ChildSafe to Keep Our Children Safe – Neil Milton

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Child abuse then and now

‘You might be sitting there thinking this is an old problem. But the truth is, it’s a now problem.’ Former Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald.

“This is actually happening all over the place. From sporting clubs, churches, childcare centres, youth detention, it’s everywhere.”

“I think for us if we want to impact the community and show love in the community, the best way we can do that is to be transparent in all of our policies and procedures around the way in which we care for children.”

These comments from Neil Milton – Child Safe spokesman and a business development officer.

Neil Milton

There will always be the ongoing need to keep our children safe – and that includes church. This means there will always be the need to develop leaders specifically for that purpose.

The ChildSafe National Road Show is an initiative about to get underway across Australia.

ChildSafe to cover all states and territories

The road show, run by the charity ChildSafe, is touring Australia this year with the goal of empowering organisations businesses charities and churches to improve their current child safety systems. This followed recommendations made by the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Neil Milton, one of the Road Show’s driving forces , said the tour will cover all the states and territories with the ACT the starting point.

“We really want to be an organisation that goes to the people,” Neil stated, saying they didn’t want to ask people to come to them.

“We believe the best way of ensuring children’s safety in organisations is to walk with people and that’s who we are as an organisation.”

The important issues the tour will address include the various cases heard at the institutional abuse inquiry and the follow up recommendations from the Royal Commission – many of which apply to churches.

59 recommendations targeting churches

Neil said over 8-thousand private sessions were held concerning institutional child sexual abuse where people who had been abuses shared their stories.

“There were over 25-thousand emails and letters received and over 42-thousand calls from which more than 2-thousand were referred to the authorities and the police,” Neil said.

The Royal Commission’s investigation that ran for more than five years came up with more than 160 recommendations, 59 of which were specifically targeting churches.

 

“What we’re going to be doing is actually looking at one particular area of the 17 volumes and that is the 10 national child safety standards according to the Royal Commission.”

The 10 recommendation whittles it down to ten child safety standards, those collectively being the base level for all organisations working with children.

New child safety standards

“Standard One says child safety is embedded into institutional leadership governance and culture. So what we’re going to be looking at is each of these standards, how they impact your organisation, and then provide some practical tools and steps to take,” Neil revealed with the expectation the standards can be implemented straight away.

Past history suggests some churches have not applied measures of safety to the standards these new recommendations demand.

Neil addressed the importance of the new standards by quoting a comment made by former Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald at a recent conference.

(Quote) ‘You might be sitting there thinking this is an old problem. But the truth is, it’s a now problem.’ (unquote.)

Neil said they had people who had been abused three weeks before the end of the hearings had been completed.

“This is actually happening all over the place. From sporting clubs, churches, childcare centres, youth detention, it’s everywhere.”

‘The abuse breaks my heart’

Neil Milton puts this down to a resolve the problem of child abuse has been exposed and is being dealt with. Not so.

“There’s still a level of apathy. An apathy among churches and institutions that it won’t happen here,” Neil observed.

“But from the Royal Commission with its recommendations and findings, no organisation can ever say, and even the most upstanding ones, the reality is there has been situations of abuse which absolutely breaks my heart.”

A very good reason for those working with children or who have concerns about the safety of children, to attend the Child Safe National Road Show when it comes to a nearby town.

“You could be a parent, a CEO, a pastor, a children’s leader, a youth leader, a childcare centre worker – anyone who’s working with children or young people in any capacity because these standards are going to be the base level inputted into the national principles across Australia.”

The abuser knows the child

“This is what the national office will be looking at when it comes to child safety,” Neil said before sharing some alarming statistics.

“It’s important to recognise that 95-percent of abusers are known to the abused. People would counter that by saying there are upstanding citizens in their communities and that there’s no way it could ever happen here.”

“The truth is that 95-percent happens where the abuser knows the child,” Neil confirmed.

“The reality is it’s not the older gentleman or the older woman although that does happen, but lately the amount of abuse has been inflicted by 35 to 45 year-old men.”

Neil spoke about his own awareness with accounts of abuse emerging from sporting and church communities.

“It’s not just apathy but people are not sure what to do if this occurred. There’s not the culture of leadership in the church of the organisation that says, ‘We’re going to make this the highest priority because 1. We want the community to see it, and 2. We actually really care about children and Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to Me.’”

The need to be transparent

Neil Milton said it was Jesus who set the bar much higher in a society that was shunning children.

“Jesus came to them, held them, listened to them, and was there for them.”

“I think for us if we want to impact the community and show love in the community, the best way we can do that is to be transparent in all of our policies and procedures around the way in which we care for children.”

“At the end of the day it’s actually about trust. This road show is not about how Child Safe is helping you, it’s about how society has lost trust in the church and other organisations that work with children.”

Neil said it’s trust that has to be restored if the church is to have an impact in the community.

If you would like to listen to the full audio interview click play below

Footnote:

Neil Milton – Business Development Leader
Neil has worked as a pastor of churches for 15 years, World Vision Australia and been on many fundraising boards. Neil is passionate about helping churches, businesses and other organisations to keep children safe. He is married with three beautiful children.

childsafe.org.au

Other Related Posts of Interest

Protecting Aussie Kids From Pornography – Liz Walker

The Truth About Trust – Vanessa Hall

The Word for Today

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