The Seventh-day Adventist Church has responded to recent adjustments to the child protection framework in some Australian states.
The adjustments are the result of recommendations from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. One of the recommendations is the introduction of reportable conduct schemes similar to the one that has existed in New South Wales since 2000. Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have now introduced these schemes and NSW has widened its scheme to include religious bodies and, as such, the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
These reportable conduct schemes now require churches in the ACT, NSW and Victoria to respond to allegations raised about the conduct of persons they engage. This response involves notifying an external oversight agency of the allegations, investigating the allegations, making a finding and recommendations, and taking appropriate action. At the conclusion of the investigation the church is then required to notify the oversight agency of the outcome.
“It is important to note that alleged conduct could be recent or historical and can involve children in any context not just in a church,” Adsafe project manager Murray Chapman said.
“It should be remembered that despite these recent adjustments it has been Seventh-day Adventist Church policy for some years now that child-related alleged conduct by employees and volunteers in the Church be investigated.”
Other adjustments include adding persons in religious ministry to the list of mandatory reporters. This includes church ministers as well as volunteers providing services to children such as elders, deacons and Sabbath school leaders. Mandatory reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse to government authorities.
For more state-specific information view the Practice Updates on the Adsafe website: adsafe.org.au/safeguarding/policies.