Duty of Care Policy
It is the policy and practice of The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (S.A.) (Uniting Church SA) that "all persons who have a responsibility through their role within the Church (whether paid or voluntary) and/or have the potential to have one to one contact with children, youth and vulnerable people" undergo a Screening and Authority Request. An integral part of this process is completing a Screening and Authority Request which includes a national criminal history check.
The Duty of Care policy requires that before appointing a person to a position of leadership, church councils must adopt a policy of screening and approving applicants for all leadership positions regardless of whether or not it is a paid or voluntary appointment. This will involve:
- applying the six month rule. (i.e. not appointing persons to voluntary leadership roles if they have worshipped at your church for less than six months);
- arranging for a National Police History Check - Informed Consent (1.6 mb PDF) to be conducted through the Presbytery and Synod Office;
- interviewing applicants;
- requesting and checking references.
It is important that leaders who care for children and young people are appropriately selected and adequately trained to work with the age groups for which they have responsibility.
A resource kit entitled 'Called to Care' has been produced, outlining the church's legal and moral responsibilities when caring for people, particularly children and young people.
What is Duty of Care? (excerpt from 'Called to Care')
"Duty of care" is a responsibility to ensure safety for those in our care. Duty of care involves anticipating and avoiding foreseeable harm or minimising harm when it occurs.
For example, duty of care can involve identifying risks, being careful and knowing what to do when someone has been harmed. There can be both a legal and moral duty of care. A moral duty of care may exist even if there is not legal duty of care. As Disciples of Christ, the members of a church community are called to a level of care for all people and especially children and young people regardless of legal duty.
Who does this apply to?
Even if your church does not currently have children and young people active in your congregation, it is still important to fulfil the requirements and be aware of the issues. We are all children of God and hence we are all deserving of the best duty of care we can provide.
Freedom and responsibility (excerpt from 'Called to Care')
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs." Matthew 19:14 NRSV
We, as the Uniting Church SA, are committed to providing safe places where people are cared for, nurtured and sustained. Uniting Church SA commits itself to the care, protection and safety of all children, young people and people of all ages relating with it or its agencies.
We seek to provide a safe environment for all people to encounter God, to develop relationships as part of a community and to grow in faith.
We believe that
- Each person is precious to God
- In following His example we are called to care for all people
- It was and is a priority for Jesus to care especially for those who are vulnerable
Because of what we believe we commit to being a community that
- Provides and maintains welcoming and safe environments
- Offers suitable and well equipped leadership
- Provides a level of resourcing that reflects the value of children and young people
- Provides clear and appropriate processes for specific duty of care needs
- Is known for the way we respect and care for each other.