October 22 marks the first anniversary of the historic National Apology to Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
A year on from the landmark apology to survivors and their families, the Uniting Church in Australia acknowledges and laments the role of the Uniting Church in causing harm to children and renews its commitment to be a Church that is safe for all people.
President Deidre Palmer acknowledged the Church’s ongoing role in correcting the wrongs of the past.
“We must continue to hear the voice of survivors, so that these terrible things never happen again,” Dr Palmer said.
“The Uniting Church is committed to redress for survivors and the safety of children continues to be at the forefront of our Church’s work with children and families.”
Uniting Churches across the nation have been invited to mark the anniversary with a Liturgy of Acknowledgement and Lament to be adapted and used on or near 20 October.
“This liturgy has been developed to mark the anniversary, to acknowledge and lament the role of the Uniting Church in causing harm to children,” said Dr Palmer.
“It acknowledges the terrible breach of trust and the damage done to individuals, communities and relationships. This is part of our story that we will continue to acknowledge so that we never forget and never become complacent.”
“Through this liturgy, we also look to the future, renewing our commitment to living the Gospel of Christ by being a Church that is a place of safety for all people.”
“We are living this out daily, by our participation in the National Redress Scheme, by our establishment of the National Safe Church Unit, by the commitment of resources to child safety in our Synods, congregations, schools and agencies,” she said.
President Palmer said, “While it is difficult and distressing to talk about and it can be hard to hear, it is important that we engage in these conversations.”
“The Royal Commission showed that for too long, these harmful acts took place in the dark with survivors being dismissed or silenced. It is only by continuing to speak openly and honestly about the abuse and its impacts that there can be growth for survivors and communities, and ongoing diligence in protecting children in the future.”
The Liturgy of Acknowledgement and Lament can be downloaded below along with a letter from President Dr Deidre Palmer. Please feel free to draw upon this resource and adapt to your local context.
If individuals in your communities are distressed, it is important to remember that specialised services are available at https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/contact.