Safe Ministry Check – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The Safe Ministry to Children Ordinance 2020 completely revises what the 2018 Ordinance of the same name covered. It incorporates the Safe Ministry content contained in the Parish Administration and other Ordinances.

It also includes new processes that focus on improved screening of volunteer and paid church workers who work with children. The process for paid workers is handled by the Diocese, but the local church has the role of managing and processing the new Safe Ministry Check.
The following is a range of common questions pertaining to the volunteer Safe Ministry Check and related processes.

Last Updated on May 16, 2023

The Ordinance states all (existing and new) volunteers who work with children (ie: people under the age of 18 years old).
There are a few exceptions – please see the Ordinance for details.

No. There is a separate form and process for paid workers to seek an Authority as a Lay Minister
The Safe Ministry Check for licensed clergy and Authorised Lay Minister Applicants are managed by the Registry and ODSM, not the local parish.

Yes, all SRE teachers whether teaching infants, primary or high school will be required to undertake a Safe Ministry Assessment and the relevant Safe Ministry Check.
This includes teachers from other churches/denominations. If they are teaching under the authority of your Senior Minister, they need to complete an SMC for your church.

Legal advice is that churches should store completed SMC forms and any references connected to those forms indefinitely.

For this reason we strongly recommend storing them electronically.
This can be as scanned copies of the paper forms in PDF format, or as full-electronic versions of the form and referee forms.

However the forms are stored, security and confidentiality should be the highest priorities.
See this paper for details and suggested strategies for long term storage of Safe Ministry records.
If you have any questions about this, please contact the Safe Ministry Team Parish Consultant

The Ordinance currently does not state how often an SMC has to be completed, but this is likely to change at some point. Standing Committee will review this in the future and will determine how frequently a volunteer must complete the SMC.

Until Standing Committee makes a decision about this, all clearances issued will remain opened-ended.

On page 4 of the Safe Ministry to Children Ordinance 2020, Part 4 (11) (2) we read:

“The Standing Committee has prescribed the following circumstances in which a safe ministry assessment is not required for a person to undertake voluntary ministry to children in the Diocese:

(i) the church worker is below 13 years of age,

(ii) the church worker is undertaking ministry to pre-school aged children (or younger) on not more than 10 occasions in a calendar year in the context of activities in which the church worker’s own child usually participates,

(iii) the church worker is undertaking ministry at or in connection with a university or other tertiary institution, or

(iv) the church worker undertakes ministry to children on not more than a total of 5 occasions in a calendar year, if the ministry involves minimal direct contact with children or is supervised when children are present.”

For assistance interpreting those exemptions, please contact the Safe Ministry Team Parish Consultant

If you think of the whole Safe Ministry Check as first and foremost a pastoral process rather than administrative, the following makes more sense:

The responsibility for processing the Safe Ministry Check forms for volunteers and clearing (or not) those volunteers to work with children sits with the Senior Minister of each parish. However:

  • In many cases it is not practical for the Senior Minister to undertake that role personally. In which case he may appoint an Authorised Delegate to manage that process on his behalf. This is entirely an internal parish appointment.
  • There can be more than one person appointed to process the forms if your parish has a very large number of SMC forms to process in the initial period when all current volunteer church workers are required to complete the process, but there can only be one Authorised Delegate to oversee that.
  • Any Authorised Delegate should be a person who is a member of the pastoral staff team and who has considerable pastoral experience. This is in order to be able to assess and process the sensitive information in the ‘Safe Ministry Questionnaire’ section of the form. There is a pastoral guide to conducting any follow up interview with a volunteer which may be helpful.

Visiting leaders from other Sydney Anglican churches.
Your church will need to obtain a verified ‘clearance to work with children’ from the Senior Minister of the visiting leaders’ home church.
Your church can use this template form for this purpose.
NOTE: ‘visiting leaders’ also includes SRE teachers working under your ministers authority. The same template form above can be used for them.

Visiting leaders from other churches/denominations.
They will need to complete an SMC citing your church as their church before working with children at your church. Note that they will almost certainly require a character reference to complete the SMC – we recommend they use the online adult volunteer form as this streamlines the process.

Our churches do not have a straightforward and secure way to share sensitive data between churches. 
So if a person joins your church from another Sydney Anglican church where they have a Safe Ministry Check clearance our recommendation is thus:
if they seek to be involved in children’s ministry at your church, they should complete another SMC which will then be stored in your Safe Ministry Records. This will ensure that the record of the clearance is retained at the location of the ministry being exercised. This is important if a complaint or allegation is made at some point in the future.

No. The online form for adult volunteers is a standard web form that only requires a modern web browser to complete.
We do not recommend any version of Internet Explorer.
Recommended browsers include current versions of:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Edge
  • Opera
  • Brave

A change was made to this requirement in November 2020. For ID documents submitted as part of the online form or with the pdf version, it is sufficient for the church Authorised Delegate to sight the ID and confirm the details match the applicant. 
The ID documents do not need to be stored and should be securely destroyed after confirmation of their details. 

The Safe Ministry Blueprint documents were written in 2015 and so parts of them are now out of date – especially with the passing of the Safe Ministry to Children Ordinance 2020.
Where the Blueprint documents differ from the new Ordinance, the Ordinance always wins out.

Applicants from you church use your unique SMC Church ID number to gain access to the form.
When they complete the form, they get a copy, and their Senior Minister or his authorised delegate gets a copy.
If the form determines that the applicant requires a character reference, that is handled by email to the referee and a short online form they complete. When that is submitted, it goes directly to your Senior Minister/authorised delegate.

No. The Safe Ministry Check process clears an individual to work with children in their parish – regardless of the position held.

Just email the new details to:  with your SMC Church ID, the previous details and the new details to be used.

We take great care to protect the privacy of the data collected in the online SMC form.

  • Secure network connection between your browser and our servers (SSL / HTTPS)
  • Hardware firewall protecting our servers from the internet at large
  • Our servers are not shared with any other users or other software
  • Encrypted offsite backups and rolling query logs
  • 24/7 server monitoring
  • Regular server maintenance by specialist technicians
  • As soon as the form is submitted, the personal details of the applicant and their answers to the Safe Ministry Questions are encrypted and stored on our server. 
  • The ID document uploaded as part of the form is stored in a cloud storage platform, but it is encrypted before leaving our server and is stored in that encrypted state. 
    The link to the ID docs in the pdf sent to the church Authorised Delegate is password protected.

While no storage system is perfect (electronic or paper), we believe that the above measures ensure the integrity and security of the data submitted via our online SMC form.

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