The safety of children in parish life is important to us. This page sets out important information about our commitment to child safety and the arrangements we have in place to support that commitment:
- our Statement of Commitment to Child Safety
- our desire to have children participating appropriately, actively and confidently in parish life
- a Child Safe Code of Conduct to guide our clergy and others who work with children
- our policies and procedures
- our Child Safety Contact Person
- how to make a complaint about a child safety issue
Our parish is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children.
For the children who belong to or visit our parish, we will provide a child safe environment. This means that we will act to ensure that children feel safe, are safe, and can participate appropriately, actively, and confidently in the divine services and in the broader life of our parish.
We have zero tolerance for any form of harm to or abuse of children. This includes emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.
Although our parish follows the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, it is multi-cultural and brings together families and individuals of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and needs. We value both our unity and our diversity and are committed to words and actions that make this clear to our children and the children who visit us.
We have publicly available policies and procedures in place to support these commitments, and we will provide our clergy, office-bearers, and volunteers with the necessary information, training, and other resources to ensure that they are met.
We take allegations and safety concerns seriously and will deal with them promptly and respectfully. They will be handled in accordance with our policies and procedures and, whenever necessary, New South Wales and other applicable Australian law.
We will engage sensitively with survivors of abuse and actively seek their input into our policies, procedures, and training. We will particularly draw on the experience of survivors of abuse in our own Russian Orthodox community here in in Australia.
All who belong to or visit our parish will be advised of our commitment to child safety and of their role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children while here.
This Statement of Commitment to Child Safety and the paragraphs below concerning children's participation in the life of our parish were unanimously endorsed at the Annual General Meeting of our parish members held on Sunday 18 September 2022.
Our Russian Orthodox tradition is rich and multi-faceted. In the life of our parish, we preserve rites and customs developed over many centuries and in significantly different cultural settings. We value these things, the living expression of our Orthodox Christian faith, as a precious inheritance that we, in turn, hope to pass to our children and to their children.
To make this possible, we want our children to participate appropriately, actively, and confidently in the divine services and in the broader life of our parish. To this end, we will answer their questions, listen to their views, respect what they say, and provide them with opportunities to learn, read, sing, serve, and help.
Our parish has a Child Safe Code of Conduct setting out the standards that apply to the interactions in parish life of our clergy, office-bearers, and volunteers with children.
To give effect to the parish commitment to child safety, those working with children undertake to:
- Treat all children with warmth and respect
- Listen to children and respond to their needs
- Contact a child outside church activities only when strictly necessary in connection with those activities, and then only through a parent or guardian
- Adhere to our child safe policies and procedures and to all applicable New South Wales and Australian law
- Participate in all training and development activities deemed necessary by the diocese or the parish to make the parish a safe place for children
- Immediately report and act on any concerns or observed breaches of this Code of Conduct
- Report any concerns that a child may be at risk of harm or abuse
- Take a child seriously if they disclose harm or abuse
- Take all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse
- Respect the privacy of children and their families and only disclose information to people who have a need to know
To give effect to the parish commitment to child safety, those working with children undertake to not:
- condone or participate in illegal, unsafe, or abusive behaviour towards children, including physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, ill-treatment, neglect, or grooming
- ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions, or disclosures of child abuse
- fail to report information to police if they suspect a child has been abused
- trivialise child abuse issues
- use hurtful, discriminatory, or offensive behaviour or language with children
- persistently criticise or denigrate a child
- encourage a child to communicate with them in a private setting
- do things of a personal nature for children that they can do themselves
- show favouritism through the provision of gifts or particular attention
For priests hearing confessions and giving pastoral guidance
Our parish priest, Archpriest James Carles, understands that he is called to be “an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
To this end, in his pastoral work with people of all ages he has undertaken to:
- Build healthy and clearly defined pastoral relationships based on trust and mutual respect
- Guide them in the Orthodox Christian spiritual life with patience, kindness, empathy, and impartiality
- Take particular care to observe discretion and pastoral caution should it become necessary to discuss matters of sexual behaviour, whether in explaining church teaching or providing guidance in the context of confession
In addition, in his dealings with the faithful he has undertaken to not:
- Impose any moral or other requirements that go beyond the Holy Scriptures, the precepts of the Holy Fathers, and the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church
- Require unquestioning obedience
- Discourage access to any preventative, curative or palliative medical care or treatment recommended by health professionals, other than in circumstances when the care or treatment proposed is fundamentally incompatible with the teaching of the Orthodox Church
- Involve himself improperly in their lives
- Foster an exclusive environment in opposition to other pastors and parishes or the higher church authorities, thereby encouraging suspicion and isolation
- Use his authority to promote political views
- Attempt to improperly influence the faithful in such matters as
- A choice or field of study
- Obtaining or leaving employment
- A place of residence
- A decision to marry or the choice of a future marriage partner
- A decision to pursue the monastic life
Interaction with parish children outside parish life
Our parish and the wider Russian Orthodox community are small, and our people are bound by family and social connections that extend beyond parish life. When interacting with parish children at family and social gatherings outside parish life, our clergy, office-bearers, and volunteers must continue to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with this Child Safe Code of Conduct.
Interactions with one's own children in parish life
When interacting with their own children in the context of parish life, our clergy, office-bearers, and volunteers must conduct themselves in a manner consistent with this Child Safe Code of Conduct.
The following documents set out and support our commitment to child safety:
- Child Safe Policy and Statement of Commitment
- Child Safe Code of Conduct
- Child Safety Contact Person Role Description
- Child Safe Complaint Management Policy
- Child Safe discussion points for Parish Council meetings
In addition, we have a current risk assessment and treatment plan that considers and addresses the impact on children of the following:
- Inappropriate behaviour
- Non-compliance with civil or ecclesiastical law, or with Diocesan or parish policy
- Interpersonal conflict
- Lack of engagement with the parish
- Specific risks to child safety in faith-based organisations
- Hierarchical structures with powerful leaders and a lack of accountability
- A tendency to see abuse simply as a forgivable sin rather than a crime
- Religious teachings being used to excuse abuse
- Poor screening processes and training for leaders and volunteers
- Inadequate policies, procedures, and review mechanisms
A complaint should be made by any person who, in the course of parish life:
- witnesses unacceptable behaviour towards or around children
- receives a disclosure of abuse
- suspects harm or abuse towards a child
Complaints should be made to our Child Safety Contact Person. A complaint may be made in person, by telephone, by email, or in writing. The complaint should include:
- details of the affected child
- details of any other persons involved
- something about the nature of the unacceptable behaviour, abuse or harm
- when and where the unacceptable behaviour, abuse or harm occurred
- the need for any immediate medical care
Paper and online forms to assist with complaint lodgement are under development.
Complaints will be handled in accordance with our Child Safe Complaint Management Policy.
The government agency that has oversight of child safety in New South Wales is the Office of the Children's Guardian (OCG). Extensive information and helpful resources can be found on the OCG website here.