FAQ

 

FAQ
A growing collection of Frequently Asked Questions to assist Safe Ministry Representatives and others in parish ministry. There are more Safe Ministry Training-specific FAQ on the Training website at: https://safeministry.training/faq

 

Training

If a worker (volunteer or paid) misplaces their Safe Ministry Training certificate or other documentation relating to their Training record, here are the options:

  • The Safe Ministry Representative of the church where the person was a member when the training was undertaken should have a record of the date and location of that training and can therefore verify that person’s Safe Ministry Training status.
  • If no record of that training was kept, then in order for that person to continue working with children, they will have to complete the Essentials course in order to re-establish their training record.

In accordance with the Parish Administration Ordinance (2008) A person appointed to a children’s ministry position must have satisfactorily completed safe ministry training within the last 3 years or within 3 months after their appointment…

When someone starts working with children for the first time, it is preferable that they complete their training prior to commencing in their role. If there are extraordinary circumstances*, there may be a grace period applied to allow them to complete the training as soon as possible, and definitely within three months of commencing work. If they do not complete their training within that time, they must stand down until they do.

*If there are very unusual circumstances such as serious medical reasons or the person is overseas, some leniency should be offered, but before doing so, the Safe Ministry Rep or Minister should contact the Safe Ministry Parish Consultant to discuss the details.

The Sydney Anglican Diocese is a member and endorsed training partner under the National Council of Churches Safe Church Training Agreement (SCTA).

The National Council of Churches in Australia have established a network of Endorsed Training Partners across Australia who agree to accept each other’s training in Safe Ministry. You can see a current list of those churches/denominations here: http://www.ncca.org.au/scta/scta-members Scroll down to view the training partners.

So if someone joins your church and presents proof of current training from an endorsed SCTA training partner (church or organisation), then it is accepted as being equivalent to our training until the expiry of that training. You should enter the details of the training and its source and expiry date into your Safe Ministry Records.

When the expiry of that training approaches, that person will then need to complete our Refresher course before their current training expires, just as our own trainees do.

If someone presents training credentials from an organisation that is NOT on the SCTA Endorsed Training Partner list, that training cannot be accepted and they must complete Essentials before commencing ministry with children or youth.

Safe Ministry Training lasts for three years.

When the Safe Ministry Training expiry date approaches for an existing worker in your church (volunteer or paid), they should:

  • Make every effort to complete the Refresher course BEFORE the expiry date.
  • If this is impossible to comply with*, they should complete the Refresher course within 30 days of the expiry date. Note: where training is completed online, all aspects of the training including the webinar must be completed prior to the 30 day grace period expiring.

If a Refresher course is not completed within 30 days of the expiry of their training, the leader should step down from their ministry role(s), and complete the ‘Essentials‘ course again before resuming their role.

*If there are very unusual circumstances such as serious medical reasons or the person is overseas, some leniency should be offered, but before doing so, the Safe Ministry Rep or Minister should contact the Safe Ministry Parish Consultant to discuss the details.
The Safe Ministry Board clarified and confirmed the above details as policy at their December 2016 meeting. This underscores the importance for all church workers keeping track of their training dates.

All clergy and lay ministers have the same requirements as anyone who is working with children in your church or ministry.

That means:

  • they must have a verified WWCC and
  • they must be current in their Safe Ministry training – even if their role does not involve them directly working with children.

Things to check for if you are a Safe Ministry Representative:

  • Make sure you have all clergy staff members give you their WWCC details (for recording in your Safe Ministry Records and verifying), and their Safe Ministry Training details (evidence of date of last training, and preferably name of trainer, etc)
  • It’s easy for ministers to forget about renewing their WWCC or Safe Ministry training, so you will be doing them a big favour if you remind them in plenty of time when those dates are coming up.
  • In the past, clergy and lay ministers who hold a license from the Archbishop have gained credit for Safe Ministry training by attending the Faithfulness in Service Conference held every three years. But from 2017 that training credit will no longer exist, so all clergy and lay ministers will need to complete a Safe Ministry training online or as a face to face session at a regional Safe Ministry Training Event every three years.

