Every day we come into contact with people, (adults, children and young people) who are vulnerable in one way or another. As a church we are privileged to be in a position where these people trust us.
All congregations, presbyteries, organisations, and committees within the Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW, ACT, WA and Tasmania are committed to upholding the responsibilities and principles of Breaking the Silence.
Therefore, we have an obligation to respond and report appropriately when we become aware that someone has been abused, and are required to contact the Conduct Protocol Unit when a notifiable circumstance is made known.
The legal reporting requirements can differ depending upon what kind of abuse has taken place and who is involved, so the CPU can provide assistance for that all abuse is be reported to the appropriate civil authorities.
All notifiable circumstances must be reported to the CPU immediately.
Anyone may make a report to the Police or Community Services if they have reasonable grounds to believe a child is at risk of significant harm.
In the church it has been agreed that any person with a position of authority within the church, be it paid or unpaid, or any person working with children or young people in any capacity will consider themselves to be mandatory reporters, even where they may only be voluntary reporters under legislation.
In all States and Territories, regardless of whether mandatory reporting is required under legislation, any person in a position of authority within the church who knows, believes or suspects on reasonable grounds, that a child or young person is at risk of harm or has suffered abuse must make a report.
In States and Territories where mandatory reporting applies to a person because of their role within the church this report must be made to the appropriate authority. For those whose role within the church does not make them a mandatory reporter, and in those States and Territories where mandatory reporting does not apply, the report must be made within the church to the CPU.
The CPU makes appropriate notification to insurers on behalf of supervising bodies.
Protection of persons making a report:
If, in relation to a child or young person, a person makes a report in good faith to Community Services or to a person who has the power or responsibility to protect the child or young person, such as the Police, legislation in most States and Territories provides significant protection. If you have any concerns about this aspect of reporting, please contact the CPU.
Abuse is a broad term.
For the purposes of Breaking the Silence, abuse includes:
All abuse is unacceptable. In the church we aim to provide a safe environment for adults, children and young people no matter how they come into contact with us. Further, many of our leaders and employees are required under law to report any evidence of reportable conduct or risk of significant harm. Therefore it is essential that we clearly understand what it is and how to recognise it.
Risk of significant harm is a term used by Community Services for situations where a reasonable person has current concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person.
In New South Wales, this includes current concerns for any of the following reasons:
Conduct putting a child or young person at risk of significant harm may also be reportable conduct and is a notifiable circumstance.
Notifiable Circumstances are situations that the Conduct Protocol Unit must be made aware of.
The CPU must be advised of all notifiable circumstances, including:
A notifiable circumstance may identify someone who is currently or has been a member of the church, someone who is currently or has been a person in a position of authority within the church, a current or ex-employee, a current or ex-student, a current or ex-volunteer and / or a current or ex-third party.
The following situations are just some examples of notifiable circumstances:
The CPU will assist in identifying which civil authorities (including Community Services, the NSW Ombudsman, the Commission for Children and Young People etc) need to be notified in relation to each specific report.
Notification of the Police
An aggrieved person always has the right to seek lawful remedies outside the church and our internal procedure may not always be a substitute for other actions. A matter must be reported to the Police if:
To make a notification to the Conduct Protocol Unit, call Jon Flood on 02 9690 9325 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to speak with a female case manager, ask for Vera Buvcevska, or email her at email@example.com.
There is no harm in calling the CPU if you’re unsure whether a situation is considered a notifiable circumstance. We are here to help and support you, and can provide advice and guidance on what to do next.
Please note: The CPU is not an emergency hotline – if someone is in immediate danger, contact the Police on 131 444 (NSW) or 000 in an emergency.