As a Diocese, we’re committed to doing everything we can to ensure that our churches are safe places for everyone who participates in church activities — including our visitors and volunteers. This means that, in adherence to state legislative and General Synod requirements, all ordained persons, and church workers if their role involves child-related activities must apply for clearance to function within their area of ministry.
All news and updates pertaining to Safe Ministry will be posted to this page, as improvements and changes are applied to processes and procedures.
Along with new State Government requirements, we’ve updated our own systems to create a simplified, 4 step Safe Ministry application process . In order to meet legal and General Synod requirements, all church workers and volunteers will be instructed to fill out a single online Diocesan Safe Ministry application form, and will be prompted to fill out any additional forms necessary to meet State Government legislative requirements.
Synod has been conducting safe ministry screening and training for clergy and volunteers since 2002. Changes to South Australian legislation together with the requirements of the Safe Ministry to Children Canon 2017 have prompted Synod to review our Safe Ministry policies, procedures and training.
One of the weaknesses in our current approach is that whilst we have rigorous screening process and record keeping at Synod Office level, we have no means of knowing whether everyone who should apply for a Working With Children Check does so. Nor do we currently know that everyone who works with children in a church holds the relevant approval, and importantly when a family arrives at your church, they may have no visible means of knowing whether the people working with their children are appropriately screened, trained and approved.
Diocesan Council has approved a series of reforms to our Safe Ministry system:
- We have adopted a Safe Ministry Policy setting out our vision, our commitments and the responsibilities for each stakeholder. The Safe Ministry Policy for the Diocese is attached;
- Diocesan Council has accredited Safe Ministry Check as our Safe Ministry trainer. Safe Ministry Check is an online platform and suite of training courses developed in partnership with Ansvar Risk. What this means is that all training for Safe Ministry will now be offered online, thereby saving time for volunteers and engaging them in a more convenient way while still maintaining our high standards of training; and
- A new position at the parish level is to be created to ensure that each church worker ministering to children holds the appropriate approvals and that information is visibly available to those attending the parish. This role will be known as the “Safe Ministry Coordinator”.
Who needs a Working With Children Check clearance?
To ensure compliance with both South Australian State legislation and the Safe Ministry to Children Canon 2017 the following list of roles must obtain a safe ministry clearance:
- All clergy and lay persons holding an authority from the Bishop;
- All candidates for Ordination;
- All lay church workers in paid employment involving work with children;
- All lay volunteers who work with children;
- All members of Diocesan Council; and
- Members of Parish Councils only where the Parish concerned has lay paid staff or volunteers who work with children.
Who Doesn’t need a Working With Children Check clearance?
Under current Diocesan safe ministry processes all volunteers in parishes are required to undergo a WWCC. The means that many volunteers in parishes who have only incidental contact with children are undergoing a WWCC even though they are not legally required to do so.
Diocesan Council has adopted legal advice that “a person will not be performing ‘child-related work’ if they are performing ‘any other service or activity’ in the course of which contact with children occurs incidentally or would not reasonably be expected to occur’.
A WWCC is not required in relation to a person who believes on reasonable grounds that they will not ‘work with children’ on more than seven days in a calendar year (unless that person does ‘work with children’ on more than seven days (i.e. once they have ‘worked with children’ on more than seven days, they will need to obtain a WWCC)
This means that if your church does not have a children’s program or youth group, the only persons required to hold a WWCC are the clergy.
To assist parishes, a table that sets out who ought to undergo the WWCC and Safe Ministry training is in the Safe Ministry resources page (https://diowillochra.org.au/safe-ministry-resources/). This should be read as a guide only. For further clarification parishes are encouraged to contact the Safe Ministry Unit.
With these reforms, many parishes should see a significant reduction in the number of people who have to undergo the WWCC and training.
The Safe Ministry Coordinator
Whilst the responsibility for Safe Ministry in any parish ministering to children or vulnerable people lies with the Parish Priest, Diocesan Council has endorsed the creation of a Safe Ministry Co-ordinator role in each parish. The Safe Ministry Coordinator role is designed to assist the Parish comply with their safe ministry responsibilities. Safe Ministry Co-ordinators will be appointed by the Parish Priest as an “other officer” under Section 52 of the Parochial Administration Ordinance
Parish Safe Ministry Co-ordinator role is to:
- assist parish volunteers in working out whether they are legally required to undergo a WWCC
- keep records of who is working with children in the church setting
- keep local records of who has WWCC (will be updated regularly by Synod Office)
- ensure no one works with children unless they have Synod approval
- forward regular (monthly) compliance reports to the safe ministry authority (Diocesan Council via the Secretary of Synod)
A Safe Ministry Coordinator should ideally:
- be 21 years or older;
- hold a Working With Children Check (WWCC) clearance;
- have an email account (for administrative purposes);
- have good administrative skills and be capable of maintaining a computer spreadsheet.
