LCA congregations now only need to complete their Child Safety Self-Assessments and Plans once every two years instead of annually.

The General Church Board approved the change to the frequency of reporting at its August meeting, in response to feedback from congregations and districts. LCA Child Protection Project Officer Mary-Ann Carver said it was hoped that the change in reporting requirements would ‘assist congregations to meet their child-safety obligations and also help them to keep their workload manageable’.

The self-assessments and plans are part of the reporting requirements for the LCA Child Safety Standards (CSS) for Congregations. The CSS are designed to help congregations maximise the safety of children and young people. It is also envisaged that they will help the church to meet its regulatory responsibilities in response to an increasingly rigorous child safety landscape in Australia and New Zealand.

This is especially so in the wake of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

All congregations that have children participating in regular worship, prayer or children’s ministry are expected to implement the CSS.

Ms Carver said in addition to providing congregations with more time to implement their child safety plans, the extended reporting timeframe gives the church’s child protection support staff more time to raise awareness across the church about the importance of child-safe cultures and more opportunities to support congregations requiring assistance.

‘If you have already completed your Child Safety Self-Assessment and for 2022, you do not have to do this again until mid-2024’, she said. ‘Instead, you can focus on implementing your child safety plan and reviewing your progress.

‘If you have already completed your Child Safety Self-Assessment but are still developing your Child Safety Plan, once your plan is endorsed by your church council or leadership team, you will not have to undertake another Self-Assessment or develop another Child Safety Plan until mid-2024.’

A suite of resources is available on the LCA website to assist congregations as they prepare their Child Safety Self-Assessment and Child Safety Plan.

Go to the Child Safety Standards page at www.lca.org.au/governance/child-safety-standards and follow the links.

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