Child Safe Statement by Bendigo Baptist Church Council 

The concept of under-18’s being an important part of the Christian community began when Jesus said, “Let the Children come to me” and “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matt 18:5) He acknowledged that children were to be at the very centre of the church community.

• Children are valued partners with adults in the life of the church, for they represent the ongoing nature of the church. 
• Christian Worship is for both children and adults. 
• The call to evangelism comes to all of God’s people, regardless of age. 
• The Church helps with the discovery and development of gifts in children.
• The concept of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ includes children.

The Bible teaches us that each church community must take responsibility, along with the family, in nurturing children in life and faith. God’s ongoing care and concern is demonstrated in the Bible, and we are called to follow its leading and teaching. In Deuteronomy 11:18-19 the ministry of teaching children is a command given to the Israelites and in Mark 10:13-16 Jesus gave us His example in welcoming and loving children. 
The Bendigo Baptist Church, along with Baptist all over Australia, is “committed to promoting the welfare of children participating in any of their ministries or activities by protecting their rights and also protecting them from harm.” An Australia Baptist Response to Working with Children and Youth. 2018

Bendigo Baptist Church is committed to promoting and protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, by providing a child safe environment where children and young people are safe and feel safe, and their voices are heard about decisions that affect their lives.

Our primary contact with children and young people is through our church services and Children and Youth ministries. Bendigo Baptist Church recognises those aged under 18 (children and young people) are in scope for the purposes of this Child Safety statement, although we are committed to promoting and protecting the safety and wellbeing of everyone who seeks to call BBC their church community. 

We have a zero tolerance for child abuse in any form and have systems to protect children and young people from abuse. We take all allegations very seriously and respond to them consistently in line with our policies and procedures, report all instances of suspected child abuse, and contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety.

We value and support each person in relation to diversity, inclusion, and equality. We believe all people are made in the image of God and have equal worth and value.
Every person working or involved with Bendigo Baptist Church has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role they play, individually and collectively, to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all children and young people. Our Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy aligns with the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People Child Safe Standards 2022.
Policy Statement

This Bendigo Baptist Church Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy is written to demonstrate the strong commitment the BBC Council, staff and volunteers have to child safety and wellbeing, and to provide an outline of the policies and practices we have in place to keep everyone safe from any harm, including abuse.
This policy was developed in collaboration with staff, volunteers and the children who use our services and their parents/carers/guardians and the church community. It applies to all staff, volunteers, children and individuals involved in our church community.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is 
1. To facilitate the prevention of child abuse from occurring within BBC.
2. To work towards an organisational culture of child safety and wellbeing.
3. To ensure that everyone who calls BBC their church community is aware of their responsibilities for identifying possible occasions for child abuse and for establishing controls and procedures for preventing such abuse and/or detecting such abuse when it occurs.
4. To provide guidance and ongoing training to staff/volunteers/contractors as to action that should be taken where they suspect any abuse within or outside of the organisation.
5. To provide a clear statement to staff/volunteers/contractors forbidding any such abuse.
6. To provide assurance that any, and all, suspected abuse will be reported and fully investigated according to State Law.

Commitment to Child Safety and Wellbeing

The welfare of the children and young people in our care will always be our first priority. We are committed to providing a child safe and child friendly environment where children and young people feel safe and have fun.All children and young people who come to Bendigo Baptist Church have a right to be informed about all of their rights, including safety, information and participation.

Children’s rights to safety and participation

Bendigo Baptist Church staff and volunteers encourage children and young people:
- To express their views. We listen to their suggestions, especially on matters that directly affect them, as we believe that a community that empowers & listens to them will help them feel safe enough to raise concerns.
- To ‘have a say’ about things that are important to them. Policies and practices that are shaped by children’s views can better prevent harm to children and young people.
Just like adults, all children and young people have rights. Rights are basic entitlements that belong to each person, regardless of any differences. 

Bendigo Baptist Church staff and volunteers:
– Always uphold and respect children and young people’s rights
– Take a proactive role in educating them about their rights
– Support them to exercise their rights. 

We teach children and young people about what they can do if they feel unsafe. We listen to and act on any concerns children and young people, and their parents and guardians raise with us. 
Empowerment means building up children and strengthening their confidence in themselves and in the church community. It involves equipping children and young people with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and enabling them to increase control of their lives.

Valuing diversity

We value diversity and do not tolerate any discriminatory practices. To achieve this, we pay attention to the needs of ALL children and young people including, but not limited to those: 

– With a disability – We do not stereotype or make assumptions about a child’s abilities, but rather recognise that each child is different and unique and experiences disability and the world differently.

– From culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds – we take steps to understand language and cultural needs and take diverse family structures and norms into account.

– Who are unable to live at home – there are many reasons why children may not be able to live at home. Their living arrangements can be varied, but we ensure we are welcome all children regardless of their circumstances.

– Who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, gender diverse and non-binary children and young people (LGTBQIA+) – we welcome and value all children and young people and make it clear that we will take steps to protect anyone from abuse and harm.

– Of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander descent – we acknowledge and appreciate the strengths of Aboriginal culture and understand its importance to the wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal children and young people and ensure we take steps to uphold the right of children to enjoy and feel connected to their culture and community,

Recruiting staff and volunteers

Recruitment, including advertising, referee checks and staff and volunteer pre-employmentscreening, emphasise child safety and wellbeing. Bendigo Baptist Church applies these best practice standards when engaging staff and volunteers. 
We interview and conduct referee checks on all staff and volunteers and require police checks and Working with Children Checks for relevant positions. Our commitment to Child Safety and our screening requirements are included in all advertisements. All staff and volunteers must sign the Code of Conduct before commencing in their roles and re-sign it annually.

Supporting staff and volunteers

Staff and volunteers are trained and supported to effectively implement BBC’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy. Staff and volunteers receive regular training and information to recognise indicators of child harm including harm caused by other children and young people. Staff and volunteers receive training and information to respond effectively to issues of child safety and wellbeing and support colleagues who disclose harm. Staff and volunteers receive training and information on how to build culturally safe environments for children and young people.

Reporting a child safety concern or complaint 

Bendigo Baptist Church has appointed a Child Safety Person with the specific responsibility for responding to any complaints made by staff, volunteers, parents/guardians or children and young people. A child-focused complaint handling process ensures we have a positive complaints culture. Bendigo Baptist Church encourages and welcomes the reporting of concerns, responds to complaints promptly, thoroughly, and fairly, and takes immediate action to protect children and young people at risk.

Risk Management

We recognise the importance of a risk management approach to minimising the potential for child abuse or harm to occur and use this to inform our policy, procedures and activity planning. In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children and young people. Staff and volunteers identify and mitigate risks in the online and physical environments posed by campus & offsite locational settings, ministry activities and the physical environment without compromising a child’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities. The online environment is used in accordance with Bendigo Baptist Church’s Code of Conduct and Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and practices.

Privacy

All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. Bendigo Baptist Church will protect any personal information that is collected in relation to child safe reporting. (See the Privacy Policy)

Reviewing this policy

Every year, and following every reportable incident, a review is conducted to assess whether the Bendigo Baptist Church child protection policies or procedures require modification to better protect the children under its care. Child Safety and Wellbeing forms part of the AGM report.  

Definitions

Bendigo Baptist Church (BBC) – refers to Junortoun Campus, Eaglehawk campus and all approved ministries that occur both on and off campus site/s locations.