Safe Ministry Reps

Who can be a Safe Ministry Rep?

A Safe Ministry Representative must:

  • be 21 years or older;
  • have completed Safe Ministry training within the last 3 years or within 3 months after their appointment (and every 3 years after that);
  • hold a Working With Children Check clearance which has been verified with the Office of the Children’s Guardian;
  • have an email account (for administrative purposes);
  • have good administrative skills; and
  • be capable of maintaining a computer spreadsheet.
  • he or she must not be bankrupt or mentally ill, or otherwise incapable of acting in the capacity of Safe Ministry Representative.

It is recommended that the SMR is not a member of the parish staff or related to a member of the parish staff. Otherwise, a parishioner might feel uncomfortable speaking to the Safe Ministry Representative about concerns regarding a staff member. 

Appointment of an SMR

The Safe Ministry Rep is appointed by the Senior Minister of a parish, with the agreement of the Parish Council. The Registry and PSU need to be notified of any change of SMR by using this form:
Safe Ministry Rep Appointment Form

Where can SMR's find support?

The PSU has a part time staff member who is the first place for SMR’s to ask all sorts of questions about their role, responsibilities and implementing Safe Ministry policy in parishes – The Safe Ministry Parish Consultant.
Currently that is Rev Neil Atwood who can be contacted via the Contact page.

What is an SMR responsible for?

A good part of the role Safe Ministry Rep is administrative, but there is quite a bit more to the role than just that.

According to the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, the four main responsbilities of an SMR are:

  • to ensure compliance by the minister or the minister’s
    delegate with the Child Protection (Prohibited
    Employment) Act 1998 by persons appointed to a
    children’s ministry position within the parish, and
  • to maintain records of the date and place of safe
    ministry training satisfactorily completed by persons
    appointed to a children’s ministry position within the
    parish, and
  • to provide a report, at least annually to the parish
    council, that includes current policies and practices, and
    any suggested changes, to ensure the safety of children
    involved in the activities of the parish and such other
    matters as may be prescribed by the Safe Ministry
    Board, and
  • to report to the Director of Professional Standards, and
    in the case of a parish office holder, to the minister and
    any applicable delegate of the minister, knowledge or
    reasonable suspicion that a child who attends or has
    attended any activity of the parish has suffered child
    abuse or is at the risk of harm of child abuse from a
    parish office holder.

Those elements of the role are expanded on and explained in the Safe Ministry Blueprint for Safe Ministry Reps. 
You can download a copy here:
Blueprint for Safe Ministry Reps.

Resource Documents And Forms For Safe Ministry Reps

Reporting - abuse, incidents and parish council

Abuse Reporting Guide

For church workers (paid and voluntary) to use
Abuse Report Guide

 

Abuse Reporting Form

Use this form to record indicators or disclosures of abuse and refer to it when making a report to Family and Community Services (FaCS). This form must be dated and signed and kept in a secure location.
Risk of Harm Report

 

Incident Report

A form to be used when an incident involving injury to one or more people happens.
Incident Report Form
Incident Report (fillable Word doc) (docx)

 

Mandatory Reporters Guide

This is an online, interactive guide aimed a mandatory reporters (but usable by anyone) hosted by the NSW government ‘Keep Them Safe’ website. It is designed to help assess whether a case meets the new risk of significant harm threshold for reporting children and young people at risk in NSW.
Mandatory Reporters Guide

Parish Council Report

This form should be used when an SMR reports to Parish Council – which should happen as least once a year.
Parish Council Report (Word doc)
Parish Council Report (pdf)

Good Leadership - documents and forms

Faithfulness In Service – 2017

Faithfulness in Service is the national code for personal behaviour and the practice of pastoral ministry by clergy and church workers. It is intended to identify the personal behaviour and practices of pastoral ministry that will enable clergy and church workers to serve faithfully those among whom they minister.
Faithfulness In Service 2017

 

Safe Ministry Pledge

A resource that is now part of the online and face to face versions of Safe Ministry Refresher, Essentials.
Safe Ministry Pledge

 

Application forms for volunteer leaders

This form is recommended to be used as part of a screening process for volunteers:
It includes the Safe Ministry Pledge – a concise form of code of conduct now part of online Safe Ministry Training.
Safe Ministry Volunteer Application Form

 

Every worker in a church should have a job description. This document is a sample of a simple job description for a volunteer worker.
 Sample Job Description

 

This is the recommended Screening Policy that should be adopted by every church as part of it’s local Safe Ministry policies:
Screening Policy

 

Discipling tool for volunteer children’s/youth leaders

Above Reproach – Application form/discipling tool for leaders (Word doc)
NOTE: This version of Above Reproach supersedes all previous versions.
This document is useful as part of discipling program – especially with youth leaders. Recommended.

