GCC General Church Council
PC Police Check
PS Professional Standards
PSD Professional Standards Department
PSO Professional Standards Officer
PSW Professional Standards Workshop/Webinar
PtP Permission to Proceed
SP3 Safe People, Safe Programs, Safe Places
RPL Recognised Prior Learning
SEB Standards of Ethical Behaviour
SMO Safety Management Online
SMS Safety Management System
WCY Working with Children and Youth
WHS Work Health and Safety
WWCC Working with Children (type) Check
Professional Standards FAQs
One can readily understand that the Lutheran Church is concerned for the spiritual health of its church and members. But equally so it is also deeply concerned for the physical safety and emotional well-being of all those who come under its banner.
In addition to providing for our spiritual needs through worship, pastoral care and other ministries, our church also has a legislative duty of care, to keep people safe, physically and emotionally.
Our Church has adopted the Standards of Ethical Behaviour (SEB) providing for its members a framework of the expected behaviours and attitudes of all who come under the banner of the Lutheran Church, in Australia and New Zealand. This document intentionally draws our attention to, that as Christians we are called to be witnesses of the Gospel. That we are moved by God’s immeasurable love to us, to reflect this love to others in our relationship with, and care of others. This is how we can bring God’s love to life.
The church has given the Professional Standards Department (PSD) the responsibility to develop and provide a Professional Standards training program by which those in leadership and decision-making positions within congregations and Lutheran bodies are informed around these expectations.
As a signatory to the Safe Church Training Agreement (SCTA) the Professional Standards Training program has been endorsed by the National Council of Churches Australia (NCCA). In October, 2017 under resolution 17/168 our GCC endorsed the direction and intent of the Professional Standards Training program to be consistently implemented across our church.
The purpose of the training is essentially awareness raising of the behavioural and attitudinal expectations that the LCA/NZ has of all those who come under its banner.
The training is focussed towards congregational leadership and decision-makers. Those in governance are in the best position to then take on board this training and work with their own members in their local context, building capacity within their own congregations to foster environments where respectful relationships are able to flourish, and safe communities for all can be maintained.
At the end of the day it is the responsibility of us all, that our church spaces are spiritually, physically and emotionally safe for everyone. Not just for children, but for all, especially for children and those in vulnerable circumstance.
A copy of the PS training model, and who needs to complete each level is provided on the LCA website, Professional Standards training page, www.lca.org.au/psd-training.
If you are simply a participant in a program or activity (that is, not the coordinator or leader or have a role that regularly requires you to work closely with children) your training can be as minimal as viewing/discussing, the SEB video. It is the responsibility of the leader of your group to ensure that this happens.
Those who are regularly helping in children’s ministry in the capacity of supervising or having close intentional interaction with the children are to engage in the relevant training and be screened.
Note, someone serving food over the counter, or cooking a BBQ which will be shared with the children, does not necessarily fit the description of having regular, close and intentional interaction with children. (Where there is opportunity to develop a relationship with a child, particular care needs to exercised.)
All other training is streamlined and relevant to Leadership/decision making roles as outlined in the training model. www.lca.org.au/psd-training
As long as the individual is a participant, and does not have a supervisory, leadership or decision-making role for this group.
All participants in this ministry should however, view and have opportunity to discuss, the Standards of Ethical Behaviour video (12 mins) in terms of their local context. This should be included as an induction into the church-wide expectations of the group.
As long as the individual is a participant, and does not have a leadership or supervisory role for this group.
As such, viewing and being provided with an opportunity to discuss the contents of the SEB video is an appropriate induction process to the expectations our church has.
GCC resolution 17/168 endorsed the Professional Standards Training program to be consistently implemented across our church.
Currently the training is delivered by Professional Standards Officers in each District who have had extensive and ongoing training in the program. As a group we meet regularly, providing support and updates as amendments to the program are implemented. This has the advantage that the training program can be monitored and managed to ensure its consistency church-wide.
The resourcing and administration of ‘trained personnel’ within each congregation, to ensure this same level of consistency of delivery, on a national basis, presents significant complexities. Addressing these may ultimately be at a much greater expense to our Church, with limited guarantee of maintaining consistency.
There is a strategy in place to increase the number of trainers to build capacity of the Church to meet increased demand for training, as well as working towards succession planning.
Speak with your PSO.
The intent of the Professional Standards Training Program is to build capacity within congregations and to empower leadership and decision-makers to embrace and apply the Standards of Ethical Behaviour within their local context. It is also about the systematic implementation of the SP3 Safety Management System across all the congregation’s safety planning of programs and events which are conducted under the auspices of their congregation.
