1.1 The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to providing safe places where people are cared for, nurtured and sustained. This document is consistent with the Draft Code of Conduct for Lay Leaders prepared for the UCA Assembly.
1.2. The Code of Conduct sets out the kinds of behaviours expected from people in the life of the congregation, gives confidence to the wider community and assists the witness of the Christian community. It is an instrument to raise awareness within the church of what is expected and what kinds of behaviour it does not condone.
1.3. This Code of Conduct for Lay Leaders and Employees (Code of Conduct) outlines the behaviours expected of persons who participate in the life of Tuggeranong Uniting Church as leaders. It applies to all the congregation’s lay leaders, including but not exclusively church councillors, elders, worship leaders, leaders of committees, team / activity leaders. That is, any lay person who accepts a leadership role within the congregation; and to those holding paid positions.
1.4. Lay leaders within the congregation, should be recognised in that role through a commissioning service, to be held within the normal worshipping life of congregation. This is so that everyone, including the leader, understands that they have formally taken on a leadership role and are subject to the discipline of this Code of Conduct.
1.5. Ministers of the Word, Deacons and lay people serving in an approved Ministry of Pastor role are bound by the national Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice for Ministers of the Uniting Church in Australia.
2. Leadership within the Church
Lay leaders are called to minister out of a relationship with God by:
● joining regularly in the life and ministry of the congregation
● studying the Scriptures in private and in groups
● praying regularly in private and in fellowship with and for the people and ministry of the congregation
● treat all people of the congregation, including those engaged in congregation activities and programs, with respect, courtesy, honesty and fairness, and have proper regard for their interests, rights, safety and welfare.
● act according to the legislative requirements, policies and ethical codes that apply to their areas of leadership
● make decisions fairly, impartially and promptly, considering all available information, legislation, policies and procedures
● be aware of and careful not to abuse any social or professional power that comes with any personal attribute, or role or position held in the congregation or professionally or in the community
● show others what healthy relationships look like by modelling them
● avoid behaviours that could be experienced as bullying, emotional abuse, harassment, physical abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse or any kind of sexual misconduct
● be sensitive to the needs and vulnerability of children and young people.
● treat as confidential any personal or sensitive information acquired through their work or other involvement in the congregation, other than as required by law or where proper authorisation is given.
● adhere to legal requirements, policies and all other lawful directives regarding the use of personal or sensitive information.
● use personal information only for the purpose stated or understood when the information is gathered.
Relationship with the Law
● Obey Australian laws while recognising that the long standing Christian tradition of political resistance and civil disobedience may lead to exceptions.
● Not act violently or intentionally provoke violence when engaging in civil disobedience.
● Not take property belonging to others, including intellectual property (copyright).
● Not knowingly make false, misleading, deceptive or defamatory statements.
● Disclose to the congregation leadership if they are or have been investigated for any criminal offences or have any knowledge of serious criminal activity.
● act with financial integrity, including having accountable and transparent systems in place in financial matters.
● be responsible in their use of addictive substances and services (for example, medications / alcohol).
Conflict of interest
● ensure personal or financial interests do not conflict with Church related roles and responsibilities to be undertaken or in which a leader is involved.
● manage and declare any conflict between personal interests and congregation duty.
● where conflicts of interest do arise, seek the support of the church council to ensure they are managed in the public interest, according to community standards of the highest order.
2. When the code is breached
This code will only be effective if it is widely known and available throughout the congregation, practised consistently and implemented justly. All lay leaders have a responsibility to ensure that personal behaviour and practices that are not consistent with this code are neither tolerated nor covered up.
● If there is knowledge or reason to believe that another lay leader of the church has not followed this code, then that person should be approached and the concern identified.
● If the lay leader can be considered as persisting in disregarding the code without good reason and a person has suffered or is at risk of suffering harm, then the behaviour should be reported to the church council.
● If in doubt, seek advice from a colleague or the minister.
Reportable Conduct and Working with Vulnerable People
The ACT Reportable Conduct scheme applies to religious organisations from 1 July 2018.
- Lay leaders and employees will ensure that child safety is paramount when planning and conducting any activity that involves children.
- Organisations that conduct children’s or youth activities on the premises of the congregation or under the auspices of the congregation will show evidence of their commitment to child safety and compliance with legal requirements.
- All people who undertake regular activities with children and vulnerable people are required to obtain a Working with Vulnerable People Card and provide evidence of the card to church council secretary who will maintain a register of people with WWVP cards.
- For the purposes of the Reportable Conduct Scheme, the responsible person to whom reportable conduct is reported, and who will conduct investigations as required by the ACT Ombudsman, the General Secretary NSW/ACT Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia.
- Procedures for dealing with reportable conduct allegations are part of the “Safe Church Guidelines for Reportable Conduct ACT – July 2018”.