 

Permission Forms

Permission forms are used extensively in children’s and youth ministries. The first of the following forms is a generic form designed to be used as a ‘one off’ form for a number of children’s or youth activities.
The second form is known as an ‘enduring’ permission form which may be completed (for example) at the start of a year, and is designed to cover all normal activities of a given group or ministry for the rest of that year. It is in the form of a template which may easily be merged into your church’s own stationary. It requires editing for dates and the church name before using.
Generic ministry permission form (pdf)
Enduring permission form (.docx)

 

Activity Approval Form

This form is important for all youth and children’s activities that take place off site (ie: away from the churches property).
Activity Approval Form (pdf)
Activity Approval form (fillable) (docx)

 

Safe Ministry Representative – Parish Council Report Template.

The Safe Ministry Ordinance requires Safe Ministry Reps to formally report to their Parish Council at least once a year. This template should make it easier to be consistent and cover all the bases in your reporting.
SMR Parish Council Report v2
SMR Parish Council Report v2

Incident Report

A form to be used when an incident involving injury to one or more people happens.
Incident Report Form
Incident Report Form (.docx)

 

Under 18 Year Declaration Form

This form should be completed by all childrens/youth leaders/helpers under 18 years old, and countersigned by their parent(s)/guardian. These should then be kept with the parish Safe Ministry records.
Safe Ministry – Under 18yrs Declaration (pdf)

Safe Practices - guides

Social Contact Policy

A significant challenge in our culture is contact with people in a ministry context. This document outlines recommended practices and policies for different age groups. It will be updated as the social media landscape changes.
Social Contact Policy v3.1

 

Transport Policy

Guideline for managing the transport of children and youth to be adopted by churches.
Safe Ministry Transport Policy

 

Signs of elder abuse

Older Australians are a growing group of vulnerable people in our community and churches. This guide (from a Government website) is useful in identifying elder abuse.
Elder Abuse types

 

Overseas Student Workers – Guide

Is your church/ministry considering using student workers from overseas?
If they will work with children or youth, this guide will take you through the process of preparing for them to take up a role in your church/ministry.
See also details of how overseas workers can obtain a NSW Working With Children Check in this PDF from the Office of the Children’s Guardian.
Overseas Student Workers – a guide

Safe Environments - forms and registers

Risk Identification Register

This guide can be used to create a realistic risk identification/assessment register for any ministry event. Duplicate as necessary.
Risk Identification Register

 

Incident Report

A form to be used when an incident involving injury to one or more people happens.
Incident Report Form
Incident Report Form (.docx)

 

Emergency Evacuation Procedure

Sample wording that you can use in your own church publications, and when conducting practice evacuations.
Safe Ministry – Emergency Evacuation Procedure

Other useful information and documents for Safe Ministry Reps

Safe Ministry Records - a guide

Safe Ministry Records – A guide

February 2019

Introduction
The recent Royal Commission into institutional response to child sexual abuse has made it clear how important accurate, detailed records of the people who work with children in our churches – whether paid or volunteer.

For this reason, it is very important to ensure that proper record systems are in place in our parishes for the accurate and consistent recording of safe ministry information in a way that is up-to-date, comprehensive, accessible, sustainable, long lasting and secure.

This document seeks to set out the basic requirements for proper record systems and the options available to parishes in this area from a ‘best practice’ perspective.

Implications for parishes

  1. Security/Privacy
  2. Bare minimum v best practice.
  3. Choosing your record keeping method 

Accuracy

The highest priority is to make sure that you are keeping (or start to keep!) the highest quality records that you can, using whatever system you are currently using, or upgrading to a better system (see later).
A common situation in churches is that the actual data entry is often delegated to an admin person in the church office. This is perfectly acceptable, but it is still the responsibility of the Safe Ministry Rep to make sure the data is accurate and up to date.

Here are some tips:

  • Plan to regularly check the actual records yourself
  • Design a simple process/procedure to ensure accurate and consistent data entry.
    EG: All WWCC and Safe Ministry Training information for the records must come through you first, then go to data entry (if that is handled by a different person), then is checked by you, say once a month, or a couple of times a term.
  • When checking the records, if it is a standalone file (ie: a spreadsheet or similar) take the opportunity to back it up. Create an organised approach to backups, making sure at least one back up is kept in a location other than the church or your computer.

Security/Privacy

With the presence of sensitive personal information (D.O.B. and other contact information), we need to be confident in the level of security around these records.
So, for all electronic records, password protecting access to the Safe Ministry record file/system is essential.
Any paper records should be stored in securely locked cabinets – preferably fire resistant.

Access to the Safe Ministry records should be restricted to the Safe Ministry Representative, Rector and perhaps a Warden. The exception to this would be if Safe Ministry records are kept as part of a church management system that ministry staff all have access to.