Short term: In the case of the Standards of Ethical Behaviour workshop, it would seem likely that there will be more than one person attending the training who would be able to support and mentor the individual who has missed the training. If there was only one person requiring training it would suggest that others have already engaged. In keeping with the above intent, as the pool of those who have undertaken training increases, then as intended, other leaders and decision-makers within the congregation can provide some introductory direction and ongoing mentoring support to newly elected ‘leaders’ until such time that a workshop or webinar becomes available. The SEB Video, SEB Brochure and other workshop resources such as the SP3 Guides will become especially helpful in these situations. Remember, it is a team effort.
This is, however, not intended to replace attendance at the next available workshop.
When it comes to webinars, in addition to these being regularly scheduled, it is possible to negotiate dates and times that will better suit a group of individuals. Speak to your PSO.
- Congregations are encouraged to plan, and have trained those who potentially may take on roles in the next year or so.
- Coordinate with the District PSO for a zone and/or neighbouring congregations to host workshops in different years to provide a radius of access for surrounding congregations.
Each aspect of the PS training program is intended to build on the knowledge of the previous level of training. This is particularly so within the SP3 Safety Management System. Indeed it is one of the strengths of the system. It is however, recognised that there can be situations where one aspect of the training is needed to be completed prior to another. When the range of training can occur in a relatively short time frame (which is the case with Webinars) flexibility within reason can, and has been, provided to support these situations. Please speak with your PSO.
One of the challenges of providing multi-modal delivery is that not all have access to technology, whether that be the equipment or the expertise. We also know that there are many parts of Australia and New Zealand where reliable connectivity to the internet is not yet available. We have already managed a number of solutions to these issues. Should this be a concern for you, please speak with your PSO.
Recognition of Prior Learning currently exists in the following areas:
Pre-2017 Professional Standards training:
During the transition period from the pre-2017 PS training into the new format there has, and continues to be, recognition of currency of the former 6 hour, or 4 hour refresher format being applied. This former training remains current for 3 years from the date of the former training. Those for example, who completed their training back in 2014 were due to have commenced the new training in 2017. Those who undertook their last lot of training in 2015 should now be looking to access the relevant new format of training in 2018.
Safeguarding Children Child Protection:
RPL is also available for those who have currency in an accredited Child Protection unit of training – this may be known by different titles in different parts of the country. Eg Reporting Abuse and Neglect, Child Safe Environments.
Most states and territories have mandated training in this area for those who work with children as part of their paid or volunteer roles in the community, eg Teachers, Child care workers, Medical staff, Emergency Services providers.
We do however, need to be transparent in the RPL process. Direct evidence of the currency of the ‘Child Protection‘ accreditation is required. This could be the provision of a copy of the actual certificate, or perhaps a statement from your employer. If you think you might be in a position to provide this it is important to check with your PSO.
SMO training modules:
RPL is also available for SMO modules which may have been completed as part of volunteer work with different organisations. Recognition can be applied where currency exists in the SMO validation tasks. Evidence (eg a screen shot from their record held in the other organisation) is required for the RPL to be applied against the validation tasks only. The respective workshop or webinar still needs to be completed.
It is recognised that there are many excellent ‘professional standards’ type programs that currently exist. Each is conducted within the unique context of the professional organisation running the program. Recognition of previous learning under these circumstances brings with it a number of complexities.
The PSD is currently taking advice on this and until it has fully considered all the implications, the position has been taken that the congregational setting is likewise a unique environment. Our PS training is intentionally undertaken in a face to face context so that through the sharing of this ‘expertise’ in the team environment, value can be added to the PS congregational training for a richer experience. Individuals are encouraged to view such prior experiences as an opportunity to share with others the gifts, learnings and understanding with which they have been blessed.
The PS Training is about respectful relationships and safe environments for all, not just for children. Congregations, unlike educational institutions, are not regulated environments, and do not have the same strong support systems intrinsically embedded into their operational structure.
The PSD, is currently engaged in conversation with Lutheran Education Australia, to consider the aspects of the training for which mutual recognition might be afforded.
The Professional Standards Training beyond the core level (SEB) introduces participants to the SP3 Safety Management System. This is not a safety management system normally implemented aross regulated educational institutions.
The Church, by its very nature, is relational.
The workshops particularly set the framework for providing an awareness, and the opportunity for building/affirming a common and shared understanding of the five standards (Ethical Behaviour).
The face-to-face workshops are intentionally designed as a forum for leaders from congregations to come together to discuss, to challenge their thinking, and to work through these standards to arrive at that common and shared understanding to be applied to their local context.
This intentional relational interactive environment is difficult to effectively achieve online.
