This Working Group is reviewing safety policies and procedures across Australia Yearly Meeting and Regional Meetings and making recommendations for changes and improvements.
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Child Protection and Other Safety Concerns Working Group
To review safety policies and procedures across Australia Yearly Meeting and regional meetings, using a broad and holistic definition of ‘safety’. This review should be informed by our concern for the spiritual welfare of our community, our duty of care, and relevant regulatory and legal requirements
*Please see below, Update, July 2022.
Terms of Reference
We seek to create and support an inclusive and safe physical, spiritual and emotional environment for our whole Quaker community. The sobering outcomes of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and the process of joining the National Redress Scheme alerted Friends to the importance of policies which support a safe environment for children and the effective implementation of these policies. There are increasing requirements for faith communities to meet regulatory and insurance requirements in the broad area of safety including Occupational Health and Safety. Friends undertake roles associated with these safety requirements, largely on a voluntary basis and may find them difficult or unduly onerous.
AYM has a Safe Quaker Community Policy and an AYM Committee which oversees this policy and supports the Safe Quaker Community Friends in each Regional Meeting. We also have Child Protection Policy and Procedures and a Child Protection Committee which oversees this policy and seeks to support the Child Protection Contact Friends in Regional Meetings. During this review, it is anticipated that these Committees and Contact Friends will continue their roles as outlined in the current policies and will be consulted during the review.
- Approval of Working Group: SC10.20.5
- Members of working group appointed: SC12.20
- Term end date: YM22
Format of Working Group
This will be an expert rather than a representative group. A small, focused group is envisaged. Members are to be appointed as per Minute YM20.30, noting that the working group may co-opt Friends with specific areas of expertise for specific elements of the review, which is wide ranging.
Period of service
There will be an interim report to Regional Meetings, then Standing Committee in March 2021, final report to Regional Meetings, then YM2021 through Documents in Advance. It is expected that this Working Group will make recommendations about what further work is required and about whether this Working Group can be laid down at YM2021.
NOTE: It was agreed at YM21 that one member will lay down her membership of the Working Group after July 2021 but has agreed to be available in an advisory role. The two remaining members will continue the work of the Working Group and report to Standing Committee in January 2022 on progress and issues still to be resolved.
UPDATE re: outcomes:
YM accepts this amended Incident Report Form and ask that it now be used by all Friends as appropriate. (Minute YM22.12)
YM accepts the draft Code of Conduct and draft Community Agreement for Online Events for circulation to, and use by AYM and Regional Meetings and for sharing, in all their meetings. Further feedback on wording of these documents can be forwarded to Ronis Chapman and Jonathan Benyei. We note that use of the draft Community Agreement for Online Events is not mandated but all Friends are encouraged to use it. We hear that Ronis Chapman and Jonathan Benyei will meet or liaise with RM contact Friends for feedback on how these draft documents are being promulgated and used over the next year. (Minute YM22.35)
Purpose of the Working Group
- To review safety policies and procedures across AYM and regional meetings, using a broad and holistic definition of ‘safety’. This review should be informed by our concern for the spiritual welfare of our community, our duty of care, and relevant regulatory and legal requirements
- To recommend changes and improvements as found to be necessary.
Areas of focus for the Working Group
- Child protection.
- Safe Quaker community, including occupational health and safety and cyber-safety.
- Our reporting procedures as outlined in our policies and how they are implemented, including confidentiality processes in documenting, reporting, and archiving issues.
- to check compliance with contemporary legislative/regulatory requirements including occupational, health & safety
- to identify mandatory and other key obligations eg. appointment, reporting, recording, confidentiality and investigation processes across all areas of safety and how these may be streamlined and communicated clearly to Meetings and individual Friends
- to review the AYM Child Protection Policy and Procedures in the light of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, (an outcome of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse) and the Safe Quaker Community Policy
- to recommend policies and procedures which will ensure safe conduct across electronic platforms for all age groups
- to assess consistency across the policies and explore opportunities for closer alignment of policies
- to explore the need for a Code of Conduct for Quaker staff and volunteers
- to identify appropriate training and support needs
- to identify suitable implementation strategies for any changes recommended
This group has a very broad remit within a tight time frame and thus may wish to identify priorities. There may be value in facilitating an organisational self-assessment using an existing self-audit tool or an independent professional audit (at additional cost), or a combination of both. There are a number of organisations who offer consultation services on developing safety policies and procedures for churches and self-audit tools in child protection. It may also be helpful to liaise with other similar denominations on their church safety policies and seek advice if necessary.
The input of Friends, including children and young people, will be important in order to hear their experiences of understanding and implementing current policies and their suggestions for improvements.
It is anticipated that the working group will require a budget to undertake its work. Relevant documents:
- Child Protection Policy & Procedures of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Aust. Inc.
- The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) of Australia Yearly Meeting Safe Quaker Community Policy
The following draft documents can be found below:
- Draft Code of Conduct, v4 July2021
- Draft Confidential archives guidelines, June 2021
- Draft AYM eSafety Guidelines (Draft amended 30 June21)
- Draft Incident report form
- Draft Safety Policies overview
Membership of the Working Group
Jonathan Benyei, Ronis Chapman (Jennifer Burrell, stepped down at YM21 but remaining in advisory role)