Managing Junior Leaders (those under 18 years of age) needs as much care as we give the process with adult leaders. Here are the main points:

  • Working with Children Check (WWCC) – Under 18 year olds cannot obtain a WWCC, so they and their parents/guardian must complete this declaration which must then be securely stored with other safe ministry documents. Note: A Junior Leader must have a verified WWCC as soon as they turn 18. This transition is helped by the fact that they can apply from 17 years 9 months of age.
  • Screening – We should be as vigilant with our screening of Junior Leaders as we are with adults (a high percentage of sexual abuse of children is peer-to-peer abuse). Therefore, every church should use a comprehensive screening policy such as found in  this document.
  • Safe Ministry Training – All Junior Leaders should be current in their Safe ministry Training – just as adult leaders are expected to be.
    To clarify the training requirements for Junior Leaders, the Safe Ministry Board approved the following at its December 2016 meeting:

    • A Junior Leader is a person who is under 18 years of age, and has been appointed to a leadership role in children’s or youth ministry in a parish.
    • In general, it is more appropriate for a Junior Leader to complete the Safe Ministry Junior Leader course instead of the Safe Ministry Essentials course as a part of their training for their role.
    • However, once a person who has been a Junior Leader attains 18 years of age they must complete the Essentials course unless it was previously completed. All leaders must complete the Essentials course prior to undertaking the Refresher course.
    • At the discretion of the rector or his delegate, a Junior Leader who is 16 or 17 years of age who has greater leadership responsibilities than a Junior Leader would usually have (e.g. has some teaching responsibilities or has the maturity to be included in leader to child ratios),  should complete the Essentials course rather than the Junior Leader course.

Any further questions: please contact your local church Safe Ministry Representative,  Safe Ministry Training Supportor the Safe Ministry Parish Consultant.

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Administration

The recent Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse is impacting many aspects of how we do Safe Ministry, and record keeping is one of those areas.

A common question is how long do we have to keep attendance records and similar documentation.

The new recommendation is:
A copy of permission slips, records of attendance and other such data that you collect should be kept securely at the church for at least 45yrs (as recommended by the Royal Commission) but ideally would be kept indefinitely. You may choose to scan this information to save it electronically (then carefully dispose of the paper documents).
When storing information that contains sensitive data (such as permission forms) you should consider the following:

  • The file(s) should only be accessible to people with a genuine ‘need to know’
  • Multiple backups should be made and securely stored in different locations. Strong passwords must be used.
  • Create a standardised approach to storing and backing up all electronic Safe Ministry data

Given the space issues with keeping paper copies of such documents over such a long time, we recommend that a protocol be developed to scan any paper documents to a format such as PDF and carefully filed and backed up.
This should be carefully and conservatively thought through to take into account the unique challenges of storing electronic data for that long.

In the early days of the NSW WWCC, the idea went around that there was an advantage to re-verifying WWCC numbers of people in their church.

However, this is false thinking. The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) make it very clear that they will inform any ’employer’ (in our case, ‘church’) if there is a significant change of status for any person with a current WWCC.
So there is no advantage to routinely re-verifying the WWCC numbers of people in your church.

Safe Ministry Records are a vital and key part of our Safe Ministry system.

It is vital that every church or ministry body keeps accurate, comprehensive and permanent records of everyone in your church or associated with it (eg: SRE teachers from other churches but going into schools under your churches name) who works with <18yr olds.The document below summarises the requirements for Safe Ministry Records.
Note that the PSU offers a free, online Safe Ministry Records system for any church wishing to use it. It is suitable for small churches currently using a spreadsheet, or larger churches wishing to keep Safe Ministry Records separate from their main Church Management System.

