We are affiliated with the Churches of Christ Victoria and Tasmania (CCVT). Our Elders and Pastor are responsible for the church's oversight and spiritual life and are assisted by Deacons. Together they form the Church Board that develops the ministry and mission of the church.
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Ernie has a key role in coordinating the work that needs to be done to maintain the property.
Carys fulfils the role of treasurer and keeps the board up to date with the financial situation of the church. Carys is also part of our pastoral care team.
Adam leads in the area of music, working with our musicians and singers, and convenes many of our worship services.
Joslyn is part of our pastoral care team, produces our board minutes, assists with the leadership of an afternoon home group, and participates in our Wednesday morning prayer gathering.
Graham assists Ernie with property matters, as well as being part of the Harrietville home group.
Child Safe Standards – Bright Church of Christ
Bright Church of Christ is committed to creating and sustaining a safe place of gathering and activity for all people of all backgrounds. This will involve how people speak to and behave with each other, how decisions are made, and how feedback is given and received. People will be welcomed to participate, share their views and express feedback, in the context of giving all others the same opportunities.
Children will be especially valued, protected and nurtured at Bright Church of Christ, in cooperation with their parents or guardians. Providing a child-safe environment will involve addressing the standards highlighted below, as well as adopting strategies to meet those same standards.
Commitment to Child Safety
Bright Church of Christ will commit to operating within a child-safe environment, in so doing, adopting the following understandings and strategies:
A child safe statement of commitment to child safety will include:
(a) strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety,
(b) strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children,
(c) definitions of abuse,
(d) strategies to promote effective leadership arrangements, together with the screening and accountability of teachers and support volunteers, and,
(e) strategies to identify, reduce and remove the risk of abuse.
Children have the right to be safe at all times. All children should be treated with the greatest care and respect. Children should be valued, welcomed, heard and taken seriously. They should never be relegated to ‘second-class’ citizens. We follow the example of Jesus, who, when other adults sought to stop children having free access to him, said, “Let the children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14).
Thus, as much as is reasonably possible, our children’s activities will be deemed inclusive according to normal age-group divisions. Discrimination based on race, physical appearance, first language, disability, family background or economic situation will not be tolerated. Also, our environment and culture should allow children to feel free to report any safety concern, discomfort or inappropriate behaviour that they may be experiencing. Special consideration will be given to those children who might lack in the required communication skills to speak about their concerns.
Bright Church of Christ will have zero tolerance for child abuse and any form of bullying, and is committed to acting in children’s best interests, while keeping them safe. Preventing bullying and child abuse (and responding to any related allegations) must be embedded in everyday organisational thinking and practice. This is everyone’s business, stepping in to protect children from any violence or abuse.
Promoting child safety is an ethical imperative that is everyone’s responsibility, and no relevant information can be held back. Any suggestion of abuse, or of a possible threat to child safety, must be reported ‘up-the-line’ of communication to the appointed “child safety officer” and pastor/elders, who will then take the necessary action under best practice and the law. We will also embrace and support the child safety efforts of other local service providers e.g. Alpine Health, in our commitment to broader community child safety.
Bullying is a form of persistent harassment which demeans, threatens, intimidates or humiliates a person. Bullying is repeated aggression and verbal, psychological and physical acts, through overt or covert behaviour by an individual or group against others, for their own gratification and demonstration of power.
The purpose is to make those who exhibit bullying behaviour feel powerful by exploiting the vulnerabilities of their targets. Bullying may result in emotional, psychological or physical abuse which may need to be reported to the appropriate authorities. In a children’s setting, bullying is most likely to be seen through name-calling, berating, jostling and physical wrestling, or in some cases, exclusion from a group.
Bullying in all its forms, including name-calling and demeaning others in any way, must be seen as completely unacceptable and dealt with immediately. Parents of children involved in bullying, need to be informed, consulted with and included in decisions relating to their child.
Defining Child Abuse:
In Victoria, a child is a person under eighteen years of age. Child abuse may be defined as any act that endangers the child’s physical or emotional health or development. Child abuse may take place in a single incident or, more usually, over time. These may be things people do to children, or things they fail to do for them. Abuse occurs when those in positions of trust and power, abuse that trust and make use of their power to harm children.
Commonly recognised forms of child abuse include:
(i) physical abuse – when a child suffers (or is likely to suffer) significant harm from an injury inflicted either intentionally or as an inadvertent consequence of physical punishment or physically aggressive treatment;
(ii) emotional abuse – when a person repeatedly rejects a child, uses threats to frighten them, or creates an environment which significantly damages a child’s physical, social, intellectual or emotional development;
(iii) sexual abuse – when a person uses power or authority over a child to involve the child in a wide range of sexual activity;
(iv) neglect – the failure to protect a child with the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical attention or supervision, to the extent that this child’s health and development is (or is likely to be) significantly harmed.
