More than 1100 ministry workers from across the Diocese have heard a former police officer present the latest research and prevention measures for child safety at the triennial Faithfulness in Ministry conference in June.
The day-long event, mandatory for licensed clergy and authorised lay ministers, was held at several centres – including MBM Rooty Hill, Carlingford, Figtree, Castle Hill and Hoxton Park – to allow all ministry staff to attend.
Speakers included Archbishop Raffel, Youthworks CEO the Rev Canon Craig Roberts, SALT Community Church pastor Dave McDonald and former Western Australia Police officer Andrea Musulin.
Mrs Musulin, who previously spoke at the 2017 Faithfulness in Ministry conference, is now director of the WA Child Protection Society and inaugural CEO of Protective Behaviours WA.
“The address she gave six years ago was on domestic violence and a lot of work has been done on that locally since that time,” the Director of Safe Ministry, Lachlan Bryant, told Southern Cross.
“This year, we were focusing on two Royal Commission recommendations and, as Mrs Musulin is one of the leaders in the field on the protective behaviours issue, we wanted to draw from that expertise and hear how protective behaviours for children in a faith-based context can really help keep children safe and prevent abuse.”
The recommendations from the Royal Commission were about pastoral supervision and empowering children to protect themselves.
Recommendation 16.40 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse states that “wherever a religious institution has children in its care, those children should be provided with age-appropriate prevention education that aims to increase their knowledge of child sexual abuse and build practical skills to assist in strengthening self-protective skills and strategies”.
Said Mr Bryant: “For her to address the key leaders in our parishes on this topic is very helpful as we grapple with how to implement that in our circumstances. We certainly got a lot of interest from those in the room.
“There's more work to be done on it but we feel better equipped now, having heard insights from her, to tackle these things in our own context. Also, conversations with Craig Roberts from Youthworks have paved the way for us to collaborate further so that we can have some things in place for our parishes.
“The other Royal Commission recommendation that was considered was pastoral supervision and the implementation of that for the Diocese. Overall, we received a lot of feedback and we consider that it was a very successful conference.”
The next Faithfulness in Ministry conference is due in 2026.