Safe Ministry Records – A Guide – August2016

The short answer is ‘yes’ – just as so many other areas of our life are going online, there is no reason why we can’t streamline Safe Ministry processes.
There is an article already written about this here, but here are the key points to be aware of:

  • Choose HOW you put forms online carefully.
    Putting a Word or PDF form up on your website for downloading and completing is easy and low risk, but that option is not a true online form, as the document still has to be printed and manually signed. For a true online form you should avoid most ‘free’ options such as Google Docs. This is because nothing online is genuinely free. In Google’s case, they retain all rights to your data (even if you delete it!) and this has serious privacy implications for sensitive information that we are likely to collect. Look at a low-cost tool such as Wufoo as a much better option, and create/display your online form in a secure environment that can then export that data in a number of formats for you use as you need.
  • What about signatures?
    This is managed in online forms with a well designed notice before a box is ticked to indicate agreement to a set of conditions. What we are after when we seek a signature on a paper form is a clear indication of consent to a set of conditions. So long as we clearly seek the same type of agreement, the method of agreeing can be a tick box or something similar.
    So wording of such a notice might run something like:
    “I declare that by ticking the box below that I am a parent or legal guardian of [field for entry of childs full name], and that I agree to my child attending and participating in the [name of event or activity] as described above, and that I have already completed the [Name of church] enduring permission form.
    [tick box] [Field for full name of parent/guardian]
    I understand my IP address will be recorded and retained with this form.”Note: that is just some suggested wording, you may need to adapt it to your own use.
  • Storing the results.
    Storing the results from online forms should be handled in a similar way to paper documents that contain sensitive information:

    • The file(s) should only be accessible to people with a genuine ‘need to know’
    • Multiple backups should be made and securely stored in different locations. Strong passwords must be used.
    • Create a standardised approach to storing and backing up all electronic Safe Ministry data
Tags: forms, online

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Screening

In the early days of the NSW WWCC, the idea went around that there was an advantage to re-verifying WWCC numbers of people in their church.

However, this is false thinking. The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) make it very clear that they will inform any ’employer’ (in our case, ‘church’) if there is a significant change of status for any person with a current WWCC.
So there is no advantage to routinely re-verifying the WWCC numbers of people in your church.

Proper screening of the workers in our ministries to vulnerable people is perhaps the single best tool in our toolbox to help prevent abuse in our ministries.

Our Safe Ministry Training course (Essentials) is very clear about this process:

Thorough recruitment, screening and selection of leaders are vital to the success of a ministry. By being thorough, churches are ensuring that those attending programs are being ministered to by people who are suited to the ministry role. The recruitment and appointment of leaders should involve creating role descriptions, undertaking appropriate screening checks, completing an application for ministry and conducting interviews with candidates for certain positions before their appointment. Once appointed leaders should be expected to undertake ongoing training for their role as well as being appropriately supervised.

A leadership pack should be made available to leaders prior to engaging them in leadership. This should include:

Job descriptions (including a code of conduct)
Churches should have clear job descriptions written for each ministry role, both paid and unpaid positions. Leaders should know to whom they are responsible, what they are responsible for and the expected length of time they will serve in their role.

Code of Conduct‐Faithfulness in Service (2014)

3.1  This Code [Faithfulness in Service] will only be effective if it is widely known and available throughout the Church, practiced consistently and implemented justly. Clergy and church workers will protect the safety of others and themselves by observing its standards and following its guidelines.

This code of conduct is the basis for how all leaders should appropriately minister to others and where the boundaries are in their capacity as a leader. It is highly recommended that leaders are given a copy of the code early in their induction process and should access it on a regular basis . As part of their commitment to leadership and preferably prior to taking on their leadership position, leaders should agree to read the code of conduct and confirm in writing that they have done so and will abide by the code.

Application for ministry
This is similar to a job application form and can provide general information about a person for a particular role as well as any experience or qualifications
they may have that are relevant to the position. they can also provide an opportunity to understand more about the person’s understanding of the gospel.
Examples are here and here

Relevant screening procedures

  • Background or referee checks
    This should be part of the application process for a volunteer and provide further information about a potential leader. This is also a valuable source of information when a person is new or relatively unknown to a church. Any leader should have a positive reputation and opportunity to be observed in the life of the church before they are appointed as a leader.
  • Working with Children Check
    It is a legal requirement for any leader 18yrs and over working with children or youth to undertake a NSW Working With Children Check (WWCC) prior to commencing in their position. Leaders under 18yrs should complete a Volunteer Declaration form.
    All workers 18yrs and over in child‐related work in NSW (volunteers and paidworkers) must obtain a Working with Children Check clearance number (to apply go to www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au).
    Employers (in our case the local church) must request this number from workers and verify their Check’s status before engaging them in child‐related work. Any worker with a barred status must not be engaged in child‐related work.
    Employers (churches) are required to keep the following records of child‐related workers in electronic or hard copy format:

