more demanding, it’s simply because we have been made aware of the many ways in which people (including us!) have fallen short in the past. If anyone is interested in doing the Safe Ministry Course, please speak to me and I can give you all the details. It is now primarily an online course and can be done at your convenience.