When must someone working with children complete Safe Ministry Training?

In accordance with the Safe Ministry To Children Ordinance 2020,
…the training requirements for clergy and church workers with respect to safe ministry are satisfactory completion of accredited training… by clergy, and authorised, paid or voluntary, church workers, within three years prior to being ordained, licensed, or authorised, or appointed to undertake ministry to children…
Part 5, clause 14 (1)

This means a person cannot start working with children (anyone under 18yrs of age) until they have satisfactorily completed Safe Ministry Training.
This includes Junior Leaders aged 13-17 years.
See https://safeministry.training/training-information/ for more information

What happens when my Safe Ministry training expires?

Under the Safe Ministry to Children Ordinance 2020 clergy and church workers (paid or volunteer) are required to complete accredited safe ministry training no later than three years from the date of their previous training.

A record of each person’s previous safe ministry training date is always visible in their ‘Course Dashboard’ page of their safe ministry account.

When the safe ministry training expiry date approaches for an existing worker in your church, 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 after their certificate expiry date. Note: where training is completed online, all aspects of the course must be finalised and a certificate received prior to the 30 day grace period expiring.

If a Refresher course is not completed within 30 days after their certificate expiry date, 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 to keep track of their training dates.

What are the Safe Ministry Training requirements for clergy and lay ministers?

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 2014 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.

What is best practice with junior leaders (under 18 years old)?

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:

  • Safe Ministry Check – Under 18 year old’s must complete the Safe Ministry Check for 13-17 year old’s and this document must be counter signed by a parent.
    When they turn 18, the Safe Ministry Check for adults must then be completed.

    SPECIAL NOTE: Should any person completing this form disclose that they have been convicted of, charged with or accused of sexual abuse of a child or young person, the Senior Minister or their delegate must obtain advice from the Director of the OSM about disclosures of this type before any decision about appointing the person is made.
    This advice can be sought via the contact form (choose ‘OSM Director’ as the recipient) 

  • Screening – a WWCC is one aspect of the screening process but it cannot be obtained until a person turns 18 (an application may be lodged with the OCG a few months prior to this). Therefore, we need to be as vigilant with our screening of Junior Leaders as we are with adults (a significant percentage of sexual abuse of children is peer-to-peer abuse). Every church should use a comprehensive screening policy that includes a role application such as this document.

  • Safe Ministry Training – The Safe Ministry To Children Ordinance 2020 now mandates Safe Ministry Training for all volunteer church workers who work with children – including those we call junior leaders.
    The Junior Leaders Course is the mandated course of training, However, at the discretion of the rector or his delegate, a junior leader who is 16 or 17 years of age and who is regarded as sufficiently mature can complete the Essentials course rather than the Junior Leader course (this may be the preferred course to complete if the leader previously completed the Junior Leader course and it is about to expire). Any decision to do this should be made in consultation with the junior leaders’ parents.
    A junior leader must complete the Essentials course when they turn 18, to maintain their accreditation and remain in a leadership role.
    NOTE: it is not appropriate to count a junior leader as a leader for supervision purposes or take on full leadership responsibilities if they have completed the Essentials course at 16 or 17yrs.

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

Are school teachers exempt from doing Safe Ministry training?

The Safe Ministry to Children Ordinance 2020, requires all clergy and church workers working with children (under 18 year olds) to complete Safe Ministry Essentials or Safe Ministry Refresher training, or an equivalent course by another denomination under the Safe Church Training Agreement (SCTA).

Because courses related to other professions are all structured differently, and do not teach from a gospel perspective or cover the church environment, we cannot accept that training. However, with Safe Ministry Training being available online, people with such profession-based training will generally be able to progress quickly through sections of material where they have prior knowledge from other training (e.g. signs of abuse).

For more information on SCTA courses see this article.