It is recognised that we have a number of communities within our Lutheran Church for whom some adjustments will be needed to facilitate a more relevant and meaningful delivery.
- For those who come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background
- Those with special focussed ministry including camping and youth ministries
- The Lutheran Deaf community
- Indigenous communities.
Progressively through a consultative process training will be amended to reflect a more meaningful and culturally sensitive delivery. In the meantime, we will rely on those within leadership in such environments to work with their communities to assist them in their understanding as they would for any delivery of information that occurs, eg the Sunday worship service.
SP3 Safety Management System & Safety Management Online (SMO)
In 2007 our church, under resolution (07/25) adopted the ChildSafe Safety Management System, for congegations to plan and run safe programs and events. We now know this system as the SP3 Safety Management System - Safe People, Safe Program, Safe Places. This system can be implemented both electronically and in paper format.
Safety Management Online (SMO) is a web-based tool by which the SP3 system can be electronically applied. To support the ease of implementation of the SP3 SMS, our church has invested in the SMO web-based tool for congregations to use at no cost. The SMO also provides templates and resources for the implementation of a paper-based format of the SP3 SMS.
Yes, this is a regular responsibility of the Coordinator who needs to always review the information provided by Team Leaders. This process is necessary in order to approve programs and activities. This is what strengthens the system … more than one person (other than the organisers) considering the safety plan of the program.
The SP3 system includes the Safety Planning and Permission to Proceed (PtP) process. When followed appropriately, this process includes carefully checking the safety planning for the program and all its activities, by the Coordinator. If this process is followed properly and something does go wrong, the probability of a future insurance claim covering the incident is significantly increased.
Our moral duty of care should motivate us to apply the SP3 system as intended. Doing this will also meet our WHS duty of care.
Our church has adopted the SP3 Safety Management System for congegations to use to plan and run safe programs and events. This system can be implemented both electronically and in paper format. The SMO is a web-based tool by which the SP3 system can be electronically implemented.
There is no requirement to use the safety planning features provided in SMO. There are however distinct advantages for you in using SMO. These include:
- quick and easy communication with your teams
- the ability to upload and securely store hardcopy documentation
- easy, but secure access to your Program and Activity safety plans, even on mobile devices
- easy to review and duplicate regular and repeated programs
- greater accountability and transparency for you and your teams
- allows you to more easily support your teams, and allows the PSD to provide better support for you
- long term storage, regularly backed up, in the one space, easy handover to successive leadership.
As of 2018, SMO has been updated to better support our PS training program. It now has the capability of recording all levels of PS training and properly recording Working With Children (type) Checks. There is a much reduced need for Coordinators to use other external databases and spreadsheets.
No, unless that lifeguard is one of your SP3 trained and screened Team Leaders or Team Members.
If your activity requires the assistance of an external rescuer, such as a lifeguard, you must still have the correct supervision ratio. For water activities this is defined as at least one SP3 Team Member for every six participants.
You have some options:
- Call parents of the participants and seek their presence – this is about keeping their children
- Call some of your other Team Members/Team Leaders and seek their presence. You may also consider helping out – you are appropriately trained and screened.
- Consider if the event should be cancelled (note that this means ensuring all participants can be picked-up and or safely transported home).
All of the above should be done in a supportive manner, not in a way that attributes blame. Work together with your Team Leader both immediately, and as you review how you might collectively avoid the same situation occurring again.
This highlights the need for careful planning – working with your Team Leader to plan for situations such as this. If you have planned, it will be more likely that you will be able to swing your emergnacy plan into place quickly with relatively little stress to all. Developing good relationships with your Team Leaders and having timely submission of Permission to Proceed all help to have this situation covered, should it arise.
In 2007 your GCC adopted by resolution the then, ChildSafe Safety Management System (SMS)to be implemented Church-wide.
The church also invested in the web application, Safety Management Online (SMO) by which this safety management system is able to be effectively and efficiently administered and managed online. We now know the former ChildSafe SMS as the SP3 Safety Management System.
By virtue of members engaging with the Professional Standards Training program, all congegations and organisations under the Lutheran banner have access to SMO,
As churches move to digital administration/management of their activities there is an ever increasing uptake of SMO, for administering the SP3 SMS across the church.
There remains, however, a significant number of congregations who have limited access to technology, equipment and/or expertise, as well as reliable access to the internet. Both are required for the implementation of SMO.
There are a number of Policy templates, already stored, including;
- CSE3-PP Policy & Procedure Guide
- CSE3-POL1 ChildSafe Policy 2016
The Policies of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand can be readily accessed from, the LCA website: http://www.lca.org.au/services-resources-training/policies/.
