Safe Ministry Map – Chapter 3

REPORTING ABUSE

 

3.1 Reporting child abuse

Anyone who suspects, on reasonable grounds, that a child or young person is at risk of neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse should report it to the relevant authorities.

Any child abuse that a minister or leader becomes aware of must be reported to the relevant authorities. A person may become aware of abuse because they have observed indicators of abuse, another person has informed them of their concerns for a child or a child has told them they are being abused.

Under NSW law, a paid church worker has a legal obligation to report, as soon as practicable, to Family and Community Services the name of a child if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the child is at risk of significant harm.

A child or young person is “at risk of significant harm” if current concerns exist for the safety, welfare or well-being of the child or young person because of the presence, to a significant extent, of any one or more of the following circumstances:

(a) the child’s or young person’s basic physical or psychological needs are not being met or are at risk of not being met,

(b) the parents or other caregivers have not arranged and are unable or unwilling to arrange for the child or young person to receive necessary medical care,

(b1) in the case of a child or young person who is required to attend school in accordance with the Education Act 1990—the parents or other caregivers have not arranged and are unable or unwilling to arrange for the child or young person to receive an education in accordance with that Act,

(c) the child or young person has been, or is at risk of being, physically or sexually abused or ill-treated,

(d) the child or young person is living in a household where there have been incidents of domestic violence and, as a consequence, the child or young person is at risk of serious physical or psychological harm,

(e) a parent or other caregiver has behaved in such a way towards the child or young person that the child or young person has suffered or is at risk of suffering serious psychological harm,

(f) the child was the subject of a pre-natal report and the birth mother of the child did not engage successfully with support services to eliminate, or minimise to the lowest level reasonably practical, the risk factors that gave rise to the report.

Note. Physical or sexual abuse may include an assault and can exist despite the fact that consent has been given.

If a child discloses abuse to someone, that person should:

  • listen to their story,
  • comfort the child if they are distressed,
  • let the child know they’re glad they told them and that they did the right thing, and
  • let the child know they are going to get help about what to do next and will get back to them.

Bear in mind that what may seem incredible could be true. Offenders may be cunning, secret and not immediately or obviously identifiable.

As soon as possible after the disclosure, the person to whom the disclosure was made must:

a. write down the details of what was said, and

b. report the information to the appropriate authorities.

a. WRITE DOWN the details of what was said including such details as:

who made the disclosure,
date, time and place,
what was said by the person to whom the disclosure was made,
what the child said, and
any grounds for forming the belief that abuse has occurred.

The person to whom the disclosure was made should keep to the facts about what was said and refrain from expressing their opinion. This document must be signed and dated and could be subpoenaed in court proceedings.

There is a sample reporting form available at www.safeministry.org.au.

 b. REPORT the information to the appropriate authorities

REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE AND DISCLOSURES

Issue or concern Report to:
General Suspicions · Head ministry leader
Child or young person currently at risk of significant harm · FaCS

If possible discuss with the head ministry leader or senior minister* first and use the Mandatory Reporters Guide.

· Police

Contact the police first if the situation requires emergency assistance.

· Professional Standards Unit

Contact the PSU where the alleged perpetrator is a church worker.

Knowledge of relevant criminal offences · Police

· Professional Standards Unit (regarding a church worker)

Child abuse by a church worker** · Senior minister*/church worker’s employer

· Anglican Abuse Report line (1800 77 49 45)

· Police

Contact the Professional Standards Unit if you are unsure of what to do in any circumstance or

where an allegation is regarding the senior minister


** A church worker includes a minister, any ministry volunteer or leader (eg, Sunday School teacher, youth group leader, organist, etc), warden, parish councillor, parish Synod representative.
* Do not report to the senior minister if the allegation is regarding the senior minister

The person to whom a disclosure is made should not undertake an investigation, and should not disclose the allegations to the alleged offender at this initial stage.