November 2020 News

Dear reader,
Welcome to the November 2020 SMR news - especially if it's your first as Safe Ministry Rep. - and there are quite a few of you!

Key Points:
  • Important official circular about Child Safe Standards
  • Changes to the requirements to store SMC ID documents (you will like this!)
  • New resource for Safe Ministry Reps: your own, private Facebook group
  • SMC encouragement

Circular - Safe Ministry Standards

Based on their research and findings, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended 10 Child Safe Standards to be implemented by organisations working with children.
The NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) is now seeking to support
organisations (including religious organisations) to implement these standards, which are likely to become mandatory through the passing of legislation by the NSW Government in mid-2021.
This circular summaries the 10 standards and serves as a 'heads up' for our churches.

This is good news for us, as these standards are very helpful in summarising key matters the Royal Commission raised, and we will be producing quality resources over the next six months to help churches with the process of implementing these standards.
In case you are thinking "not more compliance issues!" - as you read the Standards I'm sure you will see that your church is likely to be compliant with the vast majority of them already, and that most of the work to be done will be focussed on re-stating much of what we already do in the terms of the Standards.

A separate email will be sent to all Senior Ministers about the Circular, but please do mention this to them and do whatever you can to ensure they read and understand the circular.

Download the Circular
Note: this information is available any time via this article on the Safe Ministry website:


Helpful changes to storage of SMC ID documents

One of the more challenging aspects of the new Safe Ministry Check has been the requirement for our churches to securely store a copy of the id documents that your volunteers supply as part of their SMC.
There have been legitimate concerns around the security of these documents and the risk of identity theft if they are not stored well.
So after considering these matters, Diocesan legal counsel has recommended making some helpful changes to these requirements:

The PDF version of the Safe Ministry Check form
Currently, church member who use the pdf version of the SMC form attach a copy of their id document(s) to the form and the church stores both the form and the id docs indefinably.
From December 1st, this should be the process:
  • A slightly modified version of the SMC pdf form will replace the current version on the website.
  • The new version will have a small change to the 'Office use only' section on page 3 where the church Authorised Delegate can 'sign off' on the id document(s), showing that they match the person concerned.
  • The authorised delegate can then securely destroy (shredding is best) the copy of the id documents, and when the rest of the form is processed, that should be stored as per existing instructions/recommendations.
The Online Safe Ministry Check form
The storage of id documents uploaded as part of completing the online Safe Ministry Check form will not change at the moment. This is mainly because of the high level of security applied to these documents.
Currently, the following is true for the online form process:
  • All communication between the users device and our website is encrypted (true for all communication, not just the SMC form). The symbol in the address bar of your browser confirms this.
  • When a user clicks on the 'submit' button at the end of the SMC form, the uploaded id document file(s) are encrypted using a 256 bit encryption key (ie: very strong), and uploaded and stored in that state to a cloud storage platform. This means that even if that storage platform suffers a security breach, the files of these documents are unreadable without the encryption key. Two people in the PSU have the encryption key, which itself is very securely stored in an encrypted form.
  • The rest of the data in the online SMC form is also then encrypted and stored in our database. Currently I am the only person able to read the contents of those stored forms.
  • Of course, the copy of the SMC form as a PDF that is sent to the applicant and the church Authorised Delegate is NOT encrypted (they would not be able to read it otherwise).
  • The id documents are also emailed to the church Authorised Delegate.
The only change we are now recommending to the church processing of these forms submitted online is for the Authorised Delegate to check the id documents that they match the person concerned, and then to delete the copy of the id documents.
We suggest churches create a simple document that can be attached to the PDF version of the form which indicates the church Authorised Delegate has sighted and 'signed off' on the id document(s).
FireShot Pro Screen Capture #078 - '(3) Sydney Anglican SMR's I Facebook' - www_facebook_com_groups_173114257798286

SMR Facebook Group

There have been a few suggestions for this in recent times, so here it is!
Important points:
  • It is a private group, and to join I need to approve each person. This keeps it secure and any discussions within it.
  • The main reason for it: a safe and private place for SMR's to ask questions, support each other, share ideas or solutions to problems, etc
  • The address is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/173114257798286
  • Involvement in this group is entirely optional!

SMC Encouragement

We are very aware of the hard work many SMR's have put into helping their churches to be compliant with the requirements of the Safe Ministry To Children Ordinance 2020. In particular, the need to have all your current adult volunteers in children's/youth ministries complete the SMC before January 1st.

I wanted to share with you that we are seeing lots of online SMC forms coming through. We don't really know how many to expect in total, but the sense is that there are lots more to come.
So, this is just an encouragement to keep up the great work, give your Senior Minister a nudge if you think he needs it, and focus on getting the job done by the end of the year!

We haven't forgotten about Frontline - our Safe Ministry Podcast.
Due to annual leave and other general busy-ness, there won't be a November episode, but there will be a special Christmas edition sometime between now and Christmas.

Until then, you can find all previous episodes here: https://safeministry.org.au/frontline/

Keeping up to date with news

Newsletter Archive
An archive of all SMR Newsletters (since we moved to our new system) is available here.
Email alerts
Your can subscribe to email alerts system for new content on the safeministry.org.au website:

Likewise, alerts for new content are posted to our Twitter account, and you can find that account and follow us to get those alerts here:
That's it for this edition.

With warm regards

Neil Atwood
Parish Consultant
02 9265 1547