Specific strategies for Bright Church of Christ:
1.1 – This document pertaining to child safety to be presented, tabled, discussed and adopted at an official church meeting. It will appear on our website and be regularly reviewed.
1.2 – Pastors must be police-checked before appointment. Pastors, elders, all board members, and all those people with direct or support roles with children must hold a current Working with Children card. A pastor, elder or board member (known as the “child safety officer”) will be responsible for holding information regarding Working with Children cards, to ensure they are held and current by all those deemed necessary.
1.3 – The “child safety officer” will keep written records of child safety issues and responses for any incidents, report on child safety at board meetings, and also be required to report through the church’s published annual reporting that all child safe standards have been adhered to.
1.4 – All current and new leaders and support workers dealing with children to be briefed on expectations and reporting procedures. Anyone who seems to be resistant or uncomfortable with any such requirements to be relieved from their role.
1.5 – There will be at least two children’s workers at all times. Teachers and helpers will wear name tags.
1.6 – The spaces or rooms used for children’s programs will be checked and monitored so that they bring no risk of physical or emotional harm. Each room used, and the equipment within, must be clean, hygienic and safe. Entry and exit points will be closely monitored, ensuring that no unauthorised person enters, and no child leaves unsupervised. No sessions will be conducted in rooms closed to view or under lock.
1.7 – Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers will be properly maintained. Appropriate insurance will be annually renewed. It will be made clear how to evacuate in the instance of an emergency situation, and where to assemble outside of the building. Where there has been an evacuation, close attention will be given so that no child goes missing.
1.8 – The written materials and spoken lessons will be checked and critiqued so that they bring no risk of mental or spiritual harm, thus providing a safe learning environment. Children will also be given opportunity to give feedback on their experiences with the activities.
1.9 – We, as a church, will seek to be informed of latest best practice through the information and training provided by other organisations, and our denomination.
1.10 – Any incidence of withdrawal, abnormal behaviour or distress within, prior to, or following activities, will be investigated by the “child safety officer” and/or pastor. Any possible untoward incident will not be ignored.
1.11 – A contextually appropriate ‘sign in/sign out’ system will be developed, trialled and improved, to ensure that every child leaves under the supervision of the responsible parent or parentally delegated responsible person. Upon arrival, or at the beginning of children’s activities, visiting families will be required to make known to teacher and/or helper who the responsible collection person will be. ‘Sign-in/sign-out’ forms will include: name of child, name of responsible parent/guardian, best contact telephone number, additional emergency telephone contact, allergies and special needs, and space for signatures/initials. Such forms will be kept securely.
1.12 – All efforts will be made to understand and address any allergies and special needs, thus minimising the possibility of any adverse reaction.
Code of Conduct with Children
Bright Church of Christ will adopt clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children as follows:
2.1 – There will be NO corporal or physical punishment, and NO tolerance toward any instances of such.
2.2 – Any verbal correction will be given clearly with a respectful and calm tone and manner; and always aimed at encouraging learning and more helpful social behaviour, properly taking into account and seeking to understand individual personalities and cultural backgrounds. Shouting or any outburst of anger is NOT acceptable.
2.3 – Every attempt should be made to keep all children safe from any unwarranted physical or verbal attack from any other child, including rational and composed intervention where required. There will be a no tolerance attitude to bullying, fighting and sexualised play.
2.4 – There may be an occasion to separate a child from group activities for behavioural reasons, where others are being adversely impacted or becoming at risk; however, in such an instance, a child’s physical and emotional safety will remain protected. If a child shows behavioural difficulties, the program coordinator, “child safety officer” and parents/guardian should be informed.
2.5 – Any touching for the purpose of encouragement will be according to the needs of the children, not the teacher or helper; an appropriate expression of affirmation may be described as, “a non-demanding gentle touch on the shoulders, hands, arms, head or back”. There will be NO inappropriate touching in other areas of the body, NOR any kissing, NOR any sitting on laps or knees or between legs, NOR any piggy-back rides. Some circumstances may require physical contact e.g. an urgent removal from harm’s way, yet this must still done as sensitively and painlessly as possible. If a child initiates a hug, the leader should respond with a side hug (so as not to engage with the lower half of the body).