It is important that individuals are directed to the primary source for such documents as the latest updates and changes will be reflected in documents held at this source.
The pastor of a congregation is in the best position to know his general work-plan for the year. He will know and understand the reasonable and foreseeable risks associated for the range of his ususal activities, events and programs he is running. Best practice demands that these will be documented and shared with his Church Council and governance body. These should be uploaded into the SP3 Safety Management System, including the safety plan with the usual Permission to Proceed process being modelled. This could be done at the commencement of the yearly period. These can readily be copied and amended as appropriate if similar programs or activities are held the next year.
Where a special event or activity occurs during the year, that is not covered by the initial plan, this can then be added as appropriate.
Where a pastor as the leader in the congregation models this, there is encouragement for the congregation to do likewise.
In the past, when we only trained those who were directly involved in children’s ministry, and when we referred to the safety system as ChildSafe, it made sense to only use SMO for children’s programs. However, one of the strengths of the SP3 system is that its planning and safety principles are applicable to all congregational and camping ministry progams/events. You are both welcome and encouraged to use SMO for all congregational program and activities as well as children’s programs.
Safe planning of all events makes sense. Intentional safe planning is good practice, demonstrating genuine care for the safety and well-being of others. Safety planning as promoted by the SP3 SMS, including the persmission to proceed process, provides clear evidence of the congregation exercising their duty of care.
Most congregations will have performed basic safety planning of regular events in other ways. There is often also room for improvement particularly in the area of documenting what has been considered and put in place.
If the safety planning is not already being documented, why not apply the SP3 principles and also use SMO? That would make it easy to review and duplicate regular and repeated programs. It makes it easy to communicate what you have planned to key people. All of this means that it is likely to ensure a higher level of safety for all.
Yes, where the luncheon/meeting is a program/activity of the congregation. It is not the location that determines whether an activity is a program of the church.
All locations have risks; all events have risks. The key question is not whether risks exist, rather, the key question is whether the risks are being appropriately identified and managed. Best practice would suggest that reasonable and foreseeable risks of a location for the intended participants should be considered and be part of safety planning.
This is an area that needs to be addressed. PSD is in conversation with the organisation that produces training materials.
It is preferable that those anticipating being appointed as Team Leaders, complete the SP3 Team Leader webinar and validation tasks prior to appointment. However, where there is commitment to the training as soon as it becomes available, it is possible, with the support of other trained members, that this appointment and commencement in the role can occur prior to training. Please speak with your PSO.
All functions of the Team Leader within ther SP3 SMS can be actioned via a paper-based process, including the submission of the Permission to Proceed. The web-based application of SMO provides an electronic option of the same functions. SMO provides templates for paper-based versions of these resources.
In the meantime the Coordinator or perhaps another trained and appointed Team Leader would be able to provide mentoring support in the practical applications of the SP3 SMS, including the permission to proceed function.
SP3 Team Member:
Viewing: Home | People | Training | Resources Tabs
Editing: People: Personal Details | Training: M1 ‘Keeping People Safe’, M2 ‘Child Protection’
SP3 Team Leader (Appointed)
Only Team Information to which an individual is Appointed as Team Leader by Coordinator
Viewing: Home | People (Personal information, Appointment Status, Training Status, Organisation Information)| Program | Training | Incident | Resources Tabs
Editing: People: Team Members, Personal Information | Training: L1 ‘The SP3 Team Leader’, L2 ‘Safety Management and Permission to Proceed’
SP3 Coordinator (Appointed)
Only Information of the Group (congregation) to which individual is Appointed as Coordinator
Viewing: Home | People (Personal information, Appointment Status, Training Status, Organisation Information)| Program | Training | Incident | Resources Tabs
Editing: People: All Group Members, Personal Information | Appointment Status | Organisation Information, Status (active/archived) | Training: C1 ‘The SP3 Coordinator’, | Programs: Appointing Team Leader, Viewing Safety Plans, Risk Management, Approval of Permission to Proceed | Incidents: Reviewing and monitoring details of all incidents within their group | Programs: Appointing Team Members, Safety Plans, Risk Management, Submission of Permission to Proceed
Incidents: Reporting and uploading details of Incidents that have occurred as part of their team
Initial SMO records are created for each individual who registers and participates in a unit of training outlined in the Professional Standards training program.
Working from a 'signed' attendance register, PSD administration either creates an online SMO record for the individual or updates their current training record. Where an online SMO record is created for the first time, the individual is advised by email of how to access their SMO record including their username and a temporary password. Individuals are able to change their own password once they have gained access to their record, but are advised to store it securely.
