Adsafe regularly receives new disclosures about persons subject to allegations. The Adsafe Risk Management and Investigation team (RMI) receive allegations about people within the Seventh-day Adventist community that are alleged to or have engaged in criminal conduct of a sexual and physical nature towards a child or vulnerable person, including sexual offences that have occurred within and outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church. RMI also receives allegations against volunteers and employees of alleged sexual and professional misconduct towards a child or vulnerable person. The nature of each allegation requires varying responses from the RMI team. These responses are guided by Adsafe’s child protection and vulnerable person policies adopted by the South Pacific Division, state legislation, legal obligations such as duty of care and not least, a spiritual duty to protect the vulnerable and share the love of God.
One such response to providing safe fellowship for those that have been convicted of sexual offences or have sustained findings of serious sexual misconduct is through a pledge to safe attendance, which we call a fellowship agreement. Fellowship agreements can be tailored to address the risks identified, as they correlate to the offending behaviour and circumstances presented and are designed to provide ministry to all types of past offenders. This process will provide the person of concern (POC) or person subject of allegation (PSOA) with a clear pathway to appropriately engage with the Seventh-day Adventist Community. This enables them to demonstrate that they want to be safe in our community and in partnership, our Church will afford them with boundaries of support to keep them safe. In time, this process moves towards tailored individual plans, taking into consideration the static and dynamic risk factors in a participant’s life, as well as the capacity of the local church to implement the plan.
In demonstrating genuine compassion and justice, churches must take steps to protect the whole church community. The purpose statement of Adsafe holds the ideal that we can work to advocate for change and empower all people in our Adventist communities to experience the love of God. We extend this hope with those that have been found to have offended against children or have sustained findings of serious sexual misconduct, but we do not lose sight of our vision for Adventist communities to be a place where abuse has no place.
Therefore, forgiveness does not mean immunity from temptation to re-offend but extends a caring connection with God’s Church to increase the potential for change and a commitment to safe communities. The forgiveness and grace of God, mediated with supervision and clear guidelines through a local church, can be a vital part of that journey. This demonstrates the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s mission and commitment to provide a safe place for both children and vulnerable persons to attend and experience the love of God. To ensure a safe community for all of our entities and all those that attend, we must work together to manage potential risks.
Categories for a Person of Concern (POC) are:
- Has pleaded guilty to, been convicted of, or has admitted to a sexual criminal offence.
- Has been found to have sexually offended, arising through due diligence checks related to recruitment by a Seventh-day Adventist Organisation (screening).
- Has sustained findings of sexual misconduct which may not have been appropriately investigated. Eg. an investigation which may not have afforded the respondent procedural fairness, such as investigations prior to the Hedges case (prior to 2004).
- Has been found to have received an adverse risk assessment arising from sustained findings of serious sexual misconduct (an independent investigation).
- Exhibits constant wandering across other people’s sexual boundaries. E.g. continual breaches of the code of conduct.
A Person Subject of Allegation (PSOA) is:
- Is currently charged with a sexual offence.
- Where the police provide authorisation for Adsafe to put in place risk management strategies for a person under investigation for a sexual offence.
- Deemed to be a risk to the safety of children and/or vulnerable adults because of an adverse risk assessment relating to alleged sexual misconduct. E.g. An individual who was found not guilty through the criminal process or the police did not proceed with the matter to court however, the alleged victim provided a statement to either the police or Adsafe.