ECKANKAR Australia Youth Safety Policy – Summary
The ECKANKAR Youth Safety Policy is designed to meet both ECKANKAR spiritual guidelines and Australian legal requirements for all Australian ECKANKAR Youth and Family Program activities. It is available to all ECK volunteers, parents, and youth. It is each Affiliate’s (ESCA, ESNA, ESSA, ESWA) sole responsibility to comply with any new or additional measures that are required under commonwealth/state/territory laws.
The objectives of the policy, in alignment with the mission of the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master, are to:
- Support the development of spiritual programs for ECK youth in Australia;
- Ensure youth participating in ECKANKAR activities are appropriately supervised by qualified adults;
- Ensure that reasonable steps are taken to protect youth and volunteers participating in ECKANKAR activities from harm; and
- Ensure that appropriate parental consent is obtained for participants in ECK Youth and Family Program
The EA Board of Directors will review the EA Youth Safety Policy no less than annually to make any necessary changes.
Currently Australian States and Territories have similar legislation, and mandatory reporting requirements in relation to working with children and elderly.
ECKANKAR Australia, an all-volunteer religious organisation, is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all youth (those under the age of 18) and will endeavour to provide them with a safe and secure environment for spiritual studies and other youth activities.
The following values and precepts reflect the culture that ECKANKAR Australia is dedicated to promoting within the organisation:
- Each human being is an individual Soul, a divine spark of GOD.
Sri Harold Klemp, the spiritual leader of Eckankar, writes:
And Soul? What is Soul? Soul is a divine part of God, and you are that. All that remains is for you to recognize yourself. And to recognize yourself as a divine part of God, you must first—and more than anything else—recognize every living thing also as this part of God.
—Be the HU: How to Become a Co-worker with God, p. 299
- Soul equals Soul: treat others and yourself with respect, kindness, and compassion.
Differences of race, creed, gender, ethnicity, etc., are recognised as temporary human attributes, not the eternal attributes of Soul. Hence Eckankar Australia supports all cultures and peoples, offering an atmosphere of harmony, respect, and cooperation while still taking into consideration special cultural needs.
- The two spiritual laws distilled by historian Richard Maybury that all major religions have in common:
- Do all you have agreed to do, and
- Do not encroach on other persons or their Property.
- Soul exists because God loves It.
ECKANKAR Australia has a specific code of conduct for volunteers working with youth:
- Follow the Two-Approved-Adult Rule for all ECK Youth Activities
- Always have at least two approved adult volunteers present during ECK youth activities. The two-approved-adult rule helps ensure the safety of minors and also protects volunteers from false allegations of improper Conduct.
Have a sufficient number of volunteers so that if one volunteer is pulled for another task or to handle an emergency, the safety of other youth is not jeopardized.
- The number of adults needed to supervise an activity is determined by the size of the group, anticipated, environmental conditions, and the overall degree of challenge of the activity. A minimum ratio of one adult to five youth is Two approved adults must be present at all times regardless of the number of children present.
No participating or volunteering youth should be alone or out of open view with another individual except his or her own parent or legal guardian. (Parents are, of course, welcome to be alone with their own children.)
- Refrain from Undue Physical Contact with Youth; Monitor Interactions among Youth and Between Youth and Adults.
Respect each youth’s physical space as well as the attitudes and perceptions of parents. What seems natural and appropriate contact to you as the volunteer, may not be viewed the same way by a youth or their parents.
Only touch a child when necessary or appropriate—for example, in case of an injury. Avoid initiating a hug; a handshake or high five (a slapping of upraised hands) is better.
At the start of any activity, set and review clear boundaries and ground rules for interaction that show love and respect for others. Discuss these with the youth, asking for their ideas. Display them on a whiteboard or flip chart. Try to state what to do rather than what not to do. If not already covered, be sure to include additional agreements such as:
- Keep our hands and feet to Ourselves.
- Listen when others are speaking.
The role of an ECK youth activity volunteer does not extend beyond approved and supervised ECK youth activities. Any adult/youth contact outside of ECK youth activities is at the sole discretion of the youth’s parents.
Parents are responsible for the spiritual and physical upbringing of their children. No ECK youth program or activity involves private mentoring of youth by any volunteer.
In addition, the code of conduct for volunteers working with youth covers such aspects as:
- Use care when communicating with Children and Youth.
- Plan safe ECK activities.
- Adhere to a sign-in/sign-out procedure.
- Have a transportation plan.
- Respond to and report incidents and safety
Copies of the ECKANKAR Youth Safety Policy are available from the Managing Director of ECKANKAR Australia – write PO Box 60C, Yarra Junction, VIC 3797.