Sexual Harassment Policy

 Purpose of Policy
This policy sets out the definition of sexual misconduct and the standards of conduct that is expected of its members, leaders, employee or volunteers.
Access to this policy

Copies of this policy and procedures shall be made publicly available and available to any person on request.

 Policy Statement

This policy of the Australian Christian Gospel Mission Churches (Churches) is grounded in the core tenet of our faith: to fulfill God’s will and purpose by making ourselves clean from sexual immorality and loving God, the Holy Spirit and the Holy Son with our heart, will and life and to love each other as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37). So, we must repent and abstain from immoral sexual practices, both mental and physical.

This policy is grounded on the following Biblical scriptures :

  • Matthew 22:37 – Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23: Now may the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12: you are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Conduct that is less than these scriptural mandates should be addressed and rectified.

It is never permissible or acceptable for a church member, leader, employee, or volunteer to engage in sexual misconduct in any shape or form.

The Churches work to foster a setting of grace-giving interaction among all people, and a proper recourse for any person who is, or perceives that they have been, sexually harassed by another member, leader, staff, volunteer or any person related to a Christian Gospel Mission church.

The Churches will not tolerate or condone a breach of trust or misuse of power by its member or leaders under any circumstances.

The Church protects vulnerable people, including children and young people, against such abuse. When harm does occur, it seeks to address that harm.

All church members, leaders, employees, and volunteers are to maintain the integrity of ministerial, employment, and professional relationship at all times.

The Churches mandate that anyone who is aware of or suspects child sexual abuse or sexual misconduct should report it to the authorities. The Churches must investigate and address any complaint regarding sexual abuse or sexual misconduct made by any person in relation to another member, leader, volunteer or staff.

Reporting of suspected sexual abuse must be in accordance with this policy and the laws applicable to each Church.

 Reporting of sexual abuse
There are a variety of ways that sexual misconduct may be reported. Any person who feels that he/she has been, or is being subjected to sexual harassment or intimidation is encouraged to report such behaviour to :
  • The head pastor of their Church;

  • Any Headquarter leader;

  • To the sexual harassment officer – Mara Pilla

Anyone who witnesses or becomes aware of potential instances of sexual harassment should report such behaviour to the Relevant Leaders.

It is important that all members are made aware of the importance of reporting sexual abuse and the procedure for reporting. In addition, leaders and any person with high visibility in a church must be aware of the procedure for ensuring that reports are directed to a Relevant Leader.

It is important keep in mind the mandatory reporting requirements for reporting allegations of child abuse.

Reports of sexual misconduct must never be taken lightly or disregarded. While the allegation may have to be reported to the authorities, care must be taken to protect the reputation and privacy of the alleged victim. The Church also has a duty of care to the accuser.

The person to whom a sexual misconduct incident is first reported must not undertake an independent inquiry into the incident. Rather, it must be elevated to a relevant Leader either verbally or in writing.

If a report is made orally, the Leader receiving the report should request that the person promptly make a written record of their complaint or allegation. The Leader may assist the person in making the written report, such as by transcribing or translating if the person consents.

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

Child sex abuse is a criminal offence.

Any allegation of any form of abuse towards a child under the age of consent (the definition of ‘child’ may differ by State) must be immediately reported to the head pastor of the church. If a child is considered to be at risk of harm by the head pastor, the accused person must be immediately removed to prevent further contact with any child in the Church. The allegation must be reported immediately to the relevant law enforcement authority and to Headquarters.

It is important that members are informed of the contact details of law enforcement authorities to enable the reporting of any urgent incidents involving suspected abuse to a child where the child is at risk of harm. In addition, members should be informed of the internal reporting structure for non-urgent incidents.

Relevant laws and law enforcement
In handling sexual abuse allegations, Churches must ensure that leaders or members do not interfere with any legal process, in particular, criminal investigations. Similarly, the Church has the right to undertake its own full investigation into any matter which affects its congregation, members or those in its care. It is important that each Church takes into consideration the relevant state and federal crime laws, including child protection legislation, the Commonwealth Crimes Act, the Criminal Code and anti-discrimination legislation (as set out under ‘relevant legislations’ in the Appendix).

Given the seriousness of sexual abuse, it is critically important that leaders are appropriately trained in proper and lawful conduct towards others. All head pastors, assistant leaders, missionaries, group leaders, department leaders, elders and employees of the church must undertake sexual harassment training.

A primary requirement for all persons should be common knowledge regarding professional and appropriate boundaries between leaders and members, the Code of Conduct and the Sexual Harassment Policy.

Educating and Training

The Churches will develop and implement a range of programs to expand and embed good practice regarding sexual abuse prevention. These programs may include, but are not limited to :

  • Prevention (including guidelines to assist in the identification of suspicious behaviour);

  • Supporting the congregation and reporters of suspected abuse;

  • Evaluating and improving practices; and

  • Education and training.

Child is as defined under the respective criminal law of each State.
Consent is free agreement; free and voluntary agreement; or consent freely and voluntarily given.
Sexual Misconduct is the comprehensive term used in this policy to include :
  • Child Sexual Abuse
    Is an act which exposes a child to or involves a child in sexual processes beyond his or her understanding or contrary to accepted community standards. Sexually abusive behaviours can include voyeurism, exhibitionism and exposing the child or involving the child in pornography. It includes child grooming, which refers to actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child to lower the child’s inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity with the child. The Australian Institute of Family Studies refers to child sexual abuse in an institution as being when there is any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult in a position or authority over the child.

  • Sexual Abuse
    Any forced or coerced sexual activity by one person to exert power and control over another.

  • Sexual Assault
    Includes unwanted or inappropriate touching or kissing of a person’s body, having sex with someone without their consent, and rape. It can also involve exposing another person to sexual behaviour without their consent, such as masturbating in front of them or forcing the person to watch pornography.

  • Rape
    Where a person has sexual intercourse (including penetration of the genitals, anus or mouth — without consent — by a penis, object or other part of the body), or continues to have sexual intercourse, with another person without the consent of that person (or continuing where consent has been withdrawn), either knowing that there is no consent or being recklessly indifferent about that consent.

  • Sexual harassment
    Is an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances.

    And any other sexual conduct prohibited by Criminal Law in each State.

Relevant Legislations

It is important that each Church takes into consideration the relevant State legislation in dealing with sexual abuse allegations.