    • full name
    • Working With Children Check number
    • date and outcome of the Check verification
    • Check expiry date
  • Engaging leaders in school‐based ministries
    To access current SRE authorisation forms and information go to www.youthworks.net/sre/authorisation_policy

    • Special Religious Education (SRE) Engagement form
      An Engagement form needs to be completed by paid and voluntary SRE teachers and helpers upon commencement of SRE teaching or change of church. It is signed by the Senior Minister and teacher/helper and copies are kept by the church.
    • SRE Teacher Authorisation (Orange card)
      A person will be authorised to teach SRE in a public school and issued with an orange Authorisation card when they have completed Safe Ministry training and submitted both their WWCC number and SRE Engagement form to their employer or church.
      The SRE teacher, and anyone accompanying them, should carry the Authorisation card with them at all times on NSW Government School grounds.
    • Scripture Union Christian lunchtime voluntary group leaders forms
      This document can be obtained by contacting NSW SU House or by registering online at www.nsw.su.org.au

A Working With Children Check (WWCC) is a prerequisite for anyone in child-related work in NSW, including volunteer ministry. It includes a national police check and review of findings of misconduct involving children. The result is either a clearance or a bar.
Note: The State government regards the Diocese as the ’employer’ of all Clergy and licensed Lay Ministers, and the local church is the ’employer’ of all volunteers (’employees’) working with under 18 year olds.

Your Responsibility as an Employee

If you work in child-related work in NSW (volunteers and paid workers) you must apply for a WWCC.

  • Complete an online form at www.newcheck.kids.nsw.gov.au to receive an application number.
  • Take the application number and proof of identity to a NSW motor registry. If you are a paid worker, you must also pay an $80 fee for a five year clearance (checks for volunteer workers are free).
  • You will then receive the outcome of your WWCC by email (or post where necessary).

A WWCC clearance is valid for five years. Your employer will request this number from you to verify your Check’s status before you can engage in child-related work.

The Employers’ Responsibility

Employers must verify online all new employees in child-related work before hiring them. The verification process is the same for all child-related workers (paid and unpaid).

An employer must be registered on the WWCC system to be able to verify workers.

To verify the WWCC status of a worker, an employer must login at www.newcheck.kids.nsw.gov.au and enter the worker’s full name, date of birth, and their WWCC number. The status of the WWCC will then appear on-screen.

Employers are required to keep records of child-related workers which include:

  • Full name
  • WWCC number
  • Date and outcome of the Check verification
  • Check expiry date

These records may be electronic or in hard copy format.

The WWCC is valid for five years and during this time, cleared applicants will be subject to ongoing monitoring. Employers who have verified a worker will be contacted if that worker becomes barred before the Check’s five year expiry date. In these circumstances employers will be notified of what action to take with the worker.

Click here to access fact sheets relating to the new WWCC.

Tag: WWCC

The Sydney Anglican Diocese is a member and endorsed training partner under the National Council of Churches Safe Church Training Agreement (SCTA).

The National Council of Churches in Australia have established a network of Endorsed Training Partners across Australia who agree to accept each other’s training in Safe Ministry. You can see a current list of those churches/denominations here: http://www.ncca.org.au/scta/scta-members Scroll down to view the training partners.

So if someone joins your church and presents proof of current training from an endorsed SCTA training partner (church or organisation), then it is accepted as being equivalent to our training until the expiry of that training. You should enter the details of the training and its source and expiry date into your Safe Ministry Records.

When the expiry of that training approaches, that person will then need to complete our Refresher course before their current training expires, just as our own trainees do.

If someone presents training credentials from an organisation that is NOT on the SCTA Endorsed Training Partner list, that training cannot be accepted and they must complete Essentials before commencing ministry with children or youth.