It would be desirable if the Safe Ministry Coordinator:
- has professional training or expertise in child protection issues (such as a teacher, children’s worker, youth worker or a person with behavioural or social sciences qualifications and experience); and
- is not a member of the parish staff or related to a member of the Parish staff. This is to avoid a scenario where a parishioner might feel uncomfortable speaking to the Safe Ministry Coordinator about concerns regarding a staff member.
Synod Office will co-ordinate the communication around the establishment of the Safe Ministry Co-ordinator roles, and will support them with training, resources and support in the conduct of their responsibilities.
We will be producing new safe ministry posters for display in each parish. Further we will provide a document which may be displayed setting out the name of the parish Safe Ministry Co-ordinator and the list of names of persons approved for safe ministry in the parish together with the expiry date. This will enable any family attending the parish to check that the persons who are ministering to children are appropriately approved for that ministry.
Safe Ministry Training
Safe Ministry Check is a platform and suite of training courses developed in partnership with Ansvar Risk. It will comfortably meet the needs of our Diocese. Ansvar (our insurance broker) strongly encourages its clients to utilise this training.
Safe Ministry Check consists of a series of short videos followed by several questions to reinforce the content and test understanding. The applicant cannot proceed or receive a certificate of completion without correctly answering the questions. Each video course takes between 20 minutes and 40 minutes to complete with a total investment of less than three hours. The system keeps track of when applicants have completed their courses and when they need to do a refresher. This will be integrated with our Salesforce database enabling us to capture the data required for a Safe Ministry clearance.
The training portal on the Safe Ministry Check website will be branded specifically for the Anglican Diocese of Willochra (safeministrycheck.com.au) with our Safe Ministry Policy, Faithfulness in Service and relevant contact details including reporting obligations built into the content.
This suite of courses will replace the current Safe Environments for children & young people “Through their Eyes” (SE) and Ensuring Safe Church communities (ESCC) courses.
Further, these Safe Ministry Check courses have been developed as suitable for viewing by 14-17
While it can feel like a big step, moving online means an ultimately less complicated clearance process.
Besides the convenience of being able to complete your Safe Ministry clearance applications and Safe Ministry training across a range of digital devices (laptop, smart phone, tablet), applying online is better for the environment and leads to a reduction in print and post costs at both ends of the process.
Applying online also allows for easier and more efficient handling of data, which should lead to faster turnaround times and fewer delays, meaning you can be cleared for ministry much sooner than experienced using the old processes.
Finally, lodging your application online means that you will receive confirmation that your application has been lodged. You will also receive email updates to help you track your application’s progress and be advised when you are cleared for online training. Reminders will be sent when your current Safe Ministry clearance is due for renewal.
If you or someone you know is not familiar with using the internet or uncomfortable with using it, your first action should be to seek support from your own parish.
Stronger, more effective and transparent screening laws for people working or volunteering with children have been introduced in South Australia.
These changes to the screening laws were recommended as part of South Australian & Federal Royal Commissions, to help keep children safe in our communities.
The new laws mean that everyone working or volunteering with children must have a valid child-related screening. From 1 July 2019, the State’s current system for child-related employment screening will be replaced with a Working with Children Check (WWCC).
If you have a current, valid DHS/DCSI child-related employment screening this will be recognised as a WWCC until it expires (normally three years from the date of issue). You will need to supply a copy of this separately via email when you submit your online Safe Ministry Application. These can be forwarded to email@example.com
For people who have a National Police Certificate assessed by their organisation and use it to volunteer with children, they will have until 1st July 2020 to get a WWCC unless its expiry is prior to this date.
Furthermore, a Working with Children Check is valid for five years and is portable across roles and organisations in South Australia.
It is important to realise that it is an offence to work or volunteer in a child related role without a valid clearance. The offence carries fines of up to $20,000 and/or a prison sentence.
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