Individuals are strongly encouraged to complete their details and to update the Personal information section as details change, including addresses, email and phone contacts. This becomes particularly helpful where there are more than one individual with the same or similar names.
Yes. The same email address can be used by more than one person to access their SMO record. However, each record holder MUST, have a unique password to their access their own record. Unique passwords are provided when SMO records are created. Should you choose to change them, please ensure it is not the same as others who are using the same email address (username) to access their record.
Contact your PSO and they will be able to reset your password. Once reset, you will receive an automated email from NoReply@smo advising you of a new temporary password that has been set for your SMO account. This may take several minutes or hours, depending on the strength of your internet connectivity.
Should it not arrive, check your spam, trash or similar folders as settings on your computer might have been set to sending 'no-reply' emails into those spaces.
If you cannot locate this email, re-contact your PSO to check that passwords are being sent to current email addresses.
As an alternative, should your PSO not be available, contact Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 8267 5211 (SA office hours) for support.
Working With Children (type) Checks
It depends on the role of the adults.
There are a number of responses to this situation
- Where children are attending worship or ministry activities under the supervision of their parents or caregivers, eg Worship service, pre-and post worship (fellowship cuppa) there is no requirement that others participating in that program or activity require WWCC/PC, or that they have undertaken PS training.
- Where there are a mix of children and adults participating in ministry activities (eg Band, Youth, Young Adults groups, even Worship), without parental supervision, there is no requirement for adult participants to hold a WWCC/PC. However, there is a responsibility for Team Members, Team Leaders for these specific progams, to hold a WWCC/PC in these situations. They are also required to engage in the relevant PS training as they are responsible for the safety planning of that event. As part of safety planning, this should include and address as relevant, the risk of the age mix in the context of their program.
In an activity such as Sunday worship, the fact that WWCC/PC, and PS training are required of Pastors, Council/Governance members and other leadership positions, creates a pool of people available that will have considered the reasonably foreseeable risks related to unsupervised children. Church councils are in the best position to consider how this would be managed.
Parent/caregivers are not required to hold a WWCC or have attended PS training to simply attend ministry activities with their children. We encourage them to attend.
However, they should only working with their own children and should not be supervising other children.
We also, recognise that many families will closely interact with each other outside of church activities. This is good and it will have flow on effects into our ministries. In this situation it is important for trained and screened Team Leaders and Team Members to ensure the interaction of those parents with other children in the group is appropriate.
Informal arrangements by parents, who are not present, for other parents to take care of their children as well as their own should be conveyed in writing (email/text/note) of this arrangement to the Team Leader. Similarly if such an arrangement should change, it is appropriate that this also needs to be communicated.
The use of the term Background Check (as used in SMO) is a generic term which covers each of the different State, Territory or National leglisated requirements as it pertains to a mandated ‘checking’ of a person’s suitability to be ‘working with children’. Different jurisdictions use different databases against which the ‘checks’ are referenced. It varies in each jurisdiction whether the same working with children background check is used for both those in paid positions and those who are volunteers.
Different jurisdictions have different terms for their respective working with children background checks, including, Blue Card (Qld), Ochre Card (NT), DCSI (SA).
In some jurisdictions it is a national Police Check that is required as the background check for working with children.
It is appropriate that Pastors, Church Council/Governance, and all assisting in working with children within their ministry areas meet the legislated requirement for their jurisdiction with regard to holding a current ‘working with children type check’.
Working with Children type/ Police checks are mandated by legislation.
It is appropriate that all Pastors, all Church Council/Governance members, and all assisting in working with children (u/18) within their ministry areas meet the legislated requirement for their jurisdiction with regard to holding a current ‘working with children type check’.
Working with Children type checks are mandated by legislation.
The SP3 Coordinator has access to each individual's 'Appointment Status' section of the SMO record for everyone registered in their Group (Congregation). The responsibility of administratively managing this lies with the SP3 Coordinator.
It is the individual's responsibility to ensure that they personally manage their own 'Working with Children Type' check as required by the laws within their own jurisdictions. As managed and as required, individuals are asked to take the initiative to advising their SP3 Coordinators with regard to any change in the currency of their own 'Working with Children' type check
Different jurisdictions need to respond to their own legislative requirements and will require different checks respective to the areas of engagement, eg working with vulnerable people, working with the disabled and the like. Please refer to your PSO regarding those related to working with vulnerable people. Using the SP3 Safety Management System and SMO to record such details and background checks makes sense to keep all such records together.
A full copy of the Final Report can be accessed at:
The Preface and Executive Summary of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is possibly a good place to begin.
Recommendations 16.42 – 16.47 may be of interest; these relate to persons in, or candidates for, religious and pastoral ministry.