New independent office for child protection
Wahroonga, New South Wales
A new independent office for the protection of children and vulnerable persons is being set up by the Australian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
It is one of several initiatives the Church is undertaking in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, now into its fourth year of hearings in Australia.
Dean Banks has been appointed project manager to drive the progress and completion of the new office, which is planned to be operational by the end of the year. Once the new office is established it will replace the current Safe Place Services.
Mr Banks is also the project manager for the Church’s response to the Royal Commission. He said a combination of external reviews, Royal Commission guidelines and changing legislation highlighted the need for a more centralised model that holds authority and ensures consistent and standardised processes across the Church’s entities. It will ensure professionally trained people are engaged in responding to and managing all complaints, guarding against any conflicts of interest.
“Initially we are developing a model for Australia and New Zealand that will provide the foundation for addressing issues of abuse across the South Pacific,” he said.
Safe Place Services and the Australian Union Conference are currently working on a number of other initiatives, including the development of new training processes for ministers, a national offender register, a national redress scheme for survivors of abuse and an e-learning site for employees and volunteers to receive ongoing training in child protection.
“The Adventist Church welcomes the Royal Commission,” Mr Banks said. “It has raised awareness around our community of an issue that wasn’t previously talked about.
“Victims are being given a voice, which means that the number of people coming forward to our entity is much higher."
“It has made us take action to examine the way we have previously handled these issues and ensure that we have independent, transparent and robust processes to better support survivors in the future.”