Safe Ministry Training – June Update

Safe Ministry Training Update - June 2017

The Regional Meetings held in April and May were a great time to meet with Local Safe Ministry Trainers, Safe Ministry Reps and some Rectors.
We shared some of the thinking behind the move to online training, the strengths and advantages of going online, and some of the changes that will mean for our churches.
And the Q&A sessions were fantastic! It was so good to be able to talk through the issues that were of concern and interest.

But for the many people who could not get to one of the meetings, here is most of the material we covered – updated where appropriate.

Where we are at

We are in a time like never before

The Royal Commission has put churches in the spot light calling us to a greater standard. A number of the recommendations coming out of the Royal Commission pertain to the training we provide, the consistency of it and the records we keep both for clergy and volunteers.

Partly as a response to these recommendations, the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) has implemented significant changes to Safe Ministry Training.

The first of these changes took place on April 1 2017, with the PSU taking on the management of all Safe Ministry Training in the Sydney Diocese. This includes the Essentials, Refresher and Junior Leader Courses.

Here’s a summary of some of the factors that have influenced these changes:

  • Royal Commission recommendations include: increased need to provide consistent, standardised training that is track-able and reportable in real time.
  • Public perceptions – Churches have suffered negative attention from the media and the public. We have a duty of care to the ongoing improvement of our processes.
  • Legislative changes – volunteers and employees are viewed equally within Work, Health and Safety laws, meaning that we need to be as thorough in our training of volunteers as we are our paid pastoral workers.
  • We are part of the Safe Churches Training Agreement (SCTA), and their requirements have recently changed to include ‘demonstration’ of knowledge. We can do this in online training with quizzes and other exercises that individuals must complete.

Where we are going

In the near future, there will be three ways for church members to receive Safe Ministry Training.

  1. Online– In the comfort of a participants own environment e.g. home, workplace or even while commuting.
  2. Online assisted– A volunteer in local churches can assist people to get online and complete their training. (More on this  under ‘Impact on current system’)
  3. F2F training– Face to face (F2F) training will become regional, held 2 times per year. Once Essentials is offered online then face to face training will no longer be provided in local churches.

Strength of new system

Online and F2F training are very different approaches to seeking a similar goal. Here are some of the strengths of online training:

  • Retention rates – Retention rates are demonstrably higher than for F2F. At least one study reports that up to 60% of the material presented in online training is retained, compared to 10% for face to face training.

  • Reach – We will be able to reach many more people with online training: young, old, people from non English speaking background (Culturally And Linguistically Diverse) using full translations of courses, people with low levels of comprehension, as well as former or current victims of abuse. Online training allows for more questions which may not be asked in F2F training due to the anonymity of online training. A great range of media can also be employed to address different styles of learners.
  • Flexibility – shift workers, single parents, those who are time poor, night owls, morning people can learn at a time best suited to them. Breaks can be taken as needed. Courses can be taken on any internet-connected device.
  • Cost effective – Ongoing costs of running online training are much lower than the current F2F system. Participants will pay less to undertake online training.
  • Culture change – We have been on a journey of creating safe ministry culture for many years now. We can continue to impart this as leaders from the diocese can speak directly to the participants and impact them through the videos or written content. Different types of interactivity that can engage a wider range of people.
  • No limits – We will be able to provide additional, optional training such as warden training, Safe Ministry Representative training, protective boundaries training for parents, safe ministry training modules for clergy e.g. managing Safety Plans for POI. This is an area where we can really add value over time.
  • Reporting – At any point in time, a church can request a list of who has had training, when training is due etc. Safe Ministry Reps will receive regular reports showing who has completed training.
  • Reduction – Administration will be reduced for local churches, church members will not need to travel to training and the total number of trainers will be reduced.

What will it look like (modules and time-frames)

Example course structure.

An example of how the training might look:


Note: The time of 2.5 hours is flexible. How long participants may take depends on previous knowledge, computer literacy, desire to read links to web pages that may be relevant to their ministry or situation, etc. The only inflexible timing is webinar, all other timings are guidelines but will be up to the participant.

Time-frame for course releases.

Over the course of 2017 there will be a gradual transition phase:

  1. Refresher course: available online in October 2017.
  2. Essentials course: online in early 2018 (accredited Local Safe Ministry Trainers can continue to train leaders in their church until then).
  3. Junior course: still in discussion regarding implementation and timing of this course.

For 2017, June Safe Ministry Training events will still proceed. November training events will be amended as needed.

Version 3.1 of the Safe Ministry Training material will be the basis of the online courses.

Impact on the local church

Impact on current trainer system.

  • The local trainer system will conclude once Safe Ministry Training is online in 2018. Local Safe Ministry Trainers will have other opportunities to be involved with the Safe Ministry Team and training capacities.
  • F2F regional training will be available twice per year (as demand exists)
  • New roles are being created:
    • Webinar presenter: They will provide the online presentation via webinar format for those completing the Essentials and Refresher course.
    • Webinar producer: They will provide support for the webinar presentation for those completing the Essentials and Refresher course. This includes assisting people to connect to the webinar, and understand how they can participate in the webinar.
    • ‘Online assisted’: These will be volunteers in local churches who will assist people with no internet connection or low computer literacy to participate in online training. They will not conduct training themselves, they are simply assisting people to connect to the training and navigate through it, if required.

Impact on church system.

Some ways that online training will enhance Safe Ministry practices in our churches:

  • At some stage participants will be checked for being a Person Of Interest. If such a person undertakes the training, they will not receive certification.
  • The online training courses will have a new component: a ‘pledge’, which is a form of a code of conduct. This will be digitally signed as part of the training. This will include a declaration that they have read their Pathways document, and agree to a written code of conduct. This has proven to be an effective technique in managing boundary violations.
  • Administration will be enhanced
    • Once Safe Ministry Training online training is up and running, this should make the maintenance of Safe Ministry Records easier. Eventually, if your parish has your Safe Ministry Records with our online system (SaMRO), all online training information will be automatically updated for your church members in the system.
    • Individually numbered Training Certificates are automatically issued when someone completes the course successfully. This helps with accountability and screening of new volunteers.
    • SaMRO’s  auto reminder system (when Safe Ministry Training is due) will give a direct link to the online training site to encourage early completion of a Refresher course.
    • Safe Ministry Reps will be periodically informed with a list of people in their church who have successfully completed a course.
    • Centralised records of all training done online will be maintained as a backup to local Safe Ministry Records.