What data

Post-Royal Commission we have a strong imperative to keep the best quality records possible. This is a description of exactly what data is required to be kept to satisfy both Diocesan and State Government requirements.

Name
Address
Phone
Email

WWCC Number
D.O.B
Expiry Date
Date Verified
Result
Who verified by (
Note: State legislation now requires us to keep records of ALL verifications. We cannot simply overwrite the last verification details with the new information.)

Date of last Safe Ministry Training
Type of training (Essentials or Refresher)
Name of Trainer (if f2f,  otherwise ‘onl;ine’)
Location of training (‘online’ for most now)
Expiry date of training
(Note: The Diocese now requires us to keep records of ALL Safe Ministry Training information. We cannot simply overwrite the last verification details with the new information.)
Ministry Position
Date commenced ministry
Interstate or overseas workers: – police check and references Information
Note field (for additional unstructured info)

Obviously, the more information that is added, the greater the complexity, and the more care needed to be taken in maintaining the records.

In addition to the above, you will almost certainly need an addition filing system – either electronic or a paper-based file for miscellaneous documents such as: Volunteer Application Forms, Safe Ministry training certificates, copies of police checks, references, etc.
Many if not all of these could be scanned and stored electronically.

Choosing your record keeping medium

This is a strategic, long term decision (unless you are a very small church), and so careful consideration should be given to the choice of recording method to avoid potential loss of data and time consuming re-entry of data.
Post The Royal Commission we now know that we need to keep such records indefinitely  – due largely to the very long time between an offence occurring in a church and the reporting of that offence (currently an average of 22-23 years). So HOW we record this information needs to take into account the ability to maintain the integrity of the data over a very long period of time.

Elvanto and Church Community Builder for mid-large sized churches.

Many middle-sized and larger churches are now using powerful cloud-based, Church Management Systems such as Elvanto or Church Community Builder.
These offer great flexibility and power in the way information can be stored and reports generated.
They offer flexible layout options, excellent access control, powerful reporting functions, and access from any internet-enabled device and provide backup redundancy, ensuring that the data is safely backed up.
You can even minimise the paper aspect of your Safe Ministry Records, because these tools allow you scan documents as pdf’s and upload them to form part of an individual’s records.

So if your church is using one of those CMS’s, you are probably in a good position in terms of using a system that can grow with you, is secure and safely backed up.

See the Appendix for sample screenshots as examples of how these systems can be used for recording a person’s safe ministry data.

Smaller churches

If your church is not large enough or chooses not to use systems like Elvanto, what are your options?

  • Spreadsheet
    This is the most common tool used by smaller churches. While it is perfectly acceptable in terms of having the capacity to store the required data, there are limitations to spreadsheets and the do require careful attention in order to make organised and consistent backups, securing the file(s) with strong passwords. Key limitations are: lack of ability to store electronic version of paper documents and no data checking on entry, no ability to set up automatic reminders.
    Auxiliary paper records.
    These are the copies of documents like: Safe Ministry Training certificates, volunteer application forms, references, police checks, WWCC clearance screen prints, etc. Even in fully electronic recording systems, it is hard to escape these, so provision needs to be made for them. Just keeping a manila folder in a filing cabinet is not really sufficient, they should be organised in a manner that makes documents easy to find, they need to be kept securely with access limited to the Senior Minister, the Safe Ministry Rep. and perhaps Wardens.
  • Google Docs. Some churches who use the free Google software internally for rosters and the like, have also adopted it for safe ministry records. However, this is strongly not recommended, as there are significant privacy issues related to the Terms and Conditions of Use that Google impose on users. This is also the case with most other companies that offer free cloud-based applications. Because Safe Ministry records include sensitive personal information, it is strongly recommended that an alternative system is adopted.
  • Other non-cloud software (eg: Pastoral Care, Access database, etc)
    This kind of software is less flexible and is unlikely to provide the kind of features needed to store Safe Ministry records.

The PSU offers a free, online Safe Ministry Record system for the use of any church in the diocese. It’s called SaMRO.  See the next tab for more information.

SaMRO - Safe Ministry Records Online

To help our churches maintain the high standard necessary, we now offer Safe Ministry Records Online (SaMRO). This is a database designed for any church to use as a safe, secure easy to use system for maintaining the electronic aspect of parish Safe ministry records. It is hosted, run and maintained by the Professional Standards Unit and is offered at no cost to any church in the Diocese of Sydney.

For more information, please see the SaMRO page

Articles of Interest for SMRs

Content to come…

F.A.Q.

How long does our church need to keep attendance records?

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.

Can we use electronic forms for Safe Ministry purposes?

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.
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
Scroll to Top