All clergy and lay ministers have the same requirements as anyone who is working with children in your church or ministry.

That means:

  • they must have a verified WWCC and
  • they must be current in their Safe Ministry training – even if their role does not involve them directly working with children.

Things to check for if you are a Safe Ministry Representative:

  • Make sure you have all clergy staff members give you their WWCC details (for recording in your Safe Ministry Records and verifying), and their Safe Ministry Training details (evidence of date of last training, and preferably name of trainer, etc)
  • It’s easy for ministers to forget about renewing their WWCC or Safe Ministry training, so you will be doing them a big favour if you remind them in plenty of time when those dates are coming up.
  • In the past, clergy and lay ministers who hold a license from the Archbishop have gained credit for Safe Ministry training by attending the Faithfulness in Service Conference held every three years. But from 2017 that training credit will no longer exist, so all clergy and lay ministers will need to complete a Safe Ministry training online or as a face to face session at a regional Safe Ministry Training Event every three years.

Managing Junior Leaders (those under 18 years of age) needs as much care as we give the process with adult leaders. Here are the main points:

  • Working with Children Check (WWCC) – Under 18 year olds cannot obtain a WWCC, so they and their parents/guardian must complete this declaration which must then be securely stored with other safe ministry documents. Note: A Junior Leader must have a verified WWCC as soon as they turn 18. This transition is helped by the fact that they can apply from 17 years 9 months of age.
  • Screening – We should be as vigilant with our screening of Junior Leaders as we are with adults (a high percentage of sexual abuse of children is peer-to-peer abuse). Therefore, every church should use a comprehensive screening policy such as found in  this document.
  • Safe Ministry Training – All Junior Leaders should be current in their Safe ministry Training – just as adult leaders are expected to be.
    To clarify the training requirements for Junior Leaders, the Safe Ministry Board approved the following at its December 2016 meeting:

    • A Junior Leader is a person who is under 18 years of age, and has been appointed to a leadership role in children’s or youth ministry in a parish.
    • In general, it is more appropriate for a Junior Leader to complete the Safe Ministry Junior Leader course instead of the Safe Ministry Essentials course as a part of their training for their role.
    • However, once a person who has been a Junior Leader attains 18 years of age they must complete the Essentials course unless it was previously completed. All leaders must complete the Essentials course prior to undertaking the Refresher course.
    • At the discretion of the rector or his delegate, a Junior Leader who is 16 or 17 years of age who has greater leadership responsibilities than a Junior Leader would usually have (e.g. has some teaching responsibilities or has the maturity to be included in leader to child ratios),  should complete the Essentials course rather than the Junior Leader course.

Any further questions: please contact your local church Safe Ministry Representative,  Safe Ministry Training Supportor the Safe Ministry Parish Consultant.

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Good Leadership

Some examples of leader ratios for common situations in our churches. Use these as a basis for your own church circumstances:

  • Sunday crèche with 10 children aged from 11 months to 3 years
    1:5 ratio – at least 2 adult leaders ( junior leaders should not be included in the supervision ratios).
  • Thursday Kids club with 25 children, ages 8 to 10
    1:7 ratio – at least 4 leaders, perhaps more if held away from the church site.
  • Friday night rock climbing event with 9 children, ages 11 to 13
    1:4 ratio – at least 2, preferably 3 leaders accounting for the high risk nature of the event and that it is off‐site/an unfamiliar environment.
  • Sunday afternoon bible study with 8 youth, ages 15 to 16, in one of the youth’s home
    At least 2 leaders to enable accountability standards as it is in a private home (if the parent of the youth is willing to assist/be available to the leader they may be included in the supervision ratio).
  • Weekly ministry for adults with a disability run in the church hall with 15 participants
    1:4 ratio– at least 3‐4 leaders (due to the variation in support needs between different people who have a disability this may need to be adjusted accordingly).
  • Is the class room teacher required to stay in an SRE class of 30 children with one SRE teacher and no helper?
    The class room teacher is not required to stay however it may be a policy of the school that teachers remain in the room whilst SRE is conducted. You may like to ask the teacher to stay if you think it would be helpful. It would also be good to have an assistant with a class of this size.

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