By Mark Brolly
4 December 2021
A DRAFT grievance policy for the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne is likely to be tested in a few months, Archbishop Philip Freier told synod representatives in October.
The Reverend Dr David Powys of St John’s Bentleigh asked about the issue, saying he had experienced, without warning, several professional standards complaints of bullying being lodged against him.
He said these took nearly two years to resolve, “giving rise to widespread hurt to myself and many others, but with the complaints against me eventually being dismissed”.
Dr Freier said a draft policy had been prepared in late 2020.
He said this had been presented twice to the diocesan leadership team early in 2021, but there were reservations expressed around the current form, due to the practicalities of the recommended protocols.
He said meetings had been held with other dioceses about their approaches, and the draft would then be reassessed and rewritten.
“This is likely to take another two to three months to research, write and then to do some pilot testing internally,” Dr Freier said.
“This will then be presented to the People and Culture committee … and the Episcopate team for their review and final approval.”
This question was among several asked during October’s synod, including one from Sue Collier of Glen Waverley Anglican.
Ms Collier raised concerns about the potential legal, security and social ramifications of posting services containing content presented by people who may not have considered the possible consequences of posting their words and images on the internet.
She asked if the diocese had developed any guidelines about the availability of live-streamed church services or made any recommendations concerning parish privacy policies.
Dr Freier said the diocese’s general manager was currently seeking legal advice on several matters relating to privacy policies and the application of these in parishes. He said parishes would hear about this information when it was available.
St Stephen’s Richmond representative Jill Pickering asked the archbishop why there had been no annual reports since 2015 on progress towards the goal 98 per cent of the diocese being accessible for people with disabilities.
Archbishop Freier replied that Anne Fairweather had started as Safe Ministry Inclusion Officer for the diocese at the start of 2021 and had provided a report, including on disability inclusion, to this year’s Synod.
He said a focus group would be appointed shortly to further develop the diocese’s disability inclusion plan.
Nine questions were asked about the Archbishop Election Act review, with most inquirers directed to the report of the review committee.
Dr Freier was also asked about church plants in the Melbourne diocese by the Reverend Dr Andrew Judd of Ridley College.