The Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney is a network of 270 local parishes with over 1300 paid clergy and lay pastoral workers. In addition, there are approximately 15,000 unpaid volunteer child related workers. The Diocese has adopted a multifaceted approach to the issue of child protection and sexual misconduct since the mid-1990s. The structures, policies, practices and procedures now in place and being further developed are as follows:
1. Professional Standards Unit
Who are we?
The PSU consists of:
Lachlan Bryant – Director
Rosemary Angus – PA to the Director and Administrator
Belinda Burn – Chaplain
Stephen Coleman – Assistant Director
Stacie Pakula – Solicitor
Brenda Sheppard – Administrative (Safe Ministry)
Austin Irwin – Legal Assistant
Naomie Nguyen – Legal Assistant
Safe Ministry Team
Neil Atwood – Safe Ministry Parish Consultant
Kylie Williams – Safe Ministry Training Consultant
Elenne Ford – Dispute Resolution
What we do
As shown above, most of the work of the PSU falls somewhere on the continuum between prevention of abuse and response to abuse. In practice, work in one area supports and informs the other and what crosses over both of these areas is advice.
The PSU administers the complaints and discipline procedure in relation to clergy and church workers. A database of offenders and alleged offenders is maintained. It also has the overall responsibility throughout the Diocese to ensure that all parishes and other activities of the Diocese are child protection compliant. The unit undertakes screening of all clergy appointments on behalf of the Archbishop. It provides ongoing support and advice to parishes and organisations. The Chaplain ensures contact with and support of those who disclose abuse.
The PSU conducts all screening on behalf of the office of the Archbishop under the Safe Ministry to Children Ordinance 2020 for all persons seeking ordination, license or authorisation. Where there are disclosures that require attention and consideration the Director of Professional Standards provides a report to the Archbishop with recommendations.
The PSU develops, maintains and updates our safe ministry training courses for ministers and persons seeking child-related work. These courses, accessible online via the Safe Ministry Training website and periodically run in limited locations face-to-face each year, are as follows:
- Safe Ministry Essentials for those doing the training for the first time, approx. 4.5 hours.
- Safe Ministry Refresher, for those who have done Essentials and need to refresh their training, approx. 2.5 hours.
We also offer the following online courses:
- The Junior Leader’s course, an introductory safe ministry training course for leaders between 13-17 years of age, approx. 2.5 hours (for Sydney Anglican Churches only).
- The Know Domestic Abuse course, aimed to assist leaders in churches to understand how to address the issue of domestic abuse and how to compassionately care for those who are experiencing it.
We also run specific Safe Ministry Modules at Moore Theological College, Youthworks College and MT&D (Ministry Training and Development) on a range of topics throughout the year. Topics include, for example: A Pastoral Response to Child Abuse, Self-Care for Church Workers, People who abuse: Pastoral Management.
The Archbishop’s Faithfulness in Ministry seminars are organised and run triennially for all licensed clergy and lay ministers, covering a range of topics, most recently covering E-safety and bullying in 2020.
The Director of Professional Standards receives complaints about clergy and church workers under the Ministry Standards Ordinance 2017 and administers the complaints process. We have five trained Contact Persons across the Diocese who personally respond to the 1800 abuse report line and assist complainants who wish to bring complaints forward. We provide administrative support to the Professional Standards Committee (PSC), (of 5 members) which considers complaints about clergy and paid church workers.
Support to survivors and complainants
The PSU pays for counselling support, and through the PSU Chaplain offers pastoral support to survivors of abuse and those making complaints to the PSU. It is often appropriate for an apology from the Archbishop to be offered to a survivor of abuse as part of responding to what has occurred. The PSU Chaplain is primarily responsible for making and facilitating such arrangements with the Archbishop’s office.
We also administer the Diocesan Pastoral Care and Support Scheme (PCAS) to those who have experienced child abuse or sexual misconduct by a church worker. This involves an application being made by the person, an assessment of their claim and the provision of pastoral care. Professional counselling, a monetary payment and an apology from the Archbishop are often components of an offer that is made under the PCAS.
We receive and respond to applications made under the National Redress Scheme on behalf of the Sydney Anglican (National Redress Scheme) Corporation.
We organise and run an annual service for survivors of abuse, Hope and Healing on behalf of the Diocese.
Policies, advice and cooperation
We have developed the Safe Ministry Blueprint Policy documents that are aimed at informing people across all levels of leadership and church engagement of their particular safe ministry responsibilities.
We are regularly sending circulars on policy developments to Safe Ministry Representatives or other leaders in parishes on changes to the legal requirements concerning child protection.
We regularly provide advice to parishes and other organisations and churches (such as affiliated churches) about reporting obligations, proper safe ministry practices and so on.
We share information (appropriately) with other denominations and network and engage with industry leaders, peak bodies and government agencies on key issues.
Reporting and accountability structures
The Safe Ministry Board (of 12 members with vacancies), established by the Safe Ministry Board Ordinance 2001, is responsible for safe ministry training, practice and guidelines for parishes across the Diocese at the policy level. In practice the PSU acts as executive of the Safe Ministry Board in exercising these functions on a day to day basis. The Director of Professional Standards is the CEO of the Safe Ministry Board. The Chairman of the Safe Ministry Board is the Rev Dr Keith Condie. The Safe Ministry Board Ordinance 2001 is currently under review.
The Professional Standards Unit Oversight Committee (5 members) is responsible for overseeing the finances of the PSU to ensure that it is properly resourced to fulfil its functions and for receiving and dealing with any complaints about the PSU.
The Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney is committed to the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people, particularly within its own community. To ensure the safety of children and vulnerable people in our communities, the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney , in conjunction with the Anglican Church of Australia, will –
- Carefully recruit and train its clergy and church workers,
- Adopt and encourage safe ministry practices by its clergy and church workers,
- Respond promptly to each concern raised about the behaviour of its clergy and church workers,
- Offer pastoral support to any person who has suffered abuse, and
- Provide supervision of and pastoral accountability (within the context of the ministries, locations and activities of the parish) to any person (who is a member of a congregation and) who is known to have abused a child or another vulnerable person.
Note this policy is individually adopted by every parish within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney