Persons of Concern

The Uniting Church continues to affirm that all people are made in the image of God, and that all people are loved by God and are called to be in relationship with God and God’s people through the Church.

The Church has the privilege and an absolute responsibility to provide worshipping communities that are free from abuse and harm where any person can express their faith and explore their relationship with God. All people who attend and participate in events, activities and programs of the Church have a right to do so in a safe environment.

A person of concern (POC) is any person who has engaged in criminal sexual behaviour and /or is reasonably suspected of engaging (or seeking to engage in) harmful sexual behaviour toward another person. People who demonstrate other abusive behaviours which make other people feel unsafe and present a risk to the Church may also be included as a POC.

Our desire is to be inclusive, compassionate and respectful of all people, however the need to protect vulnerable people is paramount. This will be done by placing appropriate boundaries around the involvement of POCs in the church community by use of a Safety Agreement, where a risk assessment indicates that this is appropriate.

Please refer to the Synod of NSW and the ACT Persons of Concern Policy for detailed information about all aspects of the recognition and management of Persons of Concern.

A POC can only participate in the life of the Church community in accordance with the terms of a Safety Agreement (SA) that is established between the Synod and the POC and consented to by the Synod General Secretary. The Safety Agreement is specific to each POC and congregation and clearly outlines the conditions under which the POC may engage with the congregation and the responsibilities of each party to the agreement. A Safety Agreement is not transferable to another congregation.

The General Secretary may refuse to offer a Safety Agreement to a POC in some circumstances as per the POC Policy.

If a Safety Agreement is breached or becomes unmanageable due to changes in risk or circumstances, it will be rescinded at the discretion of the General Secretary.

Monitors are appointed to ensure the conditions of the Safety Agreement are fulfilled. They have a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of the Safety Agreement. The Church Council must ensure that monitors are appropriate people within the life of the Congregation. In addition to being trained, they must also have read and signed a Monitor Agreement. Ministers, Church Council and the Presbytery representative all play a role in management and support of the POC and for maintaining and overseeing the arrangement.

Safety Agreements will be kept confidential to those who need to know and reviewed regularly (usually every six months). These review reports must be submitted to the Safe Church Unit by the Church Council.

All persons involved in the management of a Safety Agreement must undergo Safe Church Awareness training and specific monitor training and have current background screening checks (WWCC/WWVP).

Screening and Background Checks

The Synod Safe Church Unit must be notified when:

  • you become aware or suspect that a person of concern is engaged with a congregation or entity of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACT
  • you are a person of concern who seeks to engage with a congregation, group or entity

Notification may be by submitting a notification form or emailing AssociateSecretary@nswact.uca.org.au or calling 8267 4300

If appropriate, also notify the minister or other person in charge.

NOTE: If the reason for your concern involves an immediate risk to the welfare of a child, then call the police on 000 or make a report as a Mandatory or Mandated Reporter. If the person of concern is a minister, employee or volunteer of a Uniting Church congregation or agency, then your concern may be the subject of a Reportable Conduct complaint which must also be reported

safechurch@nswact.uca.org.au

Uniting Church in Australia
PO Box A2178, Sydney South NSW 1235
(02) 8267 4351