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HELPLINE 1800 070 511
Creating Safer Communities
HELPLINE 1800 070 511
HELPLINE 1800 070 511


It has become evident to society that children are not the only vulnerable group of people in need of protection.

Adults can, and do, experience abuse and other health related concerns. 

When responding to Safe Ministry concerns about abuse or health issues of adults it is important that we remember the following.

Adults are self-determining
Adults have the right to make decisions about their own lives, so long as the actions are not endangering themselves or others. This means we will need to work with the adult at risk rather than ‘acting in the best interest of the child’ as is done when considering a response in the area of child protection.

Legal issues
Sometimes it will be very clear what to do, as in allegations of criminal activity toward an adult e.g. sexual harassment or rape.

Church procedures
For example, all allegations of ministry misconduct or abuse by a church worker against vulnerable adults need to responded be to with fairness and due process.

Pastoral responses 
For concerns about the conduct of people with special needs (e.g. intellectual or physical disability or mental health concern) speak to a pastor who may seek advice from relevant health services. There are times when this will mean utilising the local health services and working with the person and their family to provide comfort, support and access to resources and services.

For this reason, it is most important that you do not go it alone!

If you have a concern about an adult at your church or are concerned about an adult’s behaviour towards others, report it to a senior leader (e.g. your ministry coordinator or a pastor).


Bullying in the workplace (online or in person)
Australian Human Rights Commission
FairWork Australia
Australian Human Rights Commission
Emotional abuse
Health Direct
Physical violence
Our Watch
Sexual harassment and/or sexual violence
Reach Out
Domestic or family violence
National Sexual Assault & Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
Elder abuse
Ageing & Disability Commission
Relationships Australia
Adults with disabilities
People with Disability Australia
Australian Institute of Health & Welfare
Adults experiencing mental illness
Australian Institute of Health & Welfare
Beyond Blue
MensLine Australia
Suicide/self-harm risk
Sane Australia
Suicide Call Back Service
Stalking behaviours
NSW Police

Disclaimer: These publications are not legal advice. The ideas and procedures herein are based on nationally recognised good practice advice and have been written with due regard to Australian legislation March 2020.  Legal advice may need to be sought when responding to individual incidents.

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