2.6 – The best practice for toileting of small children or children who need assistance is to call the parent. Where this is not possible, the child should be encouraged to manage him/herself to the fullest possible extent, according to ability. If assistance is still necessary, male leaders are not to assist in the toileting of girls, and female leaders are not to assist the toileting of boys. Any closed door toileting assistance must only be given by a parent/guardian. Toilets must be checked to be empty and clear of hazards before each use.
2.7 – Wherever possible, any necessary medical first aid will be given by a parent, or if this is not possible, by someone who is qualified and has a current Working with Children card. A compliant first aid kit will be readily available. Where necessary, emergency services e.g. ambulance (phone 000) should be called and a parent/guardian notified immediately. A record should be kept in writing concerning any medical incident and the action that was taken.
2.8 – Intentional contact made for whatever purpose out of program hours (e.g. for invitation, reminder or home visit), will be done so through the parents/guardian and only with their permission.
2.9 – No extra activities will be conducted without first informing parents/guardian.
2.10 – Any food will be handled appropriately, while prepared, served and stored in clean and hygienic environments. All potential allergies will be taken into account when serving food.
2.11 – Any breaches or concerns with this code of conduct or the implementation of any child safety strategies, to be immediately reported to the “child safety officer” or an elder/pastor.
Reporting Child Abuse
Children do NOT generally have the power to stop abuse; they rely on others to help them. Members and leaders of church communities have a moral responsibility (even in the absence of a legal duty) to notify the appropriate agency if they suspect a child is being abused. This includes cases of physical abuse, non-accidental or unexplained injury, family violence, emotional abuse or ill-treatment, persistent neglect or lack of appropriate supervision or abandonment, self-harm, and any disclosure of sexual abuse by a child or witness.
Where a child speaks of abuse they should be believed and what they report accepted. They should not be pressed for further information. They should be reassured that they were right to speak up and that what they have said will be taken seriously. It is important that the child is not required to repeat their disclosure – interviewing the child is best left to trained people who are skilled in the process. A child should be informed what will happen next and why. As soon as possible afterwards, handwritten notes should be made of exactly what the child said and the date and time of disclosure.
Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse:
3.1 – Those working with children should be alert for any physical or behavioural signs of abuse or neglect, or if a child discloses that they have been abused, with a view to taking appropriate early action. Physical signs could include: bruises, burns, fractures or injuries, frequent hunger, poor hygiene, tiredness or difficulty sleeping, appearing ill cared for or unhappy, ongoing health problems, speech disorders, difficulty or pain in urinating or defecating, or development delays. Behavioural signs could include: low self-esteem, being tearful, difficulty relating socially, wearing long sleeves and trousers in hot weather, being either aggressive or withdrawn, being highly anxious or showing little emotion, mood swings, wariness of parents, drug misuse, age-inappropriate sexual behaviour, stealing, or being indiscriminate with affection. Other factors may be: a new partner in the home, unsupervised contact with unknown person, substance abuse, psychiatric illness, or intellectual disability.
3.2 – If any child is in immediate danger, the police should be called (000).
3.3 – Any incident or accusation of abuse must be reported WITHOUT DELAY to the “child safety officer”, and also the pastor (or an elder). This will then be taken to the appropriate authorities i.e. Police (000), or DHHS Child Protection (Hume region 1800 650 227), or Child First (Alpine region 1800 705 211), or After Hours Child Protection Emergency Services (131 278). For further information: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/582591/flowchart-mandatory-reporting-27-5-10.pdf.
3.4 – In such a case of an incident or accusation, no one should act alone, nor start their own investigation. Parents or carers will be contacted as appropriate. NB. If the alleged perpetrator is in church leadership, this person should be bypassed. If the alleged perpetrator is in church leadership, a report will also need to be made to the Executive Officer of Churches of Christ Victoria & Tasmania (CCVT).
3.5 – Any alleged perpetrator will be stood aside from any role in the children’s program while situation is investigated.
3.6 – Any child safety concerns, or signs of a child at risk, must be reported to “child safety officer”, pastor or elder.
3.7 – No child will be blamed or unduly interrogated concerning any report of abuse.
3.8 – All allegations of abuse and any safety concerns will be appropriately recorded in writing, and stored securely to protect privacy.
3.9 – Appropriate support will be offered to any victim, family member, witnesses, volunteers or anyone involved in the reporting of abuse (or child safety concerns). This will include, as much as possible, information on how the reporting process works. Attention will be given to any counselling that may be required for any affected person.
3.10 – The appropriateness and effectiveness of all responses and procedures will be reviewed following any incident to help drive continuous improvement.