The client institution, here the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, determines the process it wishes to adopt for dealing with complaints. The Synod of the Diocese of Melbourne has enacted legislation governing the process: the Professional Standards Uniform Act 2016-19.
Anyone including the Director of Professional Standards can lodge a complaint against a Church worker.
The Professional Standards process has separate bodies with different functions for different stages of the process of dealing with a complaint.
The Kooyoora directors, not the Church, appoint both the Professional Standards Committee members and the members of the Panels from whom the lay President in each instance appoints the members of the Professional Standards Board or Review Board for a particular matter.
The Archbishop as the Church authority for clergy receives and gives effect to a determination and recommendation from the Board or Review Board.
The question of fitness for the role office or position
The function of a Professional Standards Board is to enquire into and determine a question of fitness of a person for a role and, if appropriate, make recommendations.
The expressions ‘fit,’ and ‘fit and proper’ standing alone, have no precise meaning and no exhaustive prescription of their elements. A determination of fitness involves a holistic approach taking into account the character of the person, their honesty, integrity and ability, their past conduct and their present circumstances and disposition. See also s75 which deems a Church worker to be unfit if on the balance of probabilities they constitute an unacceptable risk of harm to any person.
The Act serves to protect the community and deems that if a person, in continuing to hold a role, constitutes on the balance of probabilities an unacceptable risk of harm to anyone, they will be regarded as unfit, whether temporarily or permanently, to hold the role. Other facts may lead to an objective finding of unfitness.
The Codes of Conduct adopted by the Diocese set out in more detail the standards of behaviour which the Anglican Church in the Diocese expects from its people. It is the responsibility of each Church worker to be aware of and meet these standards and, unless there are cogent reasons for not doing so, to follow the guidelines in the codes.
They are relevant in determining whether the conduct of a person renders them unfit to hold a role office or position or fit subject to any condition or restriction.
The Board has a discretion as to the action it may recommend to the Church authority, for example, suspension or termination of employment, revocation of a licence to engage in ministry or deposition from the exercise of Holy Orders.
The Board may direct the cancellation of a person’s clearance for ministry.
The Board’s function is not punitive or disciplinary. It is protective of the community. A recommendation may seek to uphold proper standards and serve to deter others from like conduct.