The University of Divinity developed the Strategic Goal Responding to the Royal Commission in 2018 after the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
This is now one of four University-wide Goals in the University of Divinity’s Strategic Plan 2025:
- Indigenous Theologies
- Gender and Theology
- Changing Culture: Responding to the Royal Commission
- Climate Change and Sustainability
The University Council formally adopted this Strategic Goal in December 2018, making this statement:
The University of Divinity acknowledges the hurt and suffering of victims and survivors of abuse, and their families; the failure of the churches to protect, believe and respond justly to them; and the consequent breach of community trust.
The University commits itself to preparing its graduates to have the skills, confidence and knowledge to serve effectively and safely, especially with the young or vulnerable.
In 2019 the University employed a Project Officer over three years to progress the Responding to the Royal Commission Goal. Work on this project includes:
Code of Conduct and Safeguarding Policy
The Code of Conduct and its accompanying Policies, including the Safeguarding Policy, apply to all members of the University “while on University or College premises, using University or College facilities and services, or engaging in University or College activities related to their duties or responsibilities as a member of the University of Divinity.”
The University’s Safeguarding Coordinator supports and advises Safeguarding officers in each College.
National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
The Council of the University of Divinity has formally adopted the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.
These Principles directly reflect and give effect to the child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission and provide a nationally consistent approach to cultivating organisational cultures and practices that foster child safety and wellbeing across all sectors in Australia.
The Principles together with supporting resources have been developed by the National Office for Child Safety, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is supporting the Royal Commission Recommendations. Online learning modules are provided free at the Child Safe Organisations website including some in a range of other languages. National Principles and other resources are downloadable here.
Responding to Royal Commission recommendation 16.45, the University has developed two new awards: Graduate Certificate in Professional Supervision and Graduate Diploma in Professional Supervision. Since 2021, these awards are available through the University’s Professional Supervision program.
The awards offer knowledge and training for women and men who wish to become Professional Supervisors. Professional Supervisors increasingly work in the helping professions in a wide range of areas: ministry, chaplaincy, health, education, leadership, inter-cultural contexts.
Recommendation 16.45 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, states “Each religious institution should ensure that all people in religious or pastoral ministry, including religious leaders, have professional supervision with a trained professional or pastoral supervisor who has a degree of independence from the institution within which the person is in ministry.”
The Professional Supervision Program also offers professional development and research opportunities.
Field Education – STFE Framework
Responding to Royal Commission Recommendation 16.43, the University developed and adopted a Supervised Theological Field Education STFE Framework. This is a standard, best practice approach to those units offered by the University where ministry students learn and develop their skills through a field placement. This includes each student completing a Code of Conduct and Safeguarding Module.
The Responding to the Royal Commission Strategic Goal was renamed in 202O to broaden its remit, Changing Culture: Responding to the Royal Commission. This reflects two vital insights:
- the Royal Commission Final Report emphasises that institutions and individuals need to examine and improve the culture in which they work and minister;
- The University of Divinity as an educator of those in ministry and leadership, with an organisational structure that encompasses eight Christian denominations, is well-placed to lead and initiate change in behavioural and operational culture.
Areas where change can be enacted that are noted in the Royal Commission Final Report include transparency, accountability, effective governance, balanced and responsible leadership, inclusion of women in consultation and decision-making, improved ministry selection and training, implementation of ministry supervision programs, implementation of programs of skills maintenance and ongoing training for ministry practitioners, addressing clericalism, understanding power and fairness, and best practice in safeguarding of children and those who are vulnerable.
- eBook of conference papers of the University’s sponsored conference Health and Integrity in Church and Ministry (2018)
- The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to the Child Sexual Abuse homepage
- The Final Report of the Royal Commission (December 2017)