At the school attended by the children of a friend chaplaincy is provided by a ‘Christian’ organisation. They hold a free breakfast for children from time to time.
But, what a breakfast! At the most recent one there were children who would not participate because of the unpleasantness of the woman worker to them; and worse, my friend’s child found the manner of the chaplaincy worker at the breakfast so intimidating that she was in tears! The child was berated for wanting butter as well as honey on the bread that she was handed!
The principal received a complaint regarding this conduct, of course, and, pulling no punches, the organisation is "Reach", an organisation with unknown connections, but held out as 'Christian'.
The principal is not a Christian, and has perhaps less insight into the varieties of organisations that would use the label ‘Christian’. So here are some tips for any non-Christians who are approached by a ‘Christian’ or church related organisation to offer services to children.
1. Anyone can call themselves ‘Christian’ and mean almost anything by it.
2. If an organisation tells you that it is Christian here are a few questions to ask them:
- Which church or denomination are you affiliated with? If they say they are independent, then apply the question to the board of directors, the CEO and the senior executives. Accept no evasion. Note that some organisations call themselves a church, when they are a controlling cult: in my view this would include Scientology, the Hare Krishna movement, the Exclusive Brethren, some Yoga groups, The School of Philosophy. Then, check out the organisation.
- Has your organisation or related organisation been before the Royal Commission related to abuse of children, and if so what is it now doing about it?
- What is your organisation’s mission and how would this service you seek to provide achieve the mission? [Ask to see a published mission statement, and don’t accept a brief piece of unqualified pop-business rhetoric.]
- How do you recruit front line workers? [open recruitment/within denomination/within church/just people we know, agency—which one?]
- What training do they have to have? [If they mention a training organisation that you are not familiar with ask if it is an RTO: registered training organisation. If it is only theological type training, be suspicious and note, anyone can cook up a fancy name.]
- Do all staff in contact with children have a working with children check? [If not, no go; if so, ask to see evidence.]
- Have all staff completed a ‘safe ministry’ course (at least that’s what its called in some denominations)? [Ask to see evidence.]
- Have they received training in providing services to children [My soccer club provides such courses for soccer coaches…so churches should do at least.]
- Ask to see their complaints policy and complaint management plan. What happens if a complaint is unresolved? Get the contact details of a senior exec. responsible for the service you are receiving.
- How do they discharge their WHS obligations when their front line staff are working remotely, such as in a school?
- What is their induction process for staff to a school or site?
- How do they ensure